Photo: AP

This week, many in the political press have commented on Donald Trump’s tendency to lavish praise on strongmen and authoritarians, like Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and even Kim Jong-un. Does Trump admire dictators? Probably. But what if the reason for Trump’s statements of approval is mainly just that he is an obsequious ass-kisser who will praise whatever or whoever is in front of him at a given moment?

Praising people he once considered enemies is a pattern with our president, but so is praising perfect strangers, praising brutal dictators, and praising people with whom he is meant to have more neutral interactions.

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It is quite possible that, should the president ever meet you, he will praise you as well.

Why so much praise all the time? That he is a bone deep ass-kisser is one possible theory to explain all the praise. A list to support the theory:

  1. Donald Trump would be “honored” to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, a man he previously called a “maniac.” 
  2. Donald Trump used a perfunctory phone call with Rodrigo Duterte, the authoritarian president of the Philippines who campaigned on the mass slaughter of people suspected of drug offenses, as an opportunity to invite him over to the White House, surprising even his aides.
  3. Donald Trump spent years spreading a racist lie about Barack Obama but then met him in person and now “really” likes the former president. (He has since felt slighted by Obama’s lack of interest in him.)
  4. Donald Trump repeatedly called The New York Times a “failing” publication and then got in a room with its writers and editors and called it “a great, great American jewel, world jewel.”
  5. Donald Trump spent the entirety of his presidential campaign accusing China of currency manipulation and promising a trade war, then met President Xi Jinping, praised him as a “very good man,” got his granddaughter to sing him a song, and abandoned the threat.
  6. Donald Trump has repeatedly sworn off Fox News for treating him “unfairly,” but can never follow through on the boycott. Instead, he heaps praise on the network and its hosts.
  7. Donald Trump called Megyn Kelly “crazy,” “sick,” and “highly overrated”—until he met her face-to-face in April of last year and called her “very, very nice.” Then he sat with her for a very friendly interview and told People magazine she has “unlimited potential.”
  8. Donald Trump has called House Speaker Paul Ryan “very weak,” “ineffective,” and “disloyal,” but then he won the presidential election and started praising him as “like a fine wine” whose “genius” he appreciates “more and more.”
  9. Donald Trump spent a lot of time during his campaign calling the Republican National Committee “weak” and “terrible,” then hired its former chairman Reince Priebus as his chief of staff.
  10. Donald Trump will say nice things about you if you say nice things about him.