In 2014, before he ran for President, Donald Trump said that America had become the laughing stock of the world. It was a theme he repeated over and over throughout his campaign: the rest of the world was laughing at us, and we had lost their respect. At the beginning of 2016, The Washington Post estimated that he had used this phrase 103 times, not just in campaign speeches, but in tweets, years-old videos, and commencement speeches at places like Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. He's still at it, too: as recently as February of this year, he said that "the world is laughing at us" over our immigration policies.
Well, today he learned what it was like to be the butt of the joke when he gave his yearly address to the United Nations General Assembly - which he arrived late to and lost his spot to the President of Ecuador. The speech itself, written by White House adviser Stephen Miller, was the usual "America First" pablum we've come to expect from the president, with statements like, "We reject the ideology of globalism and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism." However, it was relieved by one truly extraordinary moment when, shortly after he began to speak, Trump said:
"Today I stand before the UNGA to share the extraordinary progress we’ve made. In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country."
At this point, the room began laughing. "So true," he uttered, trying to correct them, but the horse was out of the barn and the room exploded into riotous laughter, diminishing the supposed leader of the free world. "Didn't expect that reaction, but OK," he responded, as the room continued laughing.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that in terms of actual, legislative achievements, the only two things Trump has achieved are the stolen appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch and the disastrous 2017 tax cuts. The rest of the time, if Bob Woodward's Fear is to be believed, he has harangued his advisers, eaten thousands of Big Macs, and watched hours and hours of TV a day, leaving the duties of running the government to his army of sycophants. Any other "accomplishments" that his administration can point to, such as withdrawing from the Iran Deal and the Paris Climate Accords, and throwing immigrant children in cages, has received international condemnation from our allies and enemies alike.
Trump's supporters may love it when he tells them that America is respected again now that he's in charge, but under his rule, our position on the world stage has never been more diminished. And at the United Nations today, Trump had this grim reality thrown back into his face.