Donald Trump said in an interview published in The Washington Post Wednesday that he came up with the slogan “Make America Great Again” a day after the 2012 election. This is a plausible story, given his reaction to the election to a second term of Barack Obama.
Trump tweeted at the time that Obama was not the legitimate president:
According to Trump, he was in Trump Tower on November 7, a day after Mitt Romney’s loss, when, as WaPo’s Karen Tumulty writes, he decided “his own moment was at hand.” And he started writing down phrases he could use to frame his campaign.
“Make America Great Again,” popped into his head.
“I said, ‘That is so good.’ I wrote it down,” Trump recalled in an interview. “I went to my lawyers. I have a lot of lawyers in-house. We have many lawyers. I have got guys that handle this stuff. I said, ‘See if you can have this registered and trademarked.’ ”
Trump makes it sound so dramatic. But it is not. CNN did a little digging (better late than never, right?) and found out that in fact, Trump had used the phrase as early as December 2011, an entire year before he says he thought it up. He said at a forum sponsored by Newsmax,
“I must leave all of my options open because, above all else, we must make America great again.”
CNN goes on to relate that the phrase cropped up again in the early days of 2012, months before Trump’s claimed epiphany:
During an appearance on Jan. 2, 2012 on Fox and Friends, Trump was asked what he knew about the ‘Make America Great Again’ Party.
“Well I just heard about it, in fact, I heard about it on your show, and frankly I think it’s a great name ‘Make America Great,’ because that’s what it is all about, making America great.”
It came up again just a day later on Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record” and with Neil Cavuto on Fox Business.
Yet another lie from Donald Trump. Hardly a surprise. But worse than that, Ronald Reagan had used the phrase back in 1980. That Trump would use it is unsurprising because Republicans love to hearken back to Reagan. The only originality here from Trump is that being a businessman, he trademarked the phrase.
Donald Trump is all about showmanship, as we’ve pointed to here before. He cannot open his mouth without talking himself up and he cannot talk himself up without telling lies. #MAGA has to be a big deal because it’s Trump’s and everything of Trump’s is ‘yuge’ and so we see this mythology surrounding it already, even before he takes office.
Like so much else about Donald Trump’s life, however, it is a sham, a fantasy substituted for a much more mundane reality. Because branding and framing mean more to Republicans than actual work, Trump is ready with a new slogan for 2020. In that same interview in The Washington Post he asked, “Are you ready? ‘Keep America Great,’ exclamation point.”
Remember that. He’ll be telling a different story about how he came up with the slogan four years from now.