Donald Trump hosted Panama President Juan Carlos Varela and his wife, Lorena Castillo de Varela at the White House on Monday. Naturally, he kicked off his first face-to-face with the Central American leader by bringing up the Panama Canal for no discernible reason whatsoever.
“It’s our great honor to have President and Mrs. Varela from Panama. We have many things to discuss. We’re going to spend quite a bit of time today,” Trump began. And then came the non sequitur: “The Panama Canal is doing quite well, I think we did a good job building it. Right? Very good job.”
“Yeah. One hundred years ago,” President Varela responded with a smile, in what is perhaps the most impeccable Presidential shade we have seen in 2017.
Imagine being so ill-prepared to meet a world leader that what you talk about is the freaking Panama Canal.pic.twitter.com/h7ycSt5obH
— Erick Fernandez (@ErickFernandez) June 19, 2017
The internet obviously had a field day with Trump’s clueless comment, with many pointing out its similarity to his now infamous Frederick Douglass remarks on the first day of Black History Month. You know, the ones that implied Trump thinks Douglass is still alive. (“Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice,” he said at the time.)
The Panama Canal is being recognized more and more, I notice. https://t.co/2BH8lcxY0O
— Elise Foley (@elisefoley) June 19, 2017
I can't believe Donald Trump took credit for the Panama Canal like Frederick Douglass wasn't out there with a shovel every day.
— Alexandra Erin (@alexandraerin) June 19, 2017
Looking forward to seeing how Spicer spins this one. Bonus points if Panama hats make it into the press briefing.