President Donald Trump, last responder.
First responders are those such as those brave and selfless firefighters and cops who dashed into the burning towers of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Last responders are those such as Trump, who showed up long after the danger had passed, seeking what they could get out of it.
Two days after the attack, Trump briefly appeared at the edge of ground zero and was interviewed by German television. He said that he had dispatched “a lot of men” to join the rescue and recovery effort.
“They’re very brave and what they’re doing is amazing,” he said.
He also said, “Today, they found five people under the rubble alive, which is amazing.”
Neither claim was true. He seems never to have sent people to assist. And the last person found alive in the rubble was a woman rescued the day before.
Trump went on to tell many other lies about 9/11. They included this one during the 2016 campaign about his nonexistent efforts on 9/11.
“I was there, and I watched, and I helped a little bit—but I want to tell you: Those people were amazing,” Trump said. “Clearing the rubble. Trying to find additional lives. You didn't know what was going to come down on all of us.”
He was it again on Monday, at the signing of the bill to extend the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
“I was down there also, but I’m not considering myself a first responder,” Trump said from a temporary stage in the Rose Garden. “But I was down there. I spent a lot of time down there with you.”
He in truth spent almost no time and made no significant contributions, monetary or otherwise. This, during a time in the city when those who did pitch in included an elderly woman who walked up to the checkpoint with a bag of ice, saying it was all she had to offer.
What Trump did do was collect $150,000 for damages to his office tower at 40 Wall Street even though he had said there were none.
But Trump is now the president. A group of actual first responders and their families accepted his invitation to join him on the stage. He made a joke that reminded you that he had not actually watched people jump from the burning towers, as he had claimed.
“I don’t know if this stage will hold it, but if it doesn’t we’re not falling very far,” he said.
Trump got the base-pleasing image he wanted and he was able to imagine that he really had been down at ground zero with them.
Eighteen years later, there he was at the White House, still trying to get what he could for himself out of 9/11.
He is not just a last responder, but the last of the last.
Unless you count those unconscionable mutts who opposed extending the fund.