Politics & Policy

Trump’s Hearing Problem

(Scott Olson/Getty)

Have you noticed how often people come up to Donald Trump and tell him he’s right? We don’t get to see or hear all this unsolicited praise, but he assures us he does.

Last week, in an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Trump asserted that he was winning over a skeptical press. “In fact yesterday, at the speech — and I was very proud, because the CNN reporter said it was the single greatest political speech she’s ever heard, which was very nice as far as I was concerned.”

The hosts wondered just which CNN reporter was so effusive. “I don’t know her name,” Trump said. “But she was wearing a beautiful red dress. She looked good to me. Anybody that says that looks good to me.”

CNN said that neither of its correspondents at the Trump event wore red that day, and that neither of them interacted with Trump in that way. Perhaps it was another network’s correspondent.

The other GOP candidates are quietly on Trump’s side, too. They bucked him up during the now-infamous flap over Megyn Kelly’s debate questioning. “It was an inappropriate question. It was a ridiculous question,” Trump told NBC News’s Savannah Guthrie. “Even the other candidates came up to me and said that that was absolutely out of line.”

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Trump has a lot of support that he just can’t tell us about. Secret sources have confirmed his suspicions that Mexico is sending its criminals to the United States. In another appearance on Morning Joe, panelist Mark Halperin asked him, “I’d just like you to be as specific as can you in saying how do you know the Mexican government is sending people over? What’s your evidence of that?”

“Because I heard from five different sources,” Trump responded, describing border guards with tears in their eyes.

Trump has a lot of support that he just can’t tell us about.

Halperin continued to push. “What are your five sources that say the Mexican government purposely sends their criminals to the United States?”

“I’ll reveal my sources when you reveal your sources, Mark,” Trump shot back. “I have a lot of information on it and so do — so does everyone else, and you probably do, too, and for some reason they don’t want to put out this information.”

It must be extraordinarily frustrating for Trump to have highly placed, knowledgeable sources who verify his assertion of a secret Mexican conspiracy to flood America with criminals, and who simply aren’t willing to come forward.

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You may recall that phone call between Trump and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus. Unidentified “GOP donors familiar with Priebus’s thinking” told the Washington Post that the RNC chairman urged Trump to “tone it down” — “a phrase used repeatedly by those with knowledge of the exchange.” — while discussing illegal immigration.

Trump remembers the call quite differently.

“We didn’t discuss it, he did say, you know, perhaps you could tone it down a little bit, if that’s possible, but I also know it’s your personality and you are who you are, and that’s the way it is,” Trump told CNN. “It was a very brief call, a very a nice call, and it was more of a congratulatory call more than anything else.” The RNC’s spokesman declined to characterize the call in detail.

#share#Maybe there’s a reason The Donald prefers to keep his supporters anonymous: Every once in a while, he names them, and they turn out to be . . . not so supportive.

In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo about women in combat roles in the military, Trump said, “I’ll tell you what, I know some woman that are just — Ronda Rousey is an example, who likes me. . . . I’d take her on my side as a fighter.” (Rousey is a mixed martial artist, actress, and the first and current UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion.)

Rousey was subsequently asked about Trump, and declared, “I wouldn’t vote for him. . . . I just really wouldn’t trust the guy with running my country, that’s all. I’m not really going to get into specifics of it, but, I mean, I don’t want a reality TV star to be running my country.”

Trump hears what he wants to hear. Criticism is either ignored or somehow misperceived as more affirmation.

Trump was asked on Meet the Press whom he talks to for advice on foreign policy. Trump said he “watched the shows,” mentioned John Bolton, and then added, “Colonel Jack Jacobs is a good guy. And I see him on occasion.” Jacobs later told Mother Jones that while he has seen Trump at “a number of functions,” he has had no discussions with Trump about national-security issues.

In that same interview with Cuomo, Trump stated, “I was given the biggest award by the Marines the other day, one of the biggest civilian awards by the Marines the other day.”

Not quite. Trump was given an award by a civilian charity, the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, which provides scholarships to the children of fallen United States Marines and federal law-enforcement officers. Trump’s generosity is commendable, but it was convenient for him to mistake a private organization not affiliated with the military for the U.S. Marine Corps.

#related#In Trump’s mind, the case for his election is self-evident: Network correspondents think his speeches are the greatest ever, even his rivals think he’s unfairly targeted by the media, Reince Priebus thinks he’s doing a great job, the Marines are giving him their highest civilian honor, and a wide network of credible sources concurs with his policy assessments. Of course, taken altogether the evidence suggests the opposite: He is a candidate walking around in his own bubble of self-delusion. He hears what he wants to hear. Criticism is either ignored or somehow misperceived as more affirmation.

Would such a man really be an improvement on the current president?

— Jim Geraghty is the senior political correspondent for National Review.

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