President Trump this week turned his attention from matters of international diplomacy, international trade policy and the remembrance of D-Day to . . . um, Bette Midler.
The commander in chief tweeted in the wee hours of Wednesday (his time — he’s in the United Kingdom) that the “Hello, Dolly!” star was a “washed up psycho” and “a sick scammer” after she apologized for sharing a quote that was incorrectly attributed to Trump. Predictably, the insults set off fans of the award-winning performer, who moonlights as one of Trump’s biggest critics.
Midler had defended her original mistake, writing to her nearly 1.6 million followers that “the task of separating the truth from the lies is impossible. Which is just how he likes it.”
She followed up later on Wednesday by thanking her followers for supporting her in her “personal Battle of the Bulge” against the president. She said she embraced his insult as a badge of honor: “As a newly washed up psycho, I am very grateful for your thoughts and prayers,” she tweeted.
But Midler drew criticism, too, for a previous tweet, since deleted, in which she commented on Trump’s appearance with a different hairstyle. “He actually looks better here!” she wrote. “Maybe someone in his camp can gently give him a shiv. I mean, shove.” (A shiv, of course, is a weapon often used in prisons.) Midler’s feed is typically full of insults leveled at the president.
And just in case anyone thought this back-and-forth wasn’t nutty enough, enter George Conway! The husband of presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, who has emerged as an unlikely critic of the president, jumped in. “Evidence that Trump has serious psychiatric issues, Exhibit 57,296,” he wrote in response to Trump’s insults of Midler. He kept at it, retweeting responses to the attacks on the actress.
Trump, who is in the U.K. this week for a state visit, fired off the criticism of Midler just as he was set to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of Normandy considered among the most crucial Allied victories of World War II.
It’s not the first time Trump has insulted Midler. He tweeted that she “sucked” after her performance at the 2014 Oscars and in 2012 twice tweeted insults about her appearance. “@BetteMidler talks about my hair but I’m not allowed to talk about her ugly face or body --- so I won’t,” he tweeted. “Is this a double standard?”
correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Bette Middler as an Academy Award-winning performer. She has been nominated twice for best actress, but never won. The story has been updated.