Analysis

It’s the Season for Giving Thanks—to Trump

A brief list of the things for which the president wants to be thanked.

President Trump applauds after pardoning Drumstick, the National Thanksgiving Turkey, during a ceremony in the Rose Garden on Tuesday.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
George E. Condon Jr.
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George E. Condon Jr.
Nov. 22, 2017, 1 p.m.

Like his predecessors, President Trump spent the days leading up to Thanksgiving chronicling things for which he is thankful. Unlike all other presidents, though, he also spent time complaining that others are not thankful for what he believes he has done for them. Most prominently, he groused that he was not getting enough gratitude for his behind-the-scenes work to spring three shoplifting UCLA basketball players from a Chinese jail.

The UCLA episode and his nasty exchange with LaVar Ball, father of player LiAngelo Ball, was nothing new for this president. In the years before he was elected and the 10 months since he entered the White House, Trump has battled loudly and often angrily for the thanks he thinks he has earned and the credit he craves.

As president, he believes the nation should be thanking him for a record-high stock market, a declining jobless rate, his response to three hurricanes, and progress on the battlefields of the Middle East. In the face of criticism of his handling of the devastation left by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the president blamed “fake news” for denying him credit for “a great job.” The continuing problems on the island, he suggested in a tweet, are “largely of their own making.”

After less than a month in office, he boasted that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had thanked him for his help. “That’s good,” Trump said. “I know the media will never thank me, so at least Japan is thanking me, right?”

This craving for gratitude has given late-night comics fertile ground for jokes. During the campaign, The Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon mocked Trump’s Super Tuesday speech. “Thank me, thank me, thank me very much,” Fallon said in a Trumpian voice. Stephen Colbert of CBS’ The Late Show, played off the UCLA spat. “Imagine Thanksgiving at the Trump house,” Colbert said, slipping into his Trump voice. “Let’s go around the table and all say what we’re thankful to me for—I’ll start.”

Here are 10 of the most memorable times Donald Trump has wanted others to thank him, along with the UCLA spat.

For getting the UCLA players out of Chinese jail:

On Nov. 15, Trump tweeted, “Do you think the three UCLA basketball players will say thank you President Trump?” Later that day, all three players dutifully thanked him. But five days later, LaVar Ball said Trump had not earned his gratitude. “I should have left them in jail,” the president shot back. The elder Ball, he wrote, is “very ungrateful.”

For firing former FBI Director James Comey:

The president was angry that Democrats, who had criticized Comey, did not rally behind his decision to dismiss him in May. It was then that Trump christened the Senate minority leader as “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer.” He added, “When things calm down, they will be thanking me!”

For pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord:

Again, Trump bristled at criticism and insisted that the majority of Americans were grateful to him. In a July 1 speech, he said, “And when I go around, there are so many people that say, ‘Thank you. You saved the sovereignty of our country.’”

For putting his name in big letters on a building in Chicago:

In 2014, Trump tangled with Mayor Rahm Emanuel over his branding a new Trump building in Chicago with a 140-foot, two-story T-R-U-M-P” sign. To educate his critics, he wrote then that “my name is known and respected worldwide. It is a brand that brings prominence to Chicago.…” He added, “Perhaps the mayor will thank me someday!”

For writing The Art of the Deal:

In a 2012 tweet, Trump boasted 25 years after he published The Art of the Deal that “the book has changed a lot of lives.” He noted, “It’s amazing how many people still come up to me to thank me” for the book.

For improving the economy—even before he took office:

On Dec. 27 last year, three weeks before his Inauguration, the president-elect tweeted that the Consumer Confidence Index for that month had surged to “THE HIGHEST LEVEL IN MORE THAN 15 YEARS!” He added, “Thanks Donald!”

For building two golf courses in Scotland:

Trump felt unappreciated during the campaign when he was criticized in Scotland for proposing a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States. He was angry when Scottish officials stripped him of his title as a Scottish “business ambassador” and revoked an honorary degree he had been given by a local university. “The UK politicians should be thanking me instead of pandering to political correctness,” he tweeted.

For allowing the Brits to have their own version of The Apprentice:

In 2012, Trump got into a nasty Twitter spat with Lord Alan Sugar, host of the British version of Trump’s The Apprentice. The fight was triggered by Trump’s anger that Scotland might mar his golf course’s view with windmills, which Sugar supported. “The Scottish don’t want you,” Sugar tweeted. Trump shot back, “Without my show you’d be nothing!” He added, “Drop to your knees, Sugar, and say thank you, Mr. Trump.”

For warning Robert Pattinson to dump girlfriend Kristen Stewart:

Perhaps Trump’s strangest-ever tweet storm was the one he let loose in 2012 when news broke that actress Kristen Stewart had cheated on her boyfriend and Twilight costar Robert Pattinson. After these tweets drew wide public attention, Trump then felt prompted to defensively tweet, “She will cheat again—100 certain—am I ever wrong?” He then concluded his last tweet on the subject telling Pattinson to dump Stewart. “In a couple of years, he will thank me.”

For caring:

In September, quite out of the blue, the president retweeted a 19-year-old Colorado college student who had called him “a winner.” She concluded her tweet, “Thank you Mr. President for actually caring.” Approvingly, Trump topped her tweet, writing, “The world is noticing, thanks!”

For reversing his administration’s decision on elephant-hunt trophies:

Reportedly stung by the initial decision to permit trophies of elephant hunts into the country, Trump reversed course and went back to the Obama administration ban. But he didn’t want to have anyone miss the thanks he was getting. So he retweeted Piers Morgan writing, “BOOM! Thank you, Mr. President” and Greta Van Susteren writing, “Thank you @realDonaldTrump—this is important to so many of us.”

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