Donald Trump would like America to be exceptional and have the rest of the world in awe of us, but as he told Greta Van Susteren last night, he isn’t too keen on actually doing things that would earn the US some respect abroad.
His remarks were in response to Bill Maher’s recent statement, that America should just get over the notion of its exceptionalism – the notion that “if we have any flaw, it's that we make other countries feel bad because our awesomeness is so overwhelming.” Maher also bashed the Mormon faith: “Mormons embrace more than anybody that we are the super-duper star-spangled best country ever! And if we have any flaw, it's that we make other countries feel bad because our awesomeness is so overwhelming. People laugh at me, but I would say in 100 years, this country will be Mormon. It's a stupid religion and a stupid country. They were made for each other.”
Speaking to Van Susteren by phone, Trump massaged Maher's words to suit his message. “We'd like to be exceptional. I think we can be exceptional again… When he mentions the fact that we're a stupid country, I assume he's talking about how Obama is running it.” (Now, really, Mr. Trump, you know that wasn’t what he meant!)
Van Susteren noted that in general, the United States has been generous with its aid to the rest of the world. “We do agriculture, economic, education, women's rights, human trafficking, water and sanitation, earthquake, tsunami help, any crisis -- I mean, we are -- I mean, we do take the lead in so many things.” Yeah, Trump responded, and we can’t afford it. “And it's just aid we should probably in many cases not give. We give aid to some people that can't stand us. They go around and they take advantage of us, stupidly for us.” (I don’t know what he means by “exceptional” then. Being powerful enough to bomb the shit out of anyone we don’t like?)
Van Susteren persisted. “At the core of this is the United States does remain exceptional in the sense we have -- we have a willingness to try to make the world better, I mean, as in, sometimes even to our personal detriment." Well, Trump replied, making the world better is OK when you're rich, but we’re not a rich country anymore. "A lot of bad politicians have seen to it we're not rich.” After that, though, the two of them were soon singing in chorus again, bashing Maher for making offensive, bigoted remarks disguised as comedy.
Oh, and by the way, gentle reader, here's a bit of irony to put in your tea. Trump concluded his latest stint as a pundit by lamenting how CNN and MSNBC had lost their way, and harking back to the great days of Walter Cronkite. “He was like your father… He was something special. You watched him and you trusted him and you believed in him.” That was ironic because just two hours before, Bill O’Reilly and Bernie Goldberg had lumped Cronkite in with Dan Rather, Edward R. Murrow and all those other left-leaning media types that had to be counteracted with some good old Fox News F&B.