President Donald Trump isn’t much for self-deprecation or passing off praise. Instead, he seeks it out constantly, betraying a perishing thirst for adulation – even when his relationship to a given event, good or bad, is indirect, tangential or plainly nonexistent.
Trump routinely demands credit for positive economic developments. A great January 2017 jobs report? Trump effect! Old plans to add factory jobs in the US? Trump again. Bonuses to workers, some of which were reportedly negotiated during earlier contract talks, after the GOP tax bill passed? Thanks, Trump!
But those assertions, however fraught, are in some ways familiar. Despite his protests to the contrary, Trump is very much a politician. There are others, though, that defy reality in a more unusual way.
These are 10 of Trump’s most questionable claims to credit and fame, beginning with his Tuesday tweet on airline safety.
10. Overseeing the safest ever year in global commercial airline travel
The skies were friendly to civilian travelers on commercial jets in 2017. Not a single passenger flight crashed all year, anywhere. So in his first volley of post-vacation tweets, Trump on Tuesday applauded … himself.
Asked by CNN what exactly Trump had done to be proud of, the White House said he “has raised the bar for our nation’s aviation safety and security” and pointed to “his initiative to modernize Air Traffic Control” and “enhanced security measures” from the Department of Homeland Security.
Left unsaid: There hasn’t been a fatal US commercial passenger airline crash in the US for nearly a decade.
9. Inventing the decades-old phrase ‘Priming the pump’
In May 2017, Trump met with the editors of The Economist for a chat on economic policy. With Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, by his side, the President held forth – and made the following assertion about the phrase “priming the pump”:
“Have you heard that expression used before?” he asked. “Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just … I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It’s what you have to do.”
The American Heritage Idioms Dictionary traced the saying back to the “late 1800s,” but notes it was first “applied to government efforts to stimulate the economy” during the 1930s.
Trump was born in 1946.
8. Boosting Luther Strange (to a narrower defeat than he’d have otherwise suffered) in the Alabama GOP Senate primary
Democratic Sen.-elect Doug Jones’ special election win in Alabama last month highlighted deep divisions among Republicans in Washington and around the country. In a topsy-turvy race, Trump twice bet on the wrong horse. First he backed Luther Strange to beat Roy Moore in the GOP primary. Moore won. Then he endorsed Moore, who lost to Jones.
Alas, Trump still managed multiple pats of his own back – for helping Strange lose by less than he would have without the President’s support. (Even then, PolitiFact ruled the claim “mostly false.”)
7. For having ‘finished’ off birtherism in 2011
When Obama released his long-form birth certificate in April 2011, Trump touted his role in “getting rid of this issue.”
“We have to look at (the birth certificate), we have to see is it real, is it proper, what’s on it, but I hope it checks out beautifully,” he said. “I am really proud, I am really honored.”
But the lie, and its crude appeal to a certain segment of the voting public, proved too dear to really let go. Trump would peddle it for another five years, before eventually backing off and blaming the whole thing on Hillary Clinton.
6. Popularizing campaign ‘airplane rallies’
Another weird whopper from the 2016 campaign trail here. “Do people notice Hillary is copying my airplane rallies,” he asked in a September tweet. “(S)he puts the plane behind her like I have been doing from the beginning.”
As you’ll see below, Clinton might well have been “copying” any number of former candidates. In fact, using one’s means of transport as a backdrop, first in the form of a train car, for political rallies dates back at least a century.
5. Making a star of Lady Gaga
Did Trump’s foresight launch Lady Gaga’s career? Sure did, Trump says. In a 2011 book, he boasted that his decision to ask her to perform at the 2008 Miss Universe pageant sent her career into the stratosphere.
“I really believe I had at least something to do with it,” Trump wrote. “She became a big star and maybe she became a star because I put her on the Miss Universe pageant. It’s very possible, who knows what would have happened without it, because she caused a sensation.”
4. Winning the 2012 GOP primary in Nevada for Mitt Romney
“There was a lot riding on that particular race in Nevada and it was interesting, because the numbers were much, much greater than you thought,” Trump told his pals on “Fox & Friends” back in February 2012. “And a lot of people are giving me credit for that. And I will accept that credit. Always accept credit.”
Romney indeed kissed Trump’s ring a couple of days before the caucuses opened in Nevada. But he also won with more than 50% of the vote, nearly 30 percentage points better than his closest competition.
3. Dismissing CEOs from his executive council as they quit
When his business advisory boards began to unilaterally dissolve themselves in mid-August, Trump stepped up to see them out the door – and tweet that their departure was his own doing.
And it was, just not quite in the way he put it. The executives were fleeing in response to Trump’s remarks on the deadly violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which the President had attributed to “both sides.” As the ranks dwindled, Trump tweeted his goodbye:
2. Restoring ‘Merry Christmas’ to the American vernacular
A little before 10 p.m. ET on Christmas Eve, Trump took a long-awaited victory lap.
The lengthy and brutal (and wholly imagined) “war on Christmas” was over, he seemed to say, and – thanks to him! – “our cherished and beautiful phrase” had finally scored a decisive win.
1. Setting off the 2017 Oscars ‘Best Picture’ announcement mess
And you thought the infamous flub, which saw Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway team up to incorrectly name “La La Land” the winner (it was “Moonlight”), was the result of mishandled envelopes!
Not so, according to Trump. In a subsequent interview with Breitbart, the President credited himself with throwing the broadcast’s producers and stars off their game.
“I think they were focused so hard on politics that they didn’t get the act together at the end,” he said, adding: “It was a little sad. It took away from the glamour of the Oscars. It didn’t feel like a very glamorous evening. I’ve been to the Oscars. There was something very special missing, and then to end that way was sad.”