Welcome to POTUS Said What?!, a weekly roundup of Trump’s most asinine and ineloquent sound bytes and our effort to understand WTF he’s even talking about.
This week, we tackle Trump’s non-existent policy ideas to end the opioid epidemic, his never-ending attacks on a Gold Star widow who spoke out against him, and more.
WTF? Given how many people he’s duped through the marketing of his own name, it’s no surprise that Donald Trump thinks solving one of the most devastating health crises comes down to a few good signs and commercials.
This week, Trump finally spoke about the opioid crisis that has ravaged the U.S. for the past several years, leading to the deaths of roughly 64,000 people in 2016 alone. His biggest policy recommendation? Basically telling people, “Don’t do drugs.” Bad news: Researchers have already found that initiatives like the infamous D.A.R.E. program are virtually ineffective at curbing drug use. What is effective? Experts in the field say that solutions are complex and would require difficult actions, like taking on the powerful pharmaceutical industry and creating pathways to actually treat addiction. Unfortunately, we know Trump isn’t a fan of, you know, doing non-Trump brand work.
WTF? This was Trump’s takeaway after a call with Gold Star widow Myeshia Johnson. Unfortunately, that’s not how Johnson would describe the phone call. She went on Good Morning America to allege that Trump hadn’t known the name of her spouse, Sgt. La David Johnson, who died during a combat mission in Niger. She also confirmed previous reports that Trump said that the late Johnson “knew what he signed up for.”
Because grace isn’t something that Trump knows much about, he couldn’t let it go. He took to Twitter to refute Johnson’s claims, then he also talked to the press about it, which by the way, is how you know it’s really bothering him. It didn’t help matters for POTUS that other Gold Star families spoke up about how Trump either hadn’t called, hadn’t been particularly supportive on the call, or had made promises he didn’t keep. In one case, he told a Gold Star father that he’d be making a $25,000 donation to the family before going radio silent — that is, until the story made national headlines.
WTF? This is about Chinese President Xi Jinping. Sure, the man has “president” as his title, but critics have said regularly that Xi’s government is bordering on authoritarian. That said, given Trump’s public admiration of dangerous leaders like Russia’s Putin and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, none of this is shocking.
WTF? Trump continued to obsess over Fake News (snore) during his interview this week with Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs, claiming that the press was spreading false information with sources that he believes don’t exist. Given that Trump’s administration only appears to do something after a major story breaks — the $25,000 Gold Star family check is a great example — it seems like the press, for all of its flaws, is uncovering quite a bit of truth.
We’re going to state the obvious for Trump here: Maybe the press wouldn’t be so negative if the administration wasn’t so damn terrible to virtually every demographic that wasn’t white and male.
WTF? In yet another unsurprising but still cringe-worthy moment, Donald Trump asked his interviewer Lou Dobbs to pick his Federal Reserve chair for him. “You can even cut it out if you want. You don't have to. I would love to hear you. I only want that from people I respect,” he badgered.
We wouldn’t even be the least bit shocked at this point if the president had no idea who current Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen was until this week. Hell, we wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t know the Federal Reserve existed until this month. All he had to say about Yellen was that she was “somebody I am thinking about.” No one’s ever called Trump a man of specifics.
Lily Herman is a contributing editor at Refinery29. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, Glamour, Allure, TIME, Newsweek, Fast Company, and Mashable. Follow her on Twitter. The views expressed are her own.