Bills

Trump: I pass a lot of bills. Also, the Democrats won’t let me pass bills.

Despite Trump’s claims, several presidents have signed more legislation than he has at this point in their terms. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

See if you can spot the contradiction in these two tweets President Trump posted Friday morning.

Eight Democrats control the Senate, he warns, meaning that the Republican majority must end the filibuster to pass legislation.

Eleven minutes later, a different story: In seven months, Trump’s seen unprecedented success, including … passing a lot of legislation.

This is not the first time Trump’s tried to have it both ways on legislation.

On July 11, this tweet:

And on July 17: “We’ve signed more bills — and I’m talking about through the legislature — than any president, ever,” he said.

Those can’t both be true, by definition. You can’t pass “more bills … than any president ever” if there are “no votes” on the bills.

This is in part a byproduct of one of Trump’s best-known personality traits, his tendency toward hyperbole. Nothing that’s good is anything less than great and beautiful in Trump’s eyes; nothing that’s bad is anything more than terrible or the worst. There’s no average day in the Trump presidency, just days jostling each other at the very top and very bottom of the spectrum. (Or, really, just at the very top.) And so it is not the case that Trump is in the middle of the pack in terms of legislation passed, he’s the best.

It’s also a byproduct of another of Trump’s well-known characteristics: Nothing is his fault. He did once tell the nation that he alone could fix what was broken in Washington, that what was needed was a dealmaker, who could come in, crack skulls and get a negotiated resolution. But making deals in Congress isn’t like making deals in Trump Tower. There are no one-on-one negotiations, just 52-on-1 negotiations with the Republican caucus in the Senate, with 52 people who represent diverging constituencies and interests. Whether Trump’s dealmaking skills weren’t overhyped, it’s clear that he’s met his match in Congress.

Remember: The most spectacular failure by the Republicans so far this year was on the health-care bill that only needed 50 votes. Trump’s signed no major legislation into law, and the one bill that would have met that definition failed independently of any need to overhaul the filibuster.

That’s not the story that Trump wants to tell. He wants to blame the failure on the Democrats — and, secondarily, on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who’s earned his own disapproving tweets from Trump in recent weeks. Whatever happened that was bad, Trump would like us to know, it certainly wasn’t the fault of Donald J. Trump.

So we end up with weird moments like Friday morning, a president who is both bragging about his unprecedented success and lamenting the unprecedented obstruction that’s preventing him from doing his job.

As Cornell Law professor Josh Chafetz noted on Twitter, neither of those claims is true. He’s signed more bills than some presidents and less than others. The filibuster makes consensus-building trickier, but rifts within his own party in both the House and the Senate are the bigger initial stumbling block.

But, again, most of America by now takes this in stride. We know Trump exaggerates and lies and misrepresents; we know that his hyperbole is just that. We know that the president wants to be hailed as the best and to have all of his failures blamed on someone else. For better or worse, we’ve come to terms with it.

Just as we’ve come to terms with Trump’s now-expected early morning tweets containing internal contradictions. One more day in the world of 2017.