Cognitive Decline? Trump Mixes Up Autocrats Who Love Him

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Donald Trump blundered the name of one of his international friends during a campaign speech on Monday, mispronouncing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s name as “Viktor Orbán”—prime minister of Hungary.

The gaffe underscored a worrying detail about the 2024 GOP presidential candidate: Clearly, Trump has too many adoring fascists in his Rolodex to keep them straight.

“The whole world is exploding. You know I was very honored—Victor Orbán, did anyone ever hear of him? He’s probably one of the strongest leaders anywhere in the world. Right? He’s the leader of Turkey,” Trump said to a quiet crowd in Derry, New Hampshire.

In some ways, it’s not too hard to confuse the two. Erdoğan and Orbán both lead authoritarian regimes, they both belong to NATO, and they’re both obsessed with the concept of an “illiberal democracy” that doesn’t protect individual rights or freedoms.

Then again, there are some big differences, like the countries they come from. Orbán, who has violated the Geneva Convention and warped his country’s constitution to keep himself in power, was described by the late Senator John McCain as a “neo-fascist dictator.” He’s also curried a certain level of idolatry from the contemporary American right. Meanwhile, Erdoğan has rigged elections, restricted the press, and been described as an “electoral autocrat.” And again, they run completely different countries. You’d think a former president would be able to remember the difference.