U.S. President Donald Trump has lurched from one viral moment to another since he entered the White House, but 2019 was perhaps his most
tremendous bizarre year to date, as the Russia investigation and the impeachment inquiry prodded him to new and often shocking outbursts.
Choosing the best viral Trump moments of the year is like trying to conduct a witch hunt at a Halloween party: there are just so many examples available, and new ones are showing up almost daily.
Leaving aside the politically polarized battles in Washington, these are the Trump-related moments that got people talking in 2019:
Trump changes hurricane Dorian’s path with a Sharpie
With a deadly hurricane bearing down on the east coast of the United States, Trump spent the better part of two weeks defending one of his tweets that incorrectly predicted the storm might hit Alabama.
The whole bizarre fiasco culminated with a viral photo op in the Oval Office on Sept. 4, when Trump showed off a weather map that had been doctored with a Sharpie to extend the storm’s path over Alabama.
Trump’s reality-bending map touched off a flurry of mockery online, where many people shared their own Trump-inspired, marker-altered scenes under the hashtag #Sharpiegate.
The president later forced his weather service to put out a statement backing his incorrect tweet.
The storm never hit Alabama.
“It’s okay to be wrong sometimes, y’all,” Twitter user @rebelkellll wrote at the time. “Don’t be like this man.”
Melania Trump’s sultry look at Justin Trudeau
A picture is worth a thousand words — although those words don’t always reflect the truth.
That was the case with a viral photo captured at the G7 summit this summer, which appeared to show first lady Melania Trump giving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the “bedroom eyes” after a quick cheek kiss. The president can be seen looking the other way in the background of the photo.
It was one of dozens of fleeting onstage kisses at the G7 in France, where various politicians and their spouses were exchanging pleasantries during a photo op. However, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment touched off wild speculation on Twitter, particularly among Trudeau fans and Trump critics.
“Looks like Justin Trudeau found Melania’s G7-spot,” one popular tweet read. It included the hashtag “#MelaniaLovesTrudeau.”
“It looks like they are all laughing at Trump while Melania kisses Trudeau behind his back,” another Twitter user wrote.
Trump as Rocky Balboa
Trump’s Twitter account is an inflammatory but largely predictable stream of complaints, attacks, boasts and retweets from his supporters. That’s why it’s so unusual when he shares something that riffs on pop culture, such as when he tweeted a photo of himself Photoshopped onto Rocky Balboa’s body.
The original image was taken from Rocky III, with Trump’s head edited over top of Sylvester Stallone’s. Trump did not write any text to go with the image, and he still hasn’t explained it.
Nevertheless, it got people talking.
“The delusion runs very deep,” one user tweeted in response to the photo.
“Delusion vs. Reality,” wrote another user, with side-by-side images of the doctored photo and an image of Trump on the golf course.
“True champion!” a Trump supporter wrote. “Only the truly stupid punch President Trump and don’t expect a counterpunch.”
Nickelback forces Trump to delete a Twitter video
The tweet used a clip of Nickelback’s music video for Photograph to introduce an attack ad on Joe Biden, one of Trump’s potential rivals for the presidency.
In the clip, lead singer Chad Kroeger holds up a photograph and the camera zooms in on it. The clip has inspired many memes, and Trump’s team apparently tried to capitalize on the same format for its attack ad.
However, Nickelback appears to have complained to Twitter, and the video was removed due to copyright issues.
The same format has been used to blast Trump over alleged efforts to dig up dirt on Biden in Ukraine.
Trump serves up a ‘hamberder’ feast
Although nothing may live up to Trump’s “covfefe” tweet from 2017, an early 2019 typo came close.
Trump accidentally bragged that he was serving “hamberders” to a college football team at the White House in January, prompting Burger King to mock him on Twitter.
“Due to a large order placed yesterday, we’re all out of hamberders. Just serving hamburgers today,” Burger King tweeted in a nod to Trump’s mistake.
Trump tries to buy Greenland
Trump legitimately thought he could use his real estate experience to buy Greenland — and he was very upset when people laughed at him over it.
The president blasted Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in August after she rejected the notion as “absurd.”
“It was made in a nasty, sarcastic tone,” Trump told White House reporters after cancelling a planned visit to Denmark.
“She said ‘absurd,’ that’s not the right word to use.”
One could argue that notion, especially after Trump tweeted an image of a fake Trump tower in Greenland.
