Becoming president of the United States is one of the most difficult and consequential achievements for any person, in any place, in the entire world. The climb begins invariably against long odds, the process is grueling — for the candidate, his family, and his allies — and the prize is immense. With victory comes an informal title, the most powerful man in the world.

It’s impossible to begin that journey without a measure of faith — in God, sometimes, in your team, sometimes, and in yourself, usually. If you decide to run, there has to be a belief not just that you are up to the challenge of the race and the office, but also that you are the best person available to take up that task. And there is no more enthusiastic congregant in the church of the self than Donald J. Trump.

The hours after the Singapore summit were a festival of apparent double standards and apparent partisan hackery. Progressives who cheered Obama’s promises to talk to dictators and applauded his trip to Cuba now talked gravely of the terrible symbolism of Trump’s handshake with Kim Jong-un. Conservatives who mocked Obama’s “weakness” somehow considered Trump’s summit a diplomatic masterstroke. Twitter filled with pictorial and video mashups of the worst reversals. Tweets from 2016 competed with Tweets from 2018. Hypocrisy abounded.

Or did it?