Every day, it seems, outside reality intrudes on what President Donald Trump has been telling the people.
Three fresh examples fit this trend in different ways.
For months, the real estate heir-turned-politician invested a lot of credibility in the record rise of the stock market by associating himself and his policies with the long-term rally.
Following up on continual tweets, Trump crowed last week in his State of the Union address to Congress: “The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion in value.”
Just look to your 401(k), his cheering squad kept saying.
Of course, a correction or downturn was due. The only questions were when and how much. Other presidents didn’t play the game for that reason. Suddenly on Monday, the Trump team saw the need for an adjustment.
“The President’s focus is on our long-term economic fundamentals, which remain exceptionally strong,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Perhaps the president’s “focus” was a tad different last August when he boasted on Twitter: “Stock Market at an all-time high. That doesn’t just happen!”
The political lesson is basic. Taking bows for the good and blaming others for the bad doesn’t build credibility to anyone but the most fervid fan.
Questions about the president’s credibility also take center stage this week in the Russia probe by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Despite his claiming in public he’s already been “vindicated,” Trump’s lawyers advised him against submitting to a wide-ranging interview with Mueller and his team, according to published reports.
That makes sense. Trump has proved to be an unreliable source in the past. He might risk serious trouble if his statements to investigators fit that mold.
Despite repeatedly claiming a “witch hunt,” Trump said he wishes to meet with Mueller. Then again, he also has said he wished to release his tax forms. He’s also vowed to sue people and never followed through, among other misleading statements. His believability has not been on the mend.
On Monday, the president also displayed his casual relationship with the Ninth Commandment (the one about bearing false witness) before an audience in Ohio.
For some time a president commonly gets applauded by his party and draws a frosty response from the opposition at the State of the Union. Naturally this can vary from one line to the next. Trump has now dressed this up as extraordinary, casually calling Democrats the worst thing a citizen can be.
“Even on positive news like that, really positive news like that, they were like death and un-American,” Trump lamented Monday during a speech on tax cuts.
“Somebody said ‘treasonous.’ I mean, yeah, I guess, why not? Shall we call that treason? Why not? I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”
As usual, it was just something he blurted. He didn’t elaborate in a way that would give the name-calling any credibility.
On Tuesday, former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci told CNN about Trump’s “treason” claim: “I clearly thought it was joking.”
Oh, right. Of course. That puckish Trump sense of humor again. What a card.
Maybe he was kidding about Mueller and the stock market, too.