Column: A one-man Lloyd's of London
WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump makes more guarantees than a used-car salesman. I guarantee you.He guarantees Mexico will pay for the border wall. "I'll get Mexico to pay for it one way or the other. I guarantee you that."He guarantees that his still-...
WASHINGTON - Donald Trump makes more guarantees than a used-car salesman. I guarantee you.
He guarantees Mexico will pay for the border wall. “I’ll get Mexico to pay for it one way or the other. I guarantee you that.”
He guarantees that his still-secret tax returns are the hugest ever. “They’re very big tax returns,” he said after the New Hampshire primary. “I guarantee you this, the biggest ever in the history of what we’re doing. ... But we’ll be releasing them.”
He guarantees that Karl Rove and David Axelrod were more violent with crowds than Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. “I guarantee you they probably did stuff that was more physical than this.”
And, memorably, he guarantees us that his penis isn’t small. “I guarantee you, there’s no problem. I guarantee you.”
The guy is a one-man Lloyd’s of London. But how will he make good on all his assurance policies? Are they money-back guarantees? Full faith and credit guarantees?
Some Trump promises are 100 percent guaranteed. When he tells the president of Ford Motor Co. that the company will be taxed if it builds a factory overseas, “I guarantee you 100 percent he will say, ‘Mr. President, we have decided to build our plant in the United States.’” (Trump at another point guaranteed the time by which Ford would capitulate: “I would say by 4 o’clock in the afternoon ... But I guarantee you, by 5 o’clock the next day.”)
Other guarantees are clearly not 100 percent. “Another plane was blown up, and I can practically guarantee who blew it up,” he said of the EgyptAir crash, even though the cause still hasn’t been officially determined, and no terrorist group has claimed responsibility.
But here’s something you can really take to the bank. Trump’s “guarantees” are like pretty much everything else that comes out of his mouth: The truth is not high on his list of considerations, and he seldom suffers any consequences for the nonsense.
A notable exception came in recent days when The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold - dubbed “a nasty guy” by Trump for his efforts - reported that Trump hadn’t made good on his promise to donate $6 million to veterans’ charities after a January fundraiser. Trump, asked about the $6 million, said, “I didn’t say six.” Good thing he didn’t guarantee that he didn’t say six. Fahrenthold found video of Trump using the $6 million figure twice at the fundraiser itself and for several days after - including one TV appearance in which he repeated the figure four times in six sentences.
On Monday, the day before he came clean on the donations to veterans, Trump spoke at the Rolling Thunder gathering on the Mall. He claimed there were “600,000 people here trying to get in,” but organizers put attendance at 5,000 - and there weren’t long lines.
I can practically guarantee you Trump knew that line would be in this column. At a candidates’ forum in November, Trump noted the full house and said that “the people in the media will not report that, I guarantee, because I know how their minds work.”
Trump guarantees are sometimes technical (“I guarantee you they have substandard parts in nuclear and in airplanes because they get them from China”), sometimes audacious (“I know a way that would absolutely give us guaranteed victory” over the Islamic State) and occasionally quantitative: “I guarantee you” that if he negotiated with Iran, “a deal would be made that’s 100 times better.”
One hundred times better - or your money back!
Many of Trump’s guarantees will never be tested because they occur in alternate realities. After Ted Cruz and John Kasich tried to team up against Trump, the candidate said, “I guarantee you if they had it to do again [they] would have never done it.”
As for Trump’s uncouth antics, he says: “If I acted presidential, I guarantee you this morning I wouldn’t be here” on top.
Diplomacy: “I guarantee you our relationships will be far better than they are right now.”
The tariff on Japanese cars entering the United States: “I guarantee you it’s probably zero.”
The Trans-Pacific Partnership: “Our guys have never even read it. I’ll guarantee you that.”
China and the TPP: “I guarantee you. ... They’re going to come in through the back door at a later date.”
Hillary Clinton’s email server: “I guarantee you one thing: We’re going to be talking about those emails every moment of every day.”
Trump was guaranteed not to honor that last promise. It would have left him no time to make other guarantees.
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.