WASHINGTON — When President Trump autographed Bibles while visiting an Alabama church last week, some reacted with dismay.
They shouldn't have. There is nothing more natural than Trump putting his name in the Bible. The man is a prophet!
With the assurance of Jeremiah, the clairvoyance of a seer and the prolificacy of a bookie, Trump has peered into his crystal ball and foretold visions of all description: He would have a "tremendous summit" in Hanoi with North Korea's Kim Jong Un. House and Senate negotiators would not agree on border spending. Republicans would win the midterms in a "giant red wave." Stocks would crash and violence would ensue if Democrats won. His Helsinki meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin would produce "big results." The economy would grow at more than 5 percent. Guam's tourism would increase tenfold. And on and on.
What is preternaturally eerie about these prophesies is that, in every single case, Trump was wrong. Naysayers (not to mention soothsayers) might call Trump's prophetic record pathetic.
But to be this wrong this often is a gift. It takes more than mere skill to be so unerringly errant. It is as though the president has the ability to look into the future and then, with uncanny accuracy, predict the opposite.
In June, he boldly predicted that North Korea's main missile-launching site "is going to be destroyed very soon." Monitoring groups last week reported that Pyongyang is instead expanding the site at an accelerated pace.
In July, Trump predicted that economic growth in the second quarter of 4.1 percent "is just a steppingstone" to higher third-quarter growth and ultimately "eight or nine" percent annual growth — as the trade deficit would be cut "in half" and debt would be paid off "like water."
But, instead, growth has slowed. Last week, the government reported that the 2018 trade deficit hit a record high. And the White House budget, released Monday, forecasts budget deficits of more than $1 trillion for the next four years.
The vast wrongness of Trump's forecasts is equaled only by his confidence in their correctness. Perhaps this is because he predicted his victory in 2016 and the polls didn't. Perhaps this is because he revises his predictions in hindsight.
Consider Trump's prediction of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. People "are saying, 'You know, Trump predicted Osama bin Laden,' which actually is true," he has said. Actually, it is not true.
Likewise, Trump said that when visiting his golf course in Scotland "the day before Brexit ... I think you will agree that I said I think Brexit will happen." We will agree his comments came after the Brexit vote.
Trump alluded to his tendency to revise predictions when he said that if he were wrong in predicting North Korea would dismantle its missile site, "I don't know that I'll ever admit that, but I'll find some kind of an excuse."
On occasion, the cosmic forces of the universe are disturbed and Trump's forecasts prove correct, including his prediction that the Patriots would win the Super Bowl. His prediction that he will "never" win the Nobel Peace Prize also seems a safe bet (but not a certainty, because he also predicts he has a "good shot" at solving Middle East peace).
Trump has also guaranteed success at times by predicting opposite outcomes for the same events: both "pain" and a "very good chance" of a trade deal with China, both "escalation" and diplomacy with Iran, both exoneration and harassment by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III: "We'll see what happens."
History already looks unkindly on Trump's predictions that Marine Le Pen would surge in the French election, that Obamacare would be quickly repealed, that North Korea wouldn't obtain a missile capable of reaching the United States, that he would pay more in taxes after his tax cut, that the Manchester Union Leader would go out of business by the end of 2017, that John F. Kelly would be "one of the great ever" chiefs of staff and that Jeff Flake would "go to work for CNN." (Close! The former senator from Arizona chose CBS.)
But there is no denying Trump one distinction: He predicted himself.
Britain's Guardian newspaper dubbed him "Trumpadamus" for prescient tweets before he came into office saying "the world is laughing at us" and the president makes Putin "look like the genius of all geniuses."
Similarly, he retweeted a 2013 message saying "our president has ruined our country," adding, "not totally, yet!" And he tweeted, in 2014, a cartoon of the Framers saying "I think we should include something in the Constitution in case the people elect a f — ing moron."
Trump wasn't wrong. He was prophetic.