CNN  — 

On Sunday night, President Donald Trump tweeted out a picture of himself standing in front of Mount Rushmore – an image that made him look as though he was the fifth presidential bust on the iconic monument.

Here’s the shot:

US President Donald Trump arrives for the Independence Day events at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Moments later, he tweeted out a sort-of denial of a New York Times report that he had spoken with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem about the possibility of adding his own visage to those of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

Tweeteth Trump:

“This is Fake News by the failing @nytimes & bad ratings @CNN. Never suggested it although, based on all of the many things accomplished during the first 3 1/2 years, perhaps more than any other Presidency, sounds like a good idea to me.”

So Trump says a) he has never raised the possibility with Noem of being added to Mount Rushmore but b) thinks it sounds like a great idea!

Let’s take the first point, uh, first.

We know that Trump has, in fact, raised the topic with Noem and that he was serious about it.

“He said, ‘Kristi, come on over here. Shake my hand,’” Noem told the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader about a meeting with Trump in the Oval Office. “I shook his hand, and I said, ‘Mr. President, you should come to South Dakota sometime. We have Mount Rushmore.’ And he goes, ‘Do you know it’s my dream to have my face on Mount Rushmore?’. “I started laughing. He wasn’t laughing, so he was totally serious.”

Then there’s this from a Trump campaign rally in July 2017:

“Every single president on Mt. Rushmore – I’d ask whether or not you think I will someday be on Mt. Rushmore. But here’s the problem: If i did it, joking, totally joking, the fake news media would say he believes he should be on Mt. Rushmore. So I won’t say it.”

He’s not joking. Remember that Trump always uses the I-am-just-joking-and-you-media-stiffs-don’t-get-it explanation whenever he says something that a) he means and b) he wants to give himself the ability to walk away from. But he’s not joking. Not at all.

Don’t take my word for it. Take Noem’s. Again!

This is from the Times story that ran on Sunday (bolding is mine):

“Introducing Mr. Trump against the floodlit backdrop of his carved predecessors, the governor played to the president’s craving for adulation by noting that in just three days more than 125,000 people had signed up for only 7,500 seats; she likened him to Theodore Roosevelt, a leader who “braves the dangers of the arena”; and she mimicked the president’s rhetoric by scorning protesters who she said were seeking to discredit the country’s founders.

“In private, the efforts to charm Mr. Trump were more pointed, according to a person familiar with the episode: Ms. Noem greeted him with a four-foot replica of Mount Rushmore that included a fifth presidential likeness: his.”

She had a Mount Rushmore replica made with Trump’s face on it! Repeat: She had a Mount Rushmore replica made with Trump’s face on it!

Is that the sort of thing you would do if you thought the President of the United States was kidding? Especially after you had a conversation with him about his “dream” being added to Mount Rushmore, a conversation you told the media was “totally serious?”

Of course not!

Then consider what we already know about Trump:

1) He’s a real estate guy who believes that the way you stay relevant – and ensure you are remembered – is to put your name (or face!) on everything you can.

2) He’s repeatedly said that he is up there with the best presidents ever. “I’ve always said I can be more presidential than any president in history except for Honest Abe Lincoln, when he’s wearing the hat,” Trump said in 2019. In a speech at the United Nations in 2018, Trump said that “in less than two years my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”

Now, ask yourself this: Is there ANY chance that Trump was anything but deadly serious when he told Noem that it was his “dream” to be on Mount Rushmore? And that, if there is ANY way it could be made to happen that he would jump at the chance?

(Side bar: There is, in fact no more room for Trump – or any other presidential head – on Mount Rushmore. “There is no more carvable space up on the sculpture,” Maureen McGee-Ballinger, a public information officer at Mount Rushmore, told the Argus Leader. “When you are looking on the sculpture, it appears there might be some space on the left next to Washington or right next to Lincoln. You are either looking at the rock that is beyond the sculpture (on the right), which is an optical illusion, or on the left, that is not carvable.”)

Of course, there are other mountains…

I kid – but not totally! From his interest in buying Greenland to his push for a military parade in downtown Washington, Trump has attempted (or at least considered) doing things that presidents just, well, don’t do. Given all that history, you would be crazy to think Trump might not look seriously into getting his face carved into a mountain somewhere in America.

In fact, Noem has already told Trump as much.

“Come pick out a mountain,” she told him during that Oval Office visit.