UNITED NATIONS Everyones got their own recurring nightmarenaked in class, teeth falling out, whatever. For Donald Trump, that nightmare is that the world is laughing at the United States, and on Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly, the nightmare came true.
The presidents public remarks are littered with warnings that America is, or might be, the butt of the globes jokes.
The world is laughing at us, Trump said on the stump in October 2016. We dont win at the borders. We dont win with taking care of our vets. We dont win with anything. We dont win anymore. We will start winning again like youve never seen before. Hes kept it up since entering office. At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us as a country? he asked in June 2017. The world is laughing at us. The world is laughing at the stupidity of what we have done with immigration, he said in August.
Dozens of times since 2011, Trump has tweeted the word laughing, and even though thats a fairly common word, the vast majority of the uses involve foreign countries (or groups like ISIS) laughing at the United States.
More recently, however, Trump has argued that the snickering is over.
The world respects our country now, he told a reporter earlier this month, after former President Barack Obama criticized him in a speech. They didnt respect our country when he was running it. They were laughing at our country. Were making great trade deals now and were making fair trade deals, but were making them good for us. And we didnt have that.
Trump has few friends on the international stage, but as his closest foreign confidant, Emmanuel Macron, might say: Au contraire, Monsieur le Président.
In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any other administration in the history of our country. So true, Trump told the UNGA on Tuesday morning. Its a standard Trump line, which he usually delivers in front of two primary audiences: supporters who believe it, and reporters who just scoff and shake their head, knowing its not true.
The delegates at the UN were neither so supportive nor so jaded, and they openly laughed at him. Trump rolled with it. Didnt expect that reaction, but thats okay, he said, eliciting another round of chortling. Still, the reaction had to sting. This is, after all, the same man who tweeted about Obama:
The figurative laughter of 2014 has become the literal laughter of 2018. Perhaps there is a silver lining, though. In an age when the United States is withdrawing from the world stage, allies are saying they cannot rely on Washingtons word, and U.S. soft power is at its lowest ebb in the postWorld War II era, the tittering in Turtle Bay is an indication that America can still unite the global community, if only in giggles.