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Trump is getting even terrible

By Gail Collins, Opinion Columnist

Things can get worse, and with him, they always do.


Terrible week. Donald Trump was on the road trying to rev up the country against a pitiful caravan of poor people struggling through Mexico. Meanwhile, there was a spate of bombing attempts directed at some of the president’s regular tirade targets, from Hillary Clinton to George Soros to CNN.

The F.B.I. is working on the bombs. Trump has urged the country to unify, to which the country presumably replied, “Now you tell us?”

At his rally in Wisconsin on Wednesday night, Trump did have some early words for peace and harmony. Then he demanded that the media “set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and often time false attacks.” You would think that for at least one evening he’d just mention the importance of a free press. Or even suggest that, say, body-slamming reporters is a bad thing.

This is getting scarier and scarier. The president has been on a rally marathon in which he alternates between saying things that are meant to whip his audience into rage and things that are just wildly egocentric and imaginary. He’ll never improve. All we can do is hope he sticks to his less dangerous form of awfulness.

We want the Donald Trump who yowls about wildly overestimated crowd sizes and nonexistent achievements. For instance, on Monday in Houston he bragged about Brett Kavanaugh and gave the audience a primer on Supreme Court appointments that went like this:

“Who — who appointed the highest percentage of judges? No, no, no, it wasn’t Hillary Clinton. No, she didn’t make it, remember? She didn’t make it. No, you know who it is? You’ll never guess. It’s called George Washington. And we’re after George Washington. So, a very big thing, no, George Washington, why? Because he just started. He did 100 percent. Nobody’s ever going to break that record. Nobody’s ever going to break the record of George Washington.”

Always do enjoy bringing you some Trumpian oratory.

And — wait! In actual reality, Trump is not after George Washington. Franklin Delano Roosevelt placed nine justices on the Supreme Court and Ronald Reagan got four. Trump has gotten two, the same number as George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

I am telling you all this to cheer you up.

During the rally tour, the preferable making-stuff-up Trump also announced “a very major tax cut” just for middle-income people, which would be passed before Nov. 1, or after the election, or “next week,” depending on when you were listening.

“We’ve been working on it for a few months,” he said in Houston.

This appeared to be total news to everybody in his administration. But maybe the “we” Trump referred to was Ivanka and Jared. Jared is great with numbers. Just because his company is teetering on bankruptcy due to one of the most disastrous deals in real estate history doesn’t mean there isn’t some talent. That sort of thing runs in the family.

Asked about details of his plan — like who would count as a middle-income person — Trump said they’d be coming “sometime just prior, I would say, to November.”

That would mean … next week. Well, some details. Maybe its name.

Pop Quiz: What do you think would be a good name for Trump’s tax cut?

A) Herman

B) Biggest Middle-Class Tax Cut Since George Washington

C) Thing That Never Was

I don’t know about you, but I’m kinda going for Herman. Or Rocco.

The cruel-is-cool Trump has been ranting about immigration, claiming the caravan of desperate families making their way out of Central America included bad people “from the Middle East.” None of the reporters who have been walking through the caravan have come across anything like this. The president claimed he learned it from Border Patrol officers. He quotes unnamed Border Patrol officers a lot. You get the impression that in the still of the night when everybody else is asleep and he can’t think of anything to twitter, he calls up the border police and chats about their day.

“Wait until you see what happens over the next couple of weeks,” he told the Wisconsin crowd, in one of the more ominous moments of the night. “You are going to see a very secure border. Very secure. You just watch. The military is ready. They’re all set.”

John Bolton, the freaky national security adviser, and John Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, had what is known in polite circles as a “profanity-laced argument” about border policy. We’ve been hearing a lot lately about Kelly’s temper. This is sort of disturbing, since he’s supposed to be one of the not-insane people in the administration who will keep a lid on things if the president goes totally batty. Another is Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who Trump recently described as “sort of a Democrat” who “may leave. I mean, at some point everybody leaves.”

When you’re down and out, keep that last little bit in mind. At some point everybody leaves.

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