Donald Trump And Ventriloquist's Dummy Appear On '60 Minutes'
We don't always steal jokes from our son, but Kid Zoom had an excellent observation on Sunday's awkward fuck-tussle of an interview with Donald Trump and Mike Pence on CBS's "60 Minutes." As the younger Zoom said, watching this interview really makes you realize how well that logo they dropped summed up the power dynamic between Trump and Pence. There's no question here who's the top and who's the bottom. Donald Trump is constantly butting in, answering questions for Pence, talking over him -- it almost looks like they barely know each other, and they certainly didn't prepare for any of the even moderately tough questions (not that tough at all, really) Leslie Stahl lobbed gently at them.
For instance, right off the bat, Stahl asked Trump what exactly he had in mind when he said after the terrorist truck attack in Nice, France, last week when he said he'd "declare war" on ISIS:
"When you say, 'Declare war,' do you want to send American troops in there? Is that what you mean?"
It's really rather impressive how slippery Trump is, almost as if he exuded a layer of protective slime like a hagfish:
Trump: Look, we have people that hate us. We have people that want to wipe us out. We're gonna declare war against ISIS. We have to wipe out ISIS. These are people that --
Stahl: With troops on the ground?
Trump: I am going to have very few troops on the ground. We're going to have unbelievable intelligence, which we need; which, right now, we don't have. We don't have the people over there. We are going to use--
Stahl: You want to send Americans--
Trump: Excuse me -- and we're going to have surrounding states and, very importantly, get NATO involved because we support NATO far more than we should, frankly, because you have a lot of countries that aren't doing what they're supposed to be doing. And we have to wipe out ISIS. And speaking of Turkey, Turkey is an ally. Turkey can do it by themselves. But they have to be incentivized. For whatever reason, they're not. So we have no choice.
Stahl: But I still don't know if you're going to send troops over--
And so on. Lots of Turks, lots of NATOs, lots of coalition. But what about sending American troops? The closest Trump got to specifics was "Very little," which seems a tad unspecific. Stahl tried seven variations on asking "does declaring war mean committing American troops?" and apart from "Very little," Trump dodged every single one. Then it was Mike Pence's turn to shine:
This is -- this is the kind -- this is the kind of leadership that America needs and it -- and it begins with deciding to destroy the enemies of our freedom.
Or the kind of leadership we might deserve, maybe. Pence was nonetheless very confident that when Donald Trump gives the orders -- should he actually formulate any -- the mighty American military will crush our enemies. Without necessarily troops on the ground. Or maybe lots of them. Keep the enemy and the American people guessing.
That naturally enough led Stahl to ask Trump about how his alleged (and largely fictional) opposition to the Iraq war might have affected his thinking about Pence. After all, Trump constantly condemns Hillary Clinton's terrible judgment in having voted to authorize the war, so certainly Pence's vote to authorize the Iraq war must have come up during the vetting process? When Stahl pointed out "Your running mate voted for it," Trump replied decisively:
Trump: I don't care.
Stahl: What do you mean you don't care that he voted for?
Trump: It's a long time ago. And he voted that way and they were also misled. A lot of information was given to people.
Stahl: But you've harped on this.
Trump: But I was against the war in Iraq from the beginning.
Like every TV interviewer on the planet, Stahl passed over the chance to point out that's not exactly true, and pointed out the seeming contradiction: "Yeah, but you've used that vote of Hillary's that was the same as Governor Pence as the example of her bad judgment." Trump remained blissfully unbothered, because duh, Mike Pence is his running mate, and Hillary Clinton is his enemy:
Trump: He's entitled to make a mistake every once in a while.
Stahl: But she's not? OK, come on--
Trump: But she's not--
Stahl: She's not?
Trump: No. She's not.
Stahl: Got it.
Whatever. No big whoop, you know? Then it was on to why Trump picked Pence, and Mike Pence got to sit there while Trump freely acknowledged he'd gone with Pence for the sake of "party unity," and -- almost incidentally -- because Pence has ben a terrific governor, just terrific. But sure, mostly Trump picked Pence to shut up the establishment whiners, no insult intended, Mike: “It was party unity. I’m an outsider [...] People I wasn’t necessarily getting along with are loving this pick,” Trump said, while Pence sat there and smiled.
Hey, how about that whole situation with John McCain? Should Trump apologize for saying he prefers people who weren't captured? Pence started saying that he has "a great deal of respect for John McCain --" and when Stahl asked Pence the inevitable follow-up about whether he thought Trump had "gone too far," Pence didn't even get a chance to answer. Instead, Trump gave him permission to say yes. If he wanted to:
You could say yes. I -- that's OK. That one, you could say yes, I mean, you're not -- it's fine -- hey, look, I like John McCain. But we have to take care of our vets.
After several exchanges between Stahl and Trump, Pence finally said he'd "have no hesitation" to march right in and speak his mind to President Trump. Assuming he could get a word in edgewise.
And then there was the Muslim immigration ban, which Mike Pence famously tweeted last December was "offensive and unconstitutional." When Stahl asked about it in the joint interview, Pence was suddenly eager to show how much he wanted to keep Muslims out, too:
In fact, in Indiana we suspended the Syrian refugee program in the wake of the terrorist attack. We have no higher priority than the safety and security of the people of this country, and Donald Trump is right to articulate that view.
But about that tweet? Again, Trump didn't even let Pence answer the question, because it's no longer a ban on all Muslims, it's a ban on immigration from some territories, got it? The great thing about Trump is how he says that like, duh, it was never a ban on all Muslims. Where did you get that idea? Again, you'd think they might have anticipated this would come up. Pence never got to say a word about that tweet, which was of course the point.
It was quite a show. We got a terrific sense for just how well Donald Trump will run the campaign, and how he and Mike Pence will work together: As a team, where Donald Trump makes all the decisions and does all the talking.
It's important to know your place.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.