The rollercoaster that is Donald Trump’s presidency continued to veer off the rails this week.
As the election nears but the US economy contracts further (it’s suffered the “worst economic decline on record”... whoops!) Trump is getting rattled about his re-election prospects.
And it turns out that a rattled Donald Trump engages in even more bizarre behaviour than a relaxed one.
Here’s 8 awful, ridiculous or just downright weird things Donald Trump did this week.
1. When he said a doctor who believes in “demon sperm” was “very impressive”
How do you get to a point where you’re only discussing “demon sperm” in reference to a serving US president but, worse, it makes total sense?
It’s all because of Trump’s inability to criticise people who seem to agree with his opinions, no matter how many times leading experts have debunked them. This week, the president’s penchant for amplifying voices that probably should have stayed quiet meant the world at large was introduced to Stella Immanuel, a conspiracy theorist and evangelical preacher who also happens to be a doctor.
In a viral video now-removed by Twitter and Facebook, Immanuel claimed that coronavirus could be cured by hydroxychloroquine, a claim that has been disproven repeatedly. “This virus has a cure,” Immanuel said to the camera. “It is called hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax. Hello? You don’t need a mask. There is a cure”.
In a press conference later, Trump praised the doctor as “very impressive”, saying:
I thought she was very impressive in the sense that from where she came. I don't know which country she comes from, but she said that she's had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients, and I thought her voice was an important voice.
It later emerged that among Immanuel’s other teachings are claims that scientists are developing a vaccine to stop people from being religious and that the US government are actually lizards. She also said that women can become impregnated by “demon sperm” in 2013, saying:
They turn into a woman and then they sleep with the man and collect his sperm. Then they turn into the man and they sleep with a man and deposit the sperm and reproduce more of themselves.
I think everyone can agree, exactly the sort of sensible rhetoric this pandemic’s been missing.
2. When he ranted about his approval rating at a press conference
Only Trump would manage to turn a question about the absence of his top doctor into a meandering rant about why “nobody likes [him]”.
At Tuesday’s briefing, the absence of top epidemiologist, Dr Antony Fauci – who has politely clashed with Trump over misinformation several times during the pandemic – was noted by journalists.
When asked about why Fauci wasn’t there, Trump took the opportunity to instead whine about approval ratings. Beginning by noting Fauci had a “very good” approval rating, the president then added “Because remember, he's working for this administration. He's working with us”.
He then went on to muse about how the top doctors working with him had managed to maintain their public approval ratings while his tanked, saying:
He's working with our administration and for the most part, we've done pretty much what he and Dr. Birx and others, who are terrific, recommended.
And he's got this high approval rating. So why don't I have a high approval rating with respect — and the administration, with respect to the virus? We should have a very high — because what we have done in terms of — we're just reading off about the masks and the gowns and the ventilators and numbers that nobody's seen.
Trump’s conclusion? A joke-that-wasn’t-a-joke about his personality.
"So it sort of is curious. A man works for us, with us, very closely, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, very highly thought of. And yet they're highly thought of, but nobody likes me. It can only be my personality, that’s all".
The words of a man totally unbothered by the situation! Who’s doing just fine with it, thanks!
3. When he announced he was giving a multi-million dollar loan to a camera company to make drugs
Trump announced on Wednesday that the federal government would be handing over $759m of cold hard cash to Kodak, so they could pivot from the photography business into making pharmaceuticals to fight coronavirus.
“Our 33rd use of the Defense Production Act will mobilize Kodak to make generic, active pharmaceutical ingredients,” said Trump, after the reveal.
“We will bring back our jobs and we will make America the world’s premier medical manufacturer and supplier”.
But many are suspicious of the exact timeline involved in the deal – and just how many Kodak executives seem to have bought more shares before the loan was announced, sending the share price through the roof.
Others have criticized the decision as a waste of money when millions of Americans are experiencing financial hardship and need support.
4. When he wanted to delay the election
It is becoming increasingly obvious that Trump is worried about his election prospects as more polls put challenger Joe Biden ahead. The surest sign yet came on Thursday when Trump began tweeting what must have felt like an absolutely golden brainwave when he had it: why not simply… delay the election?
As a man used to getting what he wants, it must have seemed an obvious solution. Unfortunately, the little matter of ‘the Constitution’ and the need for a bunch of laws to be passed by Congress in order to make a delayed election even a remote possibility, suggest that this a very unlikely outcome (knock on wood).
Meanwhile, others pointed out the election delay might have an unwanted outcome…
5. When he made a “racist” jibe about “low-income housing”
Donald might be trying to delay the election but he’s still trying to court voters as a back up plan. What’s his strategy? Apparently making barely-veiled, racially-charged pledges to people living the “Suburban Lifestyle Dream” that he will make sure they’re not “bothered” or “financially hurt” by “low-income housing”.
Given that it’s common knowledge that ethnic minority groups like Black or Hispanic people are more likely to face housing discrimination and end up in low-income housing, it was pretty obvious was Trump was getting at. And people quickly called him out.
Some even said his promise amounted to “residential segregation”.
We’re sure Trump will be horrified by the implications that he definitely didn’t consider.
6. When he ranted about Berlin
Sadly it doesn’t look like Trump will be heading to Berghain anytime soon.
This week the Commander-in-Chief decided to pull almost 12,000 troops out of Berlin. While the Pentagon briefed that it was a long-term military strategy, Trump told reporters a different story, saying Germany wasn’t spending enough on defence and he was punishing them for it.
[US troops] are there to protect Germany, right? And Germany is supposed to pay for it,” he said.
Germany’s not paying for it. We don’t want to be the suckers anymore. The United States has been taken advantage of for 25 years, both on trade and on the military. So we’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills.
He also called Germany “delinquent”, saying US troops were “protecting Germany and they’re delinquent, that doesn’t make sense”.
Trump is, again, wrong – Germany does not owe the US or Nato any money. But hey, who cares about details?
7. When he called Twitter “illegal” because of unflattering trending topics
A classic piece of Trump rage here; the president lashed out at Twitter, the platform that both sustains and torments him, because, urm… he keeps trending for bad reasons.
In a bizarre rant on Monday, Trump called the ‘Trending’ bar “disgusting, adding:
Sooo many trends are about me, and never a good one.
They look for anything they can find, make it as bad as possible, and blow it up, trying to make it trend.
Really ridiculous, illegal, and, of course, very unfair!
All we can say is: you made your bed.
8. When he got into a fight with the Ronald Reagan Foundation
Out of all the ex-US presidents, Trump seems to have the most admiration for Ronald Reagan and has previously boasted about their vague acquaintance.
But that all went down the drain this week when he was politely asked by the Ronald Reagan Foundation to stop using his predecessor’s name and image in money-making drives.
The formal request was put in after the last straw, in this case an appeal sent from the Trump Make America Great Again Committee which offered two commemorative coins, one engraved with Reagan’s image and one with Trump’s, to anyone donating more than $45 to the latter’s re-election campaign.
Trump then accused his media enemy, The Washington Post, of ‘running’ the Reagan Foundation and took a potshot at former ally Fox News, who he’s now on the outs with after reporting news that didn’t show him in a favourable light.
It’s not the first time Trump has embarrassed himself regarding Reagan. In 2019 he shared a fake quote attributed to Reagan that falsely claimed when Reagan had met a young-Trump he felt he was “shaking hands with the president”.
The same year, Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis wrote a column for the Post asking Republicans to “stop using [her father]” to “justify’ their “silence” on Trump.
Looks like Reagan-relations are officially frosty.
See you next week!