The one thing President Trump knows about Panama is there’s a canal in it
President Trump welcomed Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela to the White House Monday, and during a photo op in the Oval, referenced the one thing he was sure he knew about the country: That there’s a canal there.
“It’s our great honor to have President and Mrs. Varela from Panama,” President Trump told reporters. “We have many things to discuss. We’re going to spend quite a bit of time today. The Panama Canal is doing quite well, I think we did a good job building it. Right?”
This would be like hosting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and saying “how about those Pyramids?” While it’s tempting to think that the canal was just the first thing that popped into Trump’s head when he heard “Panama,” truth is, that waterway — and the “good job” America did building it — has long been an obsession of the president’s. In 2010, Trump criticized the U.S. for handing control of the canal back over to Panama after they’d operated it jointly for decades.
“We gave it to Panama,” Trump said. “We didn’t say, here, take us, pay us $100 billion over a 10-year period or 50-year period. Who are these people that are making these decisions? So, we have very bad decision-makers in this country. And this country didn’t get great by having decisions like that made.”
At the time, Trump had around $400 million invested in a real estate project in the country, and when Panama City councillors voted unanimously to declare him “persona non grata,” he offered a rare apology.
“If I were from Panama, I’d try and make the same kind of a deal, I respect that,” Trump said. “I paid Panama a great compliment.”
Yeah, okay. At least he didn’t bring up the Van Halen song.
[screen shot: MSNBC]