In speech after speech, interview after interview and tweet after tweet, the Republican party's leading presidential candidate can't say it enough: "The world is laughing at us."
Donald J. Trump has issued that warning in some form at least 103 times, going as far back as 1987, according to a Washington Post review of his public statements. Lately, it tends to come with a follow-up promise: Elect him and the giggling will stop.
The Post's review of Trump's statements is far from comprehensive; many are from his Twitter account, and the majority were made in the more easily searchable past five years. Partial though the analysis may be, Trump's frequent caution that the world is laughing at us reveals something about his worldview, if not his psyche: A once-exceptional America has transformed into the butt of a global joke, Trump believes, and its reputation must be restored.
It's hard to say how long Trump has sounded the alarm on America's ridicule. (Go ahead, try searching for some combination of "Donald Trump" and "laughing.") But it's fair to say it has been a key concern for the billionaire businessman for at least three decades.
In the fall of 1987, Trump even took out full-page advertisements in The Washington Post, the New York Times and the Boston Globe to argue that the United States should charge Japan for help protecting its oil tankers passing through the Persian Gulf.
This is how Trump ended the advertisement, which was presented as an open letter:
The letter — developed by the team that created the ads for President Ronald Reagan's 1984 reelection campaign — twice notes the tittering directed at America.
"The world is laughing at America's politicians as we protect ships we don't own, carrying oil we don't need, destined for allies who won't help," Trump wrote at the time.
He returned to that point in his final sentence, too: "Let's not let our great country be laughed at anymore."
Since then, Trump has repeated his concern — that this great nation has become a global laughingstock — dozens of times, in numerous forums.
What follows is an abbreviated list of what Trump has said on the issue — and who he believes is laughing at us.
'The Communist Chinese are laughing their heads off.'
Of the more than 100 perceived instances of foreigners chuckling at America, China came up far more than any other country or group. "The world," or some variant of that, ranked second, while OPEC came next. Combinations of actors — like China and OPEC, or China, Japan and India — ranked fourth, followed by Mexico, Iran and Russia (and its apparently laughter-prone leader, Vladimir Putin) in fifth place.
"I know many of the people in China, I know many of the big business people, and they're laughing at us," Trump said on Fox News in 2010. "They think we're so stupid."
A year later, he attacked China again in a YouTube video titled "China is laughing..."
Three years later, he posted a similar video to Instagram with the same three words as comment.
Wow, China exports rise 15% in September. They are laughing at USA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2014
In 2011, Trump also published "Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again."
In it, he cited China more than once for snickering at America.
And, in a 2014 speech at the National Press Club in Washington, Trump again accused the Chinese of giggling at America behind its back.
"They're taking our jobs and we don't even know it," Trump said. "Then, the president of China comes over and we have a state dinner for him, honoring him — what a wonderful guy.
"And he's laughing all the way back to China."
'The world is laughing at us. We're like a bunch of patsies.'
While Trump has mentioned China most often, he also frequently says the world is giggling at America, which he repeatedly describes as a global "laughingstock."
In a 2012 speech at Liberty University, Trump put it simply and bluntly: "The world is laughing at us."
He added: "We're like a bunch of patsies."
While he often issues such statements without placing blame, Trump has also frequently credits President Obama for damaging the strength of the nation's reputation.
Obama, Trump has suggested, is the joke-writer-in-chief, and there's nothing funny about it.
THE ROLLOUT OF OBAMACARE IS A TOTAL DISASTER AND AN EMBARRASSMENT TO OUR COUNTRY. THE WORLD IS WATCHING AND LAUGHING.$635,000,000 WEBSITE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 19, 2013
We should immediately stop sending our beautiful American tax dollars to countries that hate us and laugh at our President’s stupidity!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2014
OPEC is 'laughing at how stupid we are'
Trump doesn't just see other countries laughing at America.
In his eyes, even the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries chortles at us behind closed doors.
Gas prices are soaring. $4.12 in CA. OPEC is laughing at how stupid we are.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2012
"They're sitting around their table just setting the price of oil and laughing at us because we have no leadership," he said in a 2012 interview on CNBC.
"China is raping this country," he said in a 2011 speech. "OPEC is laughing at us."
'After Syria, our enemies are laughing!'
Suffice to say, Trump sees laughter everywhere. And he hates it.
"Our country is in serious, serious trouble. Whether it's OPEC — the OPEC nations — or China or virtually anybody that we do business with throughout the world, they take advantage of us," he said while backing Republican Mitt Romney for president in 2012. "They laugh at us, they can't believe their good fortunes. I deal with these people."
Obama is now warning North Korea on the Yongbyon nuclear reactor http://t.co/8z0K4ULGuy After Syria, our enemies are laughing!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2013
Indeed, he has issued similar assessments of:
Mexican leadership has been laughing at us for many years but now it’s no longer laughter—it’s disbelief...
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2014
The U.S. has appealed ro Russia not to intervene in Ukraine - Russia tells U.S. they will not become involved, and then laughs loudly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2014
Obama wanted Putin to reset. Instead, Putin laughed at him and reloaded.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2014
The five Taliban leaders released for a deserter must really be laughing and having a good time right now. They are saying how dumb U.S. is!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2014
THE ISLAMIC STATE
The U.S. accidentally air dropped a large shipment of military weapons and supplies right into the middle of ISIS as enemy laughs! Very sad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2014
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2011
"The Persians are great negotiators," he said in a July interview with CNN. "They are laughing at the stupidity of the deal we’re making on nuclear."
THE ARAB LEAGUE
We should not attack Syria but if they make the stupid move to do so, the Arab League,whose members are laughing at us, should pay!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2013
AND SAUDI ARABIA
The Middle Eastern nation's citizens "take such advantage of us with the oil ... and they laugh at this country," Trump told Fox News.
That was in 1999. The laughter hasn't stopped since.