Opinion: Trump’s love-hate relationship with the world is mostly hate

File photo/Tom Brenner/The New York Times / President Donald Trump takes questions from the media before boarding Marine One, bound for a stay at Camp David, at the White House in Washington, June 22, 2019. “Sometimes I miss the good old days when Donald Trump could be shocking,” writes New York Times columnist Gail Collins.

Sometimes I miss the good old days when Donald Trump could be shocking.

It's really hard to imagine something he could say now that would throw us for a loop. You probably heard that on Veterans Day he celebrated the men and women who've fought for American democracy by promising to "root out" his liberal opponents. Otherwise known as "the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country."

Now, would you say he was making a threat — or just trying to show off his vocabulary? Don't know if any other president has called people he disagreed with "vermin." Maybe Warren Harding? Nah, Harding was actually a very nice guy.

And have you noticed that Trump seems obsessed with the threat of communism? Why do you think that is?

A. Serious analysis of political ideologies in the 21st century.

B. Old girlfriend warned him.

C. Probably watched "I Led 3 Lives" while growing up in the 1950s.

I'm gonna go with C, just so I can tell you that "I Led 3 Lives" was a very popular TV show back then, based on the life of Herbert Philbrick, who spent nine years pretending to be an average citizen while working as "a high-level member of the Communist Party and a counterspy for the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

It's also a nice reminder that Trump is almost as old as Joe Biden.

Some of Trump's own plans for future governance really do sound like a terrible cable TV knockoff. For example, he's devised a scenario in which he wins next year, goes back to the White House and then commits some of the top Biden Justice Department officials to ... mental institutions.

Always tough trying to figure out when to denounce our past-and-possibly-future president's rantings and when to just ignore him. Ignoring would certainly bother him more. But there are some things it's hard to overlook.

For example, his campaign recently expanded on the Trump Derangement Sydrome, with a spokesperson warning that when Trump is reelected, people like Jack Smith wouldn't just get committed to a mental hospital: "Their entire existence will be crushed."

Sounds sorta major-league threatening, doesn't it? Well, you'll be happy to know that the spokesperson clarified that he was referring only to Trump's enemies' "sad miserable existence" and not ending "their entire existence."

I hope that makes everything perfectly clear.

But most definitely, Trump is a fan of President Xi Jinping of China. ("There's nobody in Hollywood that can play the role of President Xi — the look, the strength, the voice," he declared in that Veterans Day speech.)

Hmm. Another quickie. Xi's main job is:

A. Marketing a board game called I'll Take Taiwan.

B. TV host of "The Beijing Apprentice."

C. General secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.

Over the past few weeks, we've been seeing a lot of Trump in a New York City courtroom, where he's charged with sort of, uh, making up the estimates of his wealth.

Still to come, the legal proceedings in Georgia, where officials are looking into his efforts to overturn the results of the last presidential election in that state.

And last week, a federal judge rejected Trump's lawyers' argument that the trial for one of his many pending charges — mishandling classified documents at Mar-a-Lago — should be postponed immediately because he has to get ready for other criminal trials coming up in New York and Washington.

What do you say, people? Worst former president ever? Let's just hope it stays that way.