6 times Donald Trump goofed up the simple stuff

He gets the big things wrong—and also, the little things.

Published April 24, 2017 3:10AM (EDT)

Trump goofs up on the regular.  (Getty/Saul Loeb/Salon)
Trump goofs up on the regular. (Getty/Saul Loeb/Salon)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.


Donald Trump makes a lot of goofs. Yes, he’s seriously mistaken on nearly every aspect of foreign and domestic policy -- all the big, scary and dangerous stuff -- but he also just gets the little things wrong, too. He frequently sends out misspelled tweets. He makes off-the-cuff statements with colleagues that are meant to be self-aggrandizing but instead unintentionally drive home how much he doesn’t know about how things work. He thinks this is how you shake hands, unless he’s in the room with Angela Merkel, in which case he goes into girl-cooties avoidance mode. He’s just kind of a disaster, a butterfingers, a foot-in-mouth gaffetastic flub-machine that doesn’t know much and can’t be bothered to learn. He’s also a raging hypocrite, which makes the whole show even more irritating to watch.

There’ve been a lot of examples of these public screw ups, the most minor are kind of funny. I mean, if you can stave off the tears from recognizing this guy is calling the shots for the next four years. Here are 6 times Donald Trump goofed up the simple stuff.

1. When Melania had to remind him to put his hand on his heart for the national anthem.

At this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll -- which almost didn’t happen because the Trump team is a trickle-down disaster -- video caught Second Lady Melania Trump nudging her husband as the Star Spangled Banner began. It’s interesting that someone who has spent so much time calling himself the “America First” president needed an immigrant to remind him to put his hand over the hole where his heart should be during the national anthem. It’s only slightly less interesting than the deafening hypocrickets from right-wingers who demanded Gabby Douglas apologize and Obama be sent to patriotism prison for doing the same. Trump, who is half-foreign under Republican rules, displays an unnerving unfamiliarity with our ways and customs that suggests someone should ask to see his papers -- the long form version -- stat.

2. When he forgot which country he was bombing.

During an interview in which Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo played the giddy, giggling fangirl to Trump’s great, big strongman, the two discussed the moment the latter decided to strike Syria. (“I will tell you,” Trump told Bartiromo, who sat poised to snap up the next treat the president tossed her way. “Only because you’ve treated me so good for so long.”) Trump went into a spiel about the dessert he was sharing with China President Xi Jinping, a “beautiful piece of chocolate cake” he recalled in detail down the molecular structure. Where the bombs were going, though, had slipped his mind.

“So what happened is, I said [to President Xi], ‘We’ve just launched 59 missiles heading to Iraq,’” Trump said.

Bartiromo corrected him and then resumed the lovefest.

3. When he forgot Paul Ryan’s name. Twice.

At an event in Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin, Trump attempted to name check the Speaker of the House -- a guy he’d thrown under Jeanine Pirro’s bus just weeks before. Maybe thrown off by the fact that Senator Ron Johnson was also in the room, Trump proceeded to call Ryan the wrong name twice.

“I said, Ron, make sure these [NATO] countries start paying their bills a little bit more,” Trump said, referring to a man whose name is definitely “Paul.”

“They’re way, way behind, Ron,” Trump continued, speaking about the guy whose name is still, without question, “Paul.”

Trump then looked toward the actual Senator Ron Johnson in the audience and added, “I’m going to talk to you about that too, Ron.”

4. When he confused Kim Jong-Il and Kim Jong-Un.

Appearing on “Fox & Friends” (what, you thought he’d go on a real news network?) Trump talked about all the ways his predecessors had been played for suckers by the Supreme Leader of North Korea.

“They've been talking with this gentleman for a long time,” Trump said. “You read Clinton's book, he said, 'Oh, we made such a great peace deal,' and it was a joke. You look at different things over the years, with President Obama. Everybody's been outplayed. They've all been outplayed by this gentleman.”
”The implication seems to be that Trump isn’t going to fall for more of the same shenanigans from “this gentleman,” which would be more believable if he had any idea what the hell he was talking about. Because from the looks of things, Donald Trump has no idea that there have been three rulers of North Korea since the Clinton administration began negotiations with the country. The first, Kim il-Sung, died suddenly in 1994. His son, Kim Jong-il, ran things for most of the Clinton administration and the entirety of Obama’s first term. The current leader, Kim Jong-un only took over in December 2011. Meaning “that gentleman” was was a tween and high schooler when Trump claims he was “outplaying” America’s presidents.

5. All the times he's asked a crowd if they were aware of widely-known facts.

Trump is no brainiac, obviously, but the overdrafts in his knowledge bank of basic facts are pretty astounding. Although he has claimed to know more than anyone else on the face of the Earth about numerous topics he has never studied or correctly pronounced, Trump has accidentally announced his breadth of ignorance on more than a few occasions. Here’s a list of a few:

Speaking at a dinner for the National Republican Congressional, Trump attempt to share information he has just learned about Abraham Lincoln with the audience: “Most people don't even know he was a Republican,” Trump said, which is absolutely not true. "Right? Does anyone know? A lot of people don't know that. We have to build that up a little bit more.”

At a Black History Month event, Trump decided to applaud some of the civil rights icons he clearly didn’t have an iota of interest in. “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job that is being recognized more and more, I noticed," Trump said, highlighting the recent strides made by a man who’s been dead since 1895.

Given the podium at a women’s empowerment meeting at the White House, Trump actually asked the assembled, “Have you heard of Susan B. Anthony? I’m shocked that you’ve heard of her!”

It’s seriously like the Dunning-Krueger effect sprouted legs, put a bird’s nest on its head, and 63 million people voted for it to “shake up the establishment.

6. When he quoted an Irish proverb that is actually Nigerian.

While with Irish prime minister Enda Kenny on St. Patrick’s day, Trump recited the first thing that came up when some lazy staffer Googled “Irish proverbs.”

"As we stand together with our Irish friends, I'm reminded of that proverb -- and this is a good one,” Trump said. “This is one I like. I've heard it for many, many years and I love it. 'Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue. But never forget to remember those that have stuck by you.'"

Except that proverb is very likely the work of a Nigerian poet, which Steve Bannon and the alt-righties that love him were probably psyched to learn.

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

By Kali Holloway

Kali Holloway is the senior director of Make It Right, a project of the Independent Media Institute. She co-curated the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s MetLiveArts 2017 summer performance and film series, “Theater of the Resist.” She previously worked on the HBO documentary Southern Rites, PBS documentary The New Public and Emmy-nominated film Brooklyn Castle, and Outreach Consultant on the award-winning documentary The New Black. Her writing has appeared in AlterNet, Salon, the Guardian, TIME, the Huffington Post, the National Memo, and numerous other outlets.

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Alternet Angela Merkel Donald Trump Melania North Korea Paul Ryan