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Donald Trump just released the most Donald Trump statement ever

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 3/29/2022 Philip Bump
Donald Trump plays a round of golf at Trump Turnberry Luxury Collection Resort in Turnberry, Scotland, during his first official visit to Britain as president on July 15, 2018. (Leon Neal/Getty Images/file) © Leon Neal/Getty Images Donald Trump plays a round of golf at Trump Turnberry Luxury Collection Resort in Turnberry, Scotland, during his first official visit to Britain as president on July 15, 2018. (Leon Neal/Getty Images/file)

It’s 8 p.m. on a Monday and there is no reason for me to be sitting at my desk writing about a statement released by a former president that’s completely detached from anything of any significance happening in the world — detached even from any insignificant thing happening in the world. And yet here I am because, after nearly seven years in the public eye, Donald Trump has somehow managed to out-Donald-Trump himself.

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By now, most observers of the former president are familiar with his rhythm, the way he talks, the things he says. You can probably tell a good Trump impression from a bad one because you know Trump intuitively, know it’s about style and attitude more than appearance or even effect. It’s an essence, a type of existence that is regularly copied but rarely matched.

So when I checked my inbox a short while ago and saw a new statement released from Trump’s post-presidential office, I had a vague-if-unarticulated sense of what I might expect.

I did not expect what it said.

I expected the intro: the bespoke logo touting that it came from “The Office of Donald J. Trump” with a simplified version of the presidential seal in the middle. And I expected the title, since it’s always the same title: “Statement by Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America.”

And then poetry.

“Many people are asking, so I’ll give it to you now, it is 100% true,” the message began. “While playing with the legendary golfer, Ernie Els, winner of four Majors and approximately 72 other tournaments throughout the world, Gene Sauers, winner of the Senior U.S. Open, Ken Duke, and Mike Goodes, both excellent tour players, I made a hole-in-one.”

That’s what the message is about. Trump’s hole-in-one.

Even just within these two sentences, there’s an enormous amount at which we might marvel. The fact that he mentions the credentials of those nearby “as if getting a hole in one is somehow even harder if a PGA guy is standing nearby,” as comedian and writer Josh Fruhlinger put it on Twitter. And the slipperiness of those credentials: about 72 tournament wins, a combination of precision and vagueness that I haven’t seen since a book I bought for my kids boasted that it had “more than 13 stickers” inside.

He continued.

“It took place at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, on the 7th hole, which was playing 181-yards into a slight wind,” Trump said — before quickly upgrading the wind he faced. “I hit a 5-iron, which sailed magnificently into a rather strong wind, with approximately 5 feet of cut, whereupon it bounced twice and then went clank, into the hole. These great tour players noticed it before I did because their eyes are slightly better, but on that one hole only, their swings weren’t.”

You can tour the hole online, if you wish. It’s listed as a 191-yard distance, but apparently the hole was located at the front of the green on Trump’s lucky day. (I know very little about golf, as might be apparent.)

If you’ll forgive me for going back for a second, I would like to note the absolutely astonishing assertion with which this message began: the idea that “many people are asking” whether Trump’s fantastic performance actually occurred. I will say that there have been few days in the past few years on which there has been a more consistent subject of conversation in the United States than on this particular day, and the subject being discussed is not how Trump performed in a friendly golf match at one of his own clubs. Yet in the universe where Trump resides — literally one of his own facilities, surrounded by staff and customers — I suspect that L’Affaire Will Smith is a secondary subject indeed.

“Anyway, there’s a lot of chatter about it, quite exciting, and people everywhere seem to be asking for the facts,” Trump’s statement continued. “Playing with that group of wonderful, talented players was a lot of fun. The match was Ernie and me (with no strokes) against Gene, Mike, and Ken. I won’t tell you who won because I am a very modest individual, and you will then say I was bragging—and I don’t like people who brag!”

It seems pretty clear that this last bit is meant to be self-deprecating; of course we all know he likes to brag. But it tilts well past self-deprecation when you’re playing coy about hyping yourself in a public statement about an informal golf game that you send out under the mantle of having once been the leader of the free world.

Trump also shared a video of the hole-in-one — or, to be precise, of his retrieving the ball from the hole to growled appreciation from his foursome. It ends with the group posing by the pin.

It is a well-established fact that Trump’s claims about his golf game are often exaggerated. This may be the real reason that Els et al. were invoked: Surely, they could attest to Trump’s humble effort to set the record straight.

But we must also hasten to note that Trump’s accomplishment is not the most impressive from a major political leader. Kim Jong Il, father of North Korean leader (and Trump associate) Kim Jong Un, is said to have hit 11 holes-in-one during his first-ever round on a golf course.

Similarly averse to bragging, Kim’s accomplishment was nonetheless somehow revealed to the world.

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