I CAN’T get that Donald Trump press conference out of my head. It was horribly compelling or compellingly horrible, like a motorway accident where you feel obliged to look while worrying about the casualties.
Trump held these affairs all the time until five months ago, when his thin skin got the better of him – because “we were getting quite a bit of inaccurate news”.
Even viewed via the safety of the television screen, a Trump press conference is an extraordinary event, a little like that old improv comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway. Trump makes stuff up with insane, self-glorying gusto, firing off insults and crazy ideas while prowling about like a villain in a Batman movie – and even his familiar name of ‘The Donald’ sounds like a comic baddie. Can the Caped Crusader end The Donald’s presidency with a kapow? Sadly not.
Perhaps Trump improv show should really be called Whose Lie Is It Anyway. Maybe this grisly genre needs the coining of a new word: Trump-prov: making up a presidency as you go along.
The weird thing is that Trump was meant to be good at all this stuff, the reality TV president who could ride the media wave with ease. Instead he fell off and kicked about in the surf and had a tantrum, lashing out at “shameful” news and the “disgraceful” behaviour of the intelligence agencies. He complained, again, about fake news – surely the worst case of the biter bit in modern American memory. Trump was the prime peddler of the fake story that Barack Obama wasn’t an American; he was happy to spin that lie for all it was worth. And now he wants to act offended.
Trump had gathered the world’s press together to show how he would avoid any conflict of interest between Trump Inc and his public duties. He even got his lawyer to ‘prove’ this by dumping a pile of files that he said represented assets that were being separated from him. And handed to his sons.
This, again, is not what normally happens and falls far short of fully divesting his financial assets or putting them in a blind trust, which is what presidents usually do.
The press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower really fell apart because of overnight reports that the FBI had been handed unverified claims of Trump’s alleged sexual impropriety in a Moscow hotel room.
All that may well not be true at all, but the potential for embarrassment with the next president seems huge. But never mind. Trump has the answer to everyone who worries that Russia might have influenced his election victory and other Russian angles on American life.
It’s all fine because he and Russian president Vladimir Putin are best buddies. “If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks? That’s called an asset, not a liability.”
With Trump, it’s always all about Trump. And in a week this vainglorious rant merchant will be president of the US. How scary is that?
And how different to Barack Obama’s graceful and moving farewell in Chicago earlier in the week. History can argue over how successful Obama’s presidency was; and history will also see how much Trump wrecks that legacy. But one thing, sadly, is unarguable: Donald Trump is going to be a very different sort of president.