Now that that pesky little birther certificate issue is cleared up, Donald Trump wants to talk about the real issues facing out country. "OPEC is laughing at us," Trump told a crowd in New Hampshire. That's been a longtime core issue for Trump--not our dependence on foreign oil, but that everyone is laughing at us.
Trump has made three serious fake bids at the presidency: in 1987, 1999, and 2011. The dominant issues changed a bit each time--and Trump has flip-flopped on a few of them--but his way of thinking about them has not. Everyone is always pointing and laughing at America, in Trump's view. A psychologist might have a field day with this. Is this how we got our dear "carnival barker"? As he waves from his stretch limo window, as he strides across the red carpet, as he takes credit for Obama's birth certificate, does he hear a little voice in the back of his head--maybe it sounds like the mother in Carrie--whispering, "They're all gonna laugh at you"? A look back at some of the instances of ridicule anxiety:
On voter anxiety, to the Miami Herald, September 24, 1987: "There's a large group of people who are tired of seeing the country ripped off and laughed at. It's hard to ignore them. But really, I have no intention of running for president."
On international trade, to the Miami Herald, October 23, 1987: "The Japanese, when they negotiate with us, they have long faces... But when the negotiations are over, it is my belief . . . they laugh like hell."
On defense spending, in full-page ads in three national newspapers, September 3, 1987: "The world is laughing at America's politicians as we protect ships we don't own, carrying oil we don't need, destined for allies who won't help."
On casinos in Atlantic City, according to a September 27, 1989 United Press International report: "Las Vegas casinos, which sent representatives in Atlantic City to solicit bets on the 1988 Tyson-Spinks fight, hosted by Trump, were 'laughing' at New Jersey because they were reaping the benefits of sports betting, which is illegal in the Garden State, he said."
On negotiating with North Korea over nuclear weapons, on Meet the Press, October 24, 1999: " Jimmy Carter, who I really like, he went over there. It was so soft. These people are laughing at us."
On missile defense, on NBC, November 18, 1999: "I believe in something that actually Ronald Reagan believed in, and that's missile defense. ... And, you know, it's interesting with Ronald Reagan. They were laughing at him when he came up with the concept of Star Wars, actually now many years ago. It was a brilliant concept, and he knew something a lot of people didn't know. We really do have now the technology to do it."
On the Iraq war, January 16, 2007: "I have been universally against the war right from the beginning. We have problems. You have Iran doing nuclear weapons. You have North Korea building nuclear weapons and laughing at the United States. We say, are you building weapons? Yes, we are. What are you going to do about it? And we are mired in Iraq. ... This is a terrible situation this country is in and we've got to get out fast. But I'm not just talking about that. I'm talking about trade negotiations, other negotiations. It's a joke. And the world is laughing at us, Larry."
On Obama hosting a state dinner for China, January 24, 2011: "China is not our friend. I mean, this is a group of leaders that are just taking advantage of our leaders. They're smarter; they're sharper. And they're laughing at us all the way to the bank."
On the potential government shutdown, April 7, 2011: "I think he and the group probably will get it done, but it's pretty sad because the whole world is looking at us and laughing at us."
On how to deal with world leaders, April 16, 2011: "The United States has become the laughing stock and the whipping post for the rest of the world, whether we like it or not, and we don't like it, the world is laughing at us. ... I know a lot of people in other countries. I know the top people. I know the wealthy people. They deal with me on a constant basis... They would sit with me at dinners and say 'Donald we can't believe what we're getting away with.'"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.