Trump’s bizarre plan to buy Greenland proved fruitless, although it inspired plenty of jokes.
‘BeBest’ and stop bullying, unless you’re Trump
Melania Trump has spent much of her time as first lady promoting “#BeBest,” her anti-bullying campaign. However, that campaign has obviously failed to reach her husband, who spent much of 2019 attacking his political foes at rallies and on Twitter.
“BeBest” had arguably its worst moment at the tail end of the year when the president mocked 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg after she beat him for Time’s Person of the Year. It was the second time the president used his platform to attack his child foe, and the second time Melania failed to condemn it.
Many Twitter users mocked Melania for failing to get her message through to the president, especially after she loudly defended her only child from criticism a few days earlier.
“A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics,” Melania tweeted on Dec. 4 in response to comments about her son, Barron.
Melania later drew a distinction between Thunberg and Barron, saying that her son “is not an activist who travels the globe giving speeches. He is a 13-year-old who wants and deserves privacy.”
The incident came just a few days after children booed Melania Trump at a “BeBest” event in Baltimore, a city her husband once described as a “rodent-infested mess.”
“So much for #BeBest,” one Twitter user wrote. “Hey Melania … how about you be better and stop defending bullying.”
Trump more victimized than Jesus, Pearl Harbor or Salem witch hunt victims
Trump has built his presidency on playing the victim who bravely punches back at all sorts of real and imagined threats, including the “fake media,” the “elites,” the “Dems,” the “deep state,” Robert Mueller and, most recently, the whistleblower and the impeachment inquiry. He’s spent the last year shouting terms like “Witch Hunt!” and “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!” on Twitter. He also frequently tells his supporters that people are victimizing him in order to victimize them.
But the already over-the-top rhetoric hit new heights on Dec. 18, when Trump and his supporters rolled out some truly wild comparisons to paint the president as the most victimized person in history.
On the eve of his impeachment, Trump released a six-page letter in which he claimed: “More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.”
That’s objectively not true, because Trump hasn’t been drowned in the ocean, force-fed urine cake or pricked with needles.
Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll seemed to roll her eyes at Trump’s claim, tweeting that the innocent and powerless Salem victims were “hanged or pressed to death” in the absence of evidence.
Then, the following day, Trump’s allies in the House unveiled some truly astounding comparisons that sparked laughter and shock on Twitter.
Republican Rep. Mike Kelly compared Trump’s impeachment to Pearl Harbor, the Second World War attack by the Japanese that left more than 2,400 Americans dead and pulled the United States into the war.
Kelly said the date of Trump’s impeachment would “live in infamy,” just like the date of the Pearl Harbor bombing.
But no lawmaker caused more waves with his speech than Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk, who earnestly suggested Jesus was treated more fairly by the judicial system than Trump.
“When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers,” Loudermilk said. “During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than Democrats have afforded this president in this process.”
Loudermilk’s comparisons between Trump and Jesus did not go over well on Twitter.
“Jesus was crucified to save an undeserving humanity from sin,” tweeted Ken White, the attorney behind the @Popehat Twitter account. “Trump was elected to save people who own Truck Nutz from feeling bad about using the n-word in public.”
Trump as Thanos, Marvel’s mad Titan
Trump’s re-election campaign riled up Twitter in early December with a poorly edited video depicting Trump as Thanos, the ultimate villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The video superimposes Trump’s face over Thanos in the villain’s final moments, just before he realizes his evil plan has fallen apart.
The clip is taken from the end of Avengers: Endgame, just as Thanos tries to magically destroy the universe with a snap of his fingers.
“I am inevitable,” he says.
The clip with Trump shows him snapping his Democratic foes out of existence.
Many were quick to point out that the Avengers clip happens just before Thanos loses to Iron Man.
“You’ve made Trump a supervillain and depicted him in the scene where his plan to kill everyone in the universe falls apart due to his arrogance and incompetence,” tweeted user Kevin M. Kruse.
Jim Starlin, the comic writer who created Thanos, denounced Trump’s use of the character in comments to The Hollywood Reporter.
“After my initial feeling of being violated, seeing that pompous fool using my creation to stroke his infantile ego, it finally struck me that the leader of my country and the free world actually enjoys comparing himself to a mass murderer,” he said.
“How sick is that?” he added. “These are sad times we are going through. Fortunately, all things, even national nightmares, eventually come to an end.”