Trump’s fondness for foreign strongmen is well-documented, with a special place in his heart seemingly reserved for Vladimir Putin. His admiration for authoritarians doesn’t end with the Russian potentate though, and in the past, he has even voiced admiration for President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, a man who has sanctioned the extralegal executions of his own citizens by death squads, joked about committing rape, and claimed to have personally murdered someone.
President Obama had his differences with Duterte beyond the obvious moral ones. Obama canceled a planned meeting with the Filipino President after Duterte called him a “son of a b*tch.” He’s a crude, boorish man, so it makes sense that he would get along so well with Trump. For his part, the current president is proud of his relationship with the murderous Duterte and has taken to bragging about it.
“And as you know, we were having a lot of problems with the Philippines. The relationship with the past administration was horrible, to use a nice word,” Trump told reporters during his recent trip to the Philippines, reports The Hill.
“I would say ‘horrible’ is putting it mildly. You know what happened. Many of you were there, and you never got to land. The plane came close but it didn’t land,” Trump said.
Presumably, Trump was referencing the meeting that President Obama canceled after Duterte’s insulting comments, but Obama did visit the Philippines multiple times earlier in his term. Trump deliberately misrepresented events to make it sound like Obama’s Air Force One never set down in the Philippines, impugning Obama’s diplomatic legacy for the tawdry purpose of propping himself up as some kind of master statesman.
Trump’s misleading comments are nothing more than a pathetic attempt to distract attention away from the fact that his Asia trip was a complete bust. He failed to forge the bilateral trade deals he promised and was exposed for begging Vietnam to buy more American military equipment so he could claim it as a victory in the hopes of boosting his approval ratings. They declined, and Trump flew home in defeat. Not only is he a terrible liar, he’s a terrible dealmaker.