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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Thankfully, Trump's signature and nice words buried his history of 9/11 lies

President Donald Trump shows off his signature on

President Donald Trump shows off his signature on the bill to permanently authorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund in the Rose Garden of the White House on Monday. Credit: Getty Images / Win McNamee

President Donald Trump recited good and appropriate words at the bill-signing ceremony to permanently fund compensation for 9/11 first responders.

"Today we come together as one nation to support our Sept. 11 heroes, to care for their families and to renew our eternal vow, never ever forget,” Trump said. 

He told first responders gathered there: "Over the last two decades, you have endured hardship with amazing grace and incredible grit."

"You lift up our communities and you remind us what it means to all stand united, one nation under God," Trump said. "Today we strive to fulfill our sacred duty to you."

And so the president poignantly signed a key measure long pushed by members of New York's congressional delegation.

Often he echoes and reads off the work of others with little or none of his own input. That may have been the case here, but it didn't matter in practical terms.

The job got done.

Everyone knows the bill had stalled for a long time. One last bump was provided by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), a golfing buddy of Trump's.

Paul, who expressed concern about the cost, made clear he wasn't blocking it, only asking to debate the mechanism for the funding. This legislation had had wide support for years. For example, members of the so-called lefty "squad" of freshman House Democrats supported it, including Trump-targeted Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). 

The Trump team's characteristic lack of political generosity also didn't matter. Apparently they didn't invite the bill's earliest champion, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan).

But Maloney got her say prominently after the final congressional vote last month: "The true Twin Towers of New York are the FDNY and the NYPD, and fully funding and permanently authorizing the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is the least we can do to honor their sacrifices."

Unfortunately, Trump on Monday did revert to form when he obliquely echoed the fake suggestion that he had been at Ground Zero.

"I was down there also, but I’m not considering myself a first responder. But I was down there. I spent a lot of time down there with you," he said.

Under the circumstances, however, this was one of his more harmless lies.

Or at least he was trying to identify with people braver than he, rather than sliming someone.

Many of his other past claims might have complicated the photo op, which luckily they did not.

Trump did not hint as he did before his election, for example, that Saudi Arabia was secretly responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Not that he was expected to do so: in office, Trump has become an ally of the kingdom so dependable that he downplays its assassinations.

Trump also didn't claim falsely, as he did for some reason after the jihadist attacks, that his building had thus become the tallest in Manhattan.

He also refrained from hallucinating about seeing Muslims celebrate — or that he had "witnessed" from Fifth Avenue the sight of people jumping from the Twin Towers. 

Thankfully, Trump didn't stray while on topic into other political messaging of the day as he often does. He refrained from repeating the morning's jumble of acid Twitter talk about the Rev. Al Sharpton, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Elijah Cummings, vermin in Baltimore, the Fed, and a book he had not read by ex-aide George Papadopoulos. 

For a few minutes, the president managed to do something easy and popular and obvious — without poisoning the political atmosphere. 

Overall he behaved himself. This is good.

Sometimes it seems as if a lack of embarrassment is no small thing for America to expect.

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