For Your Society

Trump is a genius at touting nonexistent achievements

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump during a summit at Sentosa Island, Singapore, on Tuesday. (KCNA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

When it comes to economics, history, foreign policy, health care, tax policy or any other field that it is important for a president to master, Donald Trump is an invincible ignoramus. But when it comes to salesmanship, Trump is an unparalleled genius — he is Dale Carnegie, P.T. Barnum and David Ogilvy rolled into one. His central insight is that in the post-truth, social media age, it is no longer necessary to achieve anything in order to claim a policy victory. You can just say over and over that you’ve accomplished your goals — and a lot of people will believe you even if it’s just not so.

This is why Trump says he is already building his border wall with Mexico even though Congress has not appropriated money for it and Mexico hasn’t volunteered to pay for it, as he once said it would. The president even tweeted photos of a wall being built. On closer examination, however, this turned out to be a section of fencing that was in the works before his election. But Trump no doubt assumes that his followers will never notice the fact checks from the “fake news media,” and, even if they do, will never believe them.

Trump applied the same method to the Iran nuclear deal. On June 7, he said that, as a result of his withdrawal from the accord, “Iran is acting a lot differently. They’re no longer looking so much to the Mediterranean. They’re no longer looking so much to what’s going on in Syria, what’s going on in Yemen and lots of other places. They’re a much different country over the last three months.” There is, in fact, zero evidence of any change in Iranian behavior. Tehran is threatening to ramp up nuclear production and carrying out war crimes in Syria, backing the Houthis in Yemen and engineering a political deal in Iraq to place its proxies in power. It is exactly the same country it was when Trump left the nuclear deal; if anything, it is now more dangerous.

All this was merely a prelude for Trump’s most audacious faux achievement yet. On Wednesday, he tweeted that “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” In fact, North


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