WASHINGTON — Oh no, he didn’t.
I believe President Donald Trump when he says “I never called Meghan Markle ‘nasty.’ ” I believe him even though Britain’s Sun newspaper published an interview with Trump the day before in which he referred to the Duchess of Sussex with that very word — and even though the Sun has a recording.
Likewise, I believed Trump when he visited Britain last year and said “I didn’t criticize the prime minister”— even though the Sun also had a recorded interview of him that time, criticizing Prime Minister Theresa May.
And I am fully prepared to believe Trump tomorrow if he says “I never called Sadiq Khan a ‘stone cold loser’ ” — even though Trump, landing in Britain on Monday, called the London mayor just that in a tweet that misspelled Khan’s name and also mocked him for being short.
I believe all this and more because the alternative is unthinkable: that our great nation inflicted on the world a president who is, well, a stone cold loser, boorish and ignorant.
Therefore I plan to do as Trump does: live today as if yesterday never happened. But it’s not enough to imagine away this week’s name-calling. To preserve national dignity, Americans must accept that none of the following ever happened:
Trump did not shove the prime minister of Montenegro and he didn’t declare that he “fell in love” with the dictator of North Korea. He didn’t hang up on the Australian prime minister, nor attack the pope on Twitter. He didn’t use a phony accent to imitate the Indian prime minister, nor make fun of Chinese leaders’ eyewear. He didn’t refer to African nations and Haiti as “shithole countries.”
At no time did Trump confuse the Baltics with the Balkans. Never did he tastelessly comment on the French first lady’s body. He certainly did not invent the country of “Nambia,” nor did he boast about selling Norway a fighter jet that only exists in a computer game. He didn’t mispronounce Nepal as “nipple.”
Under no circumstance did Trump assert that “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea,” nor did he believe North Korea’s dictator over Japan’s prime minister. He most definitely did not land in Israel and announce: “We just got back from the Middle East.” He didn’t skip a visit to a U.S. military cemetery in France because of a little rain. He didn’t accept Vladimir Putin’s word over that of U.S. intelligence, and when told “do not congratulate” Putin on his rigged election victory, he did not congratulate.
He didn’t refer to Brussels as a “hellhole” nor assert that “Belgium is a beautiful city.” And spelling the British prime minister’s name as that of a British porn actress? Never happened.
His administration didn’t confuse Singapore with Indonesia and China with Taiwan, nor misidentify the Australian prime minister, nor misspell “Denmark.” Not once did Trump vow to “promote the possibility of lasting peach” in the Middle East.
Trump simply did not advise the French to dump water on Notre Dame Cathedral from the sky, nor did he claim that Finland avoids fires by “raking” forests. He didn’t fabricate trade figures in talks with the Canadian prime minister. Neither did he falsely accuse South Africa of “large scale killing” of farmers, nor volunteer any thoughts, ever, on “what happened last night in Sweden.”
Trump, furthermore, did not sign the guest book at Israel’s Holocaust memorial with the words “so amazing.” He didn’t pull his name from a Group of Seven communique. He didn’t take a limousine and a golf cart instead of walking with other world leaders at summits. He didn’t struggle with a group handholding exercise in Manila, his knuckles didn’t whiten in the grip of Emmanuel Macron, and Melania Trump did not swat his hand away on the tarmac in Tel Aviv.
Furthermore, Trump did not reveal secret Israeli intelligence to Russia. He didn’t accuse Germany of being “totally controlled by Russia.” He didn’t taunt the French over street protests, attack the idea of NATO, use an all-caps tweet to threaten Iran with annihilation, hail “fantastic” strongmen nor pine for the reign of Moammar Gaddafi.
Fortunately, it has all been a misunderstanding. For if an American president had actually done even a fraction of the above, it would be an indelible national disgrace.
Milbank writes for the Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter, @Milbank.