Friday, November 01, 2019


He can't be serious, can he?
'Fireside chat on live television': Trump says he wants to read Ukraine call transcript to American people

A defiant President Trump signaled he will not cooperate with the Democratic Party's impeachment proceedings, insisting his telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was "a good call" and that he might read it aloud to Americans so they can see his point.

“This is over a phone call that is a good call,” Trump, sitting behind the Resolute Desk, said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. "At some point, I’m going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television, and I will read the transcript of the call, because people have to hear it. When you read it, it’s a straight call.”
We all know he hasn't read the reconstructed transcript himself, right? It's five pages! Way too long for him to read.

If he has read it, we know he can't judge it objectively. If briefers have tried to single out parts of it in order to explain the case against him, you know his eyes glazed over and he probably just left the room mid-briefing. He's the boss! It's not his job to understand the law! That's what he has lawyers for! To get him out of trouble!

Trump's insistence that the transcript exonerates him may seem like a bluff, but I think he genuinely believes it. Early in his life, he fell under the influence of Norman Vincent Peale, author The Power of Positive Thinking. He isn't just trying to persuade us that this was a "perfect call" -- I'm sure he's persuaded himself. He's Donald Trump! How could the call be less than perfect?

Will the "fireside chat" actually happen? I don't believe this is a serious plan, although it's possible we'll read a Maggie Haberman story in a couple of days that says he's been talking seriously with aides about a fireside chat, and he won't let the idea go, no matter how much they've tried to talk him out of it. But it's more likely that he just likes "Read the transcript" as a slogan, the way he liked "No collusion, no obstruction." He's not bad at branding. "No collusion" worked for him. He's pretty good at the kind of branding that involves mindless repetition of simple phrases. It works on his brain, so it works on his fans' reptile brains as well.

What would a Trump transcript chat be like? Here are a couple of thoughts:

Yes and yes.

Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon also have some ideas.

Breaking into a terrible, (Italian?) Trump impression, Cuomo parodied the president’s rambling speaking style: “And I say, I would like you to do us a favor. You know, a favor, a favor, I didn’t expect anything. Let me go on...”

“What I meant there, when I wrote this book, by the way, I wrote 12 books and they were all great,” Lemon said, matching Cuomo’s horrendous impersonation of Trump with one of his own, while Cuomo cracked up.

“This is where we are right now. It’s crazy,” Lemon said.

“So I said to him, Z, cuz you know I call him that because he loves me, they all hated Obama, they love me,” Cuomo continued as Trump, sending Lemon in a fit of laughter. “And I said, Z, you know, you don’t do much for us, we do a lot for you. But now, you should, you got bad problems there.”
Trump would certainly ad lib a lot of commentary. He's probably give up on the transcript halfway through because he'd find the reading difficult. (Of course he'd refuse to wear his glasses.)

But we shouldn't mock him. If we want him to do this, we should act as if we fear a Trump transcript fireside chat. Prominent Democrats should say: If the president decides on this outrageous course of action, that would be a brazen violation of all accepted norms! I urge the president, in the strongest possible terms, not to make this speech!

It might not work, but it's worth a try.

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