During the biggest diplomatic moment of his short presidency, Donald Trump put his foreign relations foot in his mouth.

“There is still much work to be done” about terrorism, Trump said. “That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds,” emphasis ours.

To a casual listener, that doesn’t look like much of a problem — The Donald has made a political career out of bashing Muslims. But here, in a speech described as “more Obama than Bannon,” Trump slipped up on a subtle but sensitive word choice. Islamic refers to the religion practiced by 1.6 billion people worldwide, while Islamist refers to a political ideology, a fundamentalism that wants to replace civic life with religious law.

“Islamist terrorism” suggests that the radicalism comes from the fanatical fringe, which it does. It’s the way you talk about these things when addressing people sensitive to the subject — like, for instance, if you’re a new president addressing the Muslim world in a country hosts the two holiest sites in the religion that you previously said was behind 9/11.

The cause: He’s “just an exhausted guy,” according to a White House official.

It’s not surprising that Trump’s four hours of sleep a night, disavowal of fitness, and preference for steak and ketchup is getting to him. In experiments, participants who are sleep deprived have worse reaction times, act more impulsively, display less emotional intelligence, and learn less. In so many ways, sleep gives you fuel for self-awareness — something that, when you’re a president on a diplomatic mission abroad, you need as much of as possible.

Given his exhaustion, Trump has sent Ivanka in his stead to a summit on social media and extremism. All this from a guy who pegged Jeb Bush as “low energy” and said Hillary Clinton “doesn’t have the stamina” to be president. At least we know how he likes to recharge.

Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com


  • DRAKE BAER is a deputy editor at Business Insider, where he leads a team of 20+ journalists in covering the shifting nature of organizations, wealth, and demographics in the United States. He has been a senior writer at New York Magazine, a contributing writer at Fast Company, and the director of content for a human resources consultancy. A speaker at the Aspen Ideas Festival and other conferences, he circumnavigated the globe before turning 25. Perception is his second book.