Former President Donald Trump gestures after speaking Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, at Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Any objective assessment of President Joe Biden’s performance in the aftermath of the Hamas attack on Israel—regardless of your opinion on the Middle East conflict and Biden’s policies in the region—would conclude he has been steady, clear, and focused on policy outcomes.

Whereas Donald Trump’s performance has been peevish, erratic, and focused on himself.

After I wrote about this subject in last Thursday’s newsletter, more information about Trump’s recent comments has come to light, which I believe crystallizes his bizarrely egocentric approach to foreign policy.

But first, here’s what’s leading the Washington Monthly website:

  • Crossing the (Jim) Jordan: As Representative Jim Jordan gets tantalizingly close to the Speaker’s gavel, Digital Editor Matthew Cooper rolls out Jordan’s very long political rap sheet, and explains why more level-headed members of the GOP conference are ready to back him. Click here for the full story.

Last Thursday in the Washington Monthly I noted that Trump’s public griping about Benjamin Netanyahu is just the latest episode in their fraught relationship.

To recap:

During a West Palm Beach rally last Wednesday, just four days after the Hamas attack on Israel, Trump spent five minutes (with several digressions) complaining that Netanyahu bailed on a joint operation to kill Iranian military official Qasem Soleimani, then after Trump went ahead, falsely took the credit.

Considering West Palm Beach has one of the biggest Jewish populations in America, this was not exactly pandering to the audience.

We already knew from the books Trump’s Peace by Barak Ravid and The Divider by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser of other instances when Netanyahu upset Trump: upstaging Trump during a joint appearance; pushing West Bank annexation, which complicated Trump’s push for the Abraham Accords; refusing to knock Biden before the 2020 election; and quickly accepting the 2020 election results.

But the Soleimani story was new.

Now we also know it’s a lie.

On Friday, NBC News reported:

U.S. officials familiar with the planning said Trump’s comments are entirely false. “They were never on board with it,” said a former senior White House official, referring to the Israelis. “They always thought it was a dangerous and destabilizing idea.”

But even though Israel wasn’t part of the military operation, it still apparently helped with the intelligence:

Israeli intelligence helped confirm Soleimani’s location for American intelligence officials, NBC News first reported at the time. The U.S. subsequently killed Soleimani with a drone strike in Baghdad.

Israel was never part of the operation, the U.S. officials involved in the planning said.

After reading that, I soon questioned whether Trump was telling the truth about Netanyahu taking credit for the operation.

It took me about five seconds of Googling to find out.

In fact, on the day Soleimani was killed, Netanyahu said: “President Trump deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully, decisively.”

The exact opposite of what Trump claimed Netanyahu said.

We all know Trump lies. We all know Trump is a narcissist. But take a step back and consider the magnitude of this lie.

This was not an off-hand comment or a minor misunderstanding. This was a five-minute tall tale, full of detail and drama. (You can watch here.)

Trump acted out a scene between himself and one of his generals, discussing what to do after Israel bailed, resulting in his making the call to proceed. When Netanyahu wrongly took credit, Trump claimed to be emotionally wounded. “That didn’t make me feel too good,” he said with a wince. And he declared, “I’ll never forget that Bibi Netanyahu let us down.”

There was absolutely no logical reason to make up such a ludicrous and easily disprovable story about the Israeli prime minister in the midst of the worst outbreak of Middle East violence in 50 years while speaking in one of the most Jewish communities in America.

Unless, you are such a depraved pathological liar and so clinically narcissistic that, no matter have grave the situation, you cannot bear to watch somebody else have the spotlight.

With so much unsettling news surrounding us, one more Trump lie may not register on our radar. But I would argue this particular lie is particularly revealing, as it shows there’s no crisis that Trump won’t try to make about himself.

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Bill Scher is political writer at the Washington Monthly. He is the host of the history podcast When America Worked and the cohost of the bipartisan online show and podcast The DMZ. Follow Bill on Twitter @BillScher.