Speaking at the Pentagon on Thursday, in a speech that was supposed to be part of the Missile Defense Review program, Donald Trump told members of the United States military that the rest of the world thought they were “fools,” according to a CNN report. But the statement was just latest in a long series of examples of what one reporter called “a recurring feature of Trump’s rhetoric: talk of people laughing at other people or calling them idiots behind their backs.”
Toronto Star correspondent Daniel Dale, who regularly fact-checks Trump’s speeches and public statements, made the observation on his Twitter feed Thursday, quoting Trump telling the military, “[w]e cannot be the fools for others. We cannot be. We don’t want to be called that. And I will tell you, for many years, behind your backs, that’s what they were saying.”
The first known public instance of Trump’s fixation on people laughing at others — or in many cases, at the United States — came, as BuzzFeed News recounts, nearly 32 years ago when Trump seemingly out of nowhere spent about $100,000 — about $235,000 in today’s dollars — to take out full-page ads in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe to blast United States foreign policy.
“The world is laughing at America’s politicians as we protect ships we don’t own, carrying oil we don’t need, destined for allies who won’t help,” Trump wrote in the open letter ripping NATO and the U.S. government and military. Trump published the ads just two months after returning from the Soviet Union, as Inquisitr reported.
But the ads were only the beginning of Trump’s more-than-three-decade obsession with other countries and world leaders “laughing at” the U.S. and Americans. The Trump Twitter Archive lists 52 separate tweets since 2011 in which Trump declared that some foreign entity was “laughing at” the U.S., or in some cases, Americans “laughing at” other Americans.
“OPEC is laughing at how stupid we are,” Trump said in a 2012 Twitter posting.
“The Mullahs are laughing at what they think is a very stupid president, @BarackObama,” he wrote on Twitter the previous year.
More recently, just one week ago, Trump wrote on Twitter that “Russia & the world is laughing at the stupidity they are witnessing,” referring to the Russia collusion investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
In fact, just a week after Trump’s inauguration in 2016, the Washington Post ran an analysis that found more than 100 instances in which Trump has claimed that other countries or “the world” were laughing at the U.S. — with China being in Trump’s view the most frequent laugher, with 35 mentions of the Chinese “laughing at” Americans.
The video below compiles a sampling of Trump’s claims that the United States is being “laughed at.”
But while Trump’s fixation on being laughed at may appear to be nothing more than a recurring rhetorical device, it may indicate a deeper problem with Trump’s own personality, according to an analysis by Sara Robinson of Rewire News.
“The burgeoning literature on Trump’s hypersensitivity to the laughter of others hasn’t yet touched on the most important fact of all. It isn’t just pathetic. It’s dangerous,” Robinson wrote. “When we hear Trump say, ‘They’re laughing at us,’ it’s almost certainly because he’s about to put forth a policy explicitly designed to assert dominance or act out rage, abusing the vast powers of his office to brutally stuff some inferior group or nation back into its perceived place because they have dared to challenge him. Trump’s fear of being laughed at is the clearest possible sign that we have installed an abuser-in-chief in the White House.”