Remember when you were a kid, and you were so convinced of something that it just had to be true — you would defend it no matter how silly you looked. Like some urban legend about an aging rock star who went crazy on stage, and you’d say, “No, my, um, uncle was there, man!”
It’s okay to admit that stuff now because you’re a grown-up, but way back when, admitting you were wrong about something big like that was tantamount to admitting you were stupid.
Apparently, that need to be correct at all costs has never really gone away for Donald Trump in the 60+ years it’s been since he should have stopped lying to impress people. We saw it right away in his presidency — and I mean the day he became president — with the whole “size of the inauguration crowd” debacle. But America didn’t really know yet what we were dealing with until Trump’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway, came up with the phrase “alternative facts.”
That alternate reality appears to be where Donald Trump lives. Take, for example, the claim he made last year at a rally in Florida, where most of his attendees were not, to put it kindly, “stable geniuses” and therefore likely to believe anything he said. He was off on a tirade about terrorism in Europe as part of his call to ban Muslims from the United States, and he said to the assembled crowd:
“You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”
The problem was, nothing notable had happened the previous night in Sweden. In fact, it really confused officials in the Scandinavian country, which quickly let everyone know that nothing terrible had happened. It turned out, in fact, that Trump was referring to a Fox News interview where some right-winger was trying to blame all of the problems in Europe on immigrants, and as usual, Trump was only kind of half listening:
My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2017
He went on to defend the statement first as not having been what people were saying he said, then his Press Secretary defended it as being part of a larger statement, and by the time he was interviewed by TIME Magazine, Trump was back to saying he was right to begin with — in advance, like a psychic:
During a news conference on Tuesday with the Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Löfven, a Swedish reporter asked Donald something about his view of immigration in Sweden.
“Now that you spend some time with our prime minister, how do you view Sweden, in general?” the reporter asked. “What is your take? And also on our immigration politics?”
“It’s caused problems in Sweden,” Trump said. “I was one of the first ones to say it. I took a little heat, but that was okay because I proved to be right.”
The Swedes present were once again baffled. Trump still can’t let it go.
Featured image via Alex Wong/Getty Images