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This is his thinking face.


Some really weird stuff out in media land the last few days: Suddenly, several people interviewing Donald Trump have actually taken the time to interrupt his stream-of-gibberish talking points and say, Hey, Donald? You are saying words, but they are not words that answer my question! Think you can give that answer another try, big guy? Not that they ever really got answers, but it was awfully nice to see them put in the effort. It's an encouraging trend that started with last week's Washington Post editorial board, which did its best to nail Trump's jello to a tree. Rarely is the question asked: Is our reporters learning?

Take, for instance, the Very Serious Foreign Policy Interview Sunday in the New York Times. In the transcript of the interview, David Sanger and Maggie Haberman keep trying to corral Trump into a straight answer, although with little success. A good third of their questions are follow-ups; when they ask about Trump's "plan" to get Saudi Arabia to get more involved in fighting ISIS, he instead goes off on a tangent about the price of oil and how Saudi Arabia isn't paying America enough to defend them, and also he was totally right to "oppose" the invasion of Iraq (although of course he never actually said so at the time). But nothing about Saudi ground troops fighting ISIS. Sanger tries to herd Trump around to elaborating on whether he really meant that if the Saudis and United Arab Emirates don't send troops into combat, the U.S. should stop buying their oil. And again, Trump is off on a non-sequi-tear:

There’s two answers to that. The answer is, probably yes, but I would also say this: We are not being reimbursed for our protection of many of the countries that you’ll be talking about, that, including Saudi Arabia. You know, Saudi Arabia, for a period of time, now the oil has gone down, but still the numbers are phenomenal, and the amount of money they have is phenomenal. But we protect countries, and take tremendous monetary hits on protecting countries. That would include Saudi Arabia, but it would include many other countries, as you know. We have, there’s a whole big list of them. We lose, everywhere. We lose monetarily, everywhere. And yet, without us, Saudi Arabia wouldn’t exist for very long. It would be, you know, a catastrophic failure without our protection...

Whatever the "second" part of that answer was, we have no idea, because by the end of the "answer," several hundred words later, Trump was complaining about American debt to China. And he seemed perfectly fine with letting Saudi Arabia collapse, because what could possibly go wrong with that?

Similarly, when they ask about his brilliant idea to maybe pull out of NATO since the organization has outlived its usefulness and depends too much on American funding, Trump can't merely answer the question; he informs us "I said something a few days ago and I was vastly criticized and I notice now this morning, people are saying Donald Trump is a genius. Because what I said -- which of course is always nice to hear." In reality, nobody's calling him a genius. But damned if we don't admire Haberman and Sanger for going all border collie on the Great Prevaricator, constantly nipping at him and trying to get him to please answer the questions they actually asked.

How To Interview Donald Trump

Even better, they call him on his bullshit: when he trots out his usual gripe that the Iran nuclear deal is terrible for America because Iran ordered Airbus planes from Europe instead of Buying American, Sanger politely points out Trump has no idea what he's talking about:

SANGER: Our law prevents us from selling to them, sir.

TRUMP: Uh, excuse me?

SANGER: Our law prevents us from selling any planes or, we still have sanctions in the U.S. that would prevent the U.S. from being able to sell that equipment.

TRUMP: So, how stupid is that? We give them the money, and we now say, “Go buy Airbus instead of Boeing,” right? So how stupid is that?

Dammit, obviously John Kerry should have made Congress change a bunch of laws before negotiating the nuclear deal, that dummy. Similarly, when Trump claims Iran is North Korea's "Number 1 trading partner" with "substantial power" over North Korea, Sanger again calls bullshit on him:

SANGER: Mr. Trump with all due respect, I think it’s China that’s the No. 1 trading partner with North Korea.

TRUMP: I’ve heard that certainly, but I’ve also heard from other sources that it’s Iran.

He hears things, you know. Many things.

In their article about the interview, Sanger and Haberman are perhaps too generous in summing up the workings of Donald Trump's hair-filled cranial cavity:

Mr. Trump explained his thoughts in concrete and easily digestible terms, but they appeared to reflect little consideration for potential consequences.

To put it mildly. And also, it would appear inadvisable to allow Toonces the cat to drive the car.

The other Trump interview that got the Internet in a tizzy Monday was more straightforwardly confrontational, with Milwaukee radio host Charlie Sykes, a conservative AM chat-radio host Trump hadn't bothered Googling. Sykes has been pushing Ted Cruz, although he didn't mention until 13 minutes into the 17-minute interview that he's a "#NeverTrump guy." His sick sad devotion to Senator Punchyface notwithstanding, Sykes treated Trump to a clinic in How Interviewers Won't Stand For Your Nonsense:

After a few pleasantries -- like congratulations on his bangable daughter's brand-new Jewish Easter baby -- Sykes went straight to carving up some Trump Steaks:

"Well, welcome to Wisconsin,” Sykes began. “I know that you realize that here in Wisconsin we value things like civility, decency and actual conservative principles. So let’s possibly make some news.”

Ever the civilized gent, Sykes suggested it would be ever so sweet of Donald Trump if he would make peace with Ted Cruz and his ugly wife Heidi (who might be a hoor), and "start off your Wisconsin campaign by saying that wives should be off limits and that you apologize for mocking her looks.”

Trump wasn't about to accept any responsibility, because of course it's all Ted Cruz's fault:

He totally knew about it, and they sent that out to the people of Salt Lake City, or the people of Utah, and it was, you know, with a very nasty statement on it ... He knew totally about that. If he didn’t know about that it would be a whole different thing, but he totally knew about it. It was done by people that he knows very well.

"It" was a hot picture of his wife, because people hate looking at beautiful women.

Sykes pointed out, correctly, that the ad was actually run by a pro-Cruz superPAC, and said it was not cool to respond with an unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz:

“Is this your standard, that if a supporter of another candidate, not the candidate himself, does something despicable, that it’s OK for you, personally, a candidate for president of the United States, to behave in that same way?” Sykes asked. “I mean, I expect that from a 12-year-old bully on the playground.”

Trump insisted he'd merely retweeted something someone else posted, so he is utterly blameless, and besides, "I didn’t even know it was necessarily a very bad picture of her versus Melania.” Sykes missed the opportunity to suggest Trump needs to have his eyes checked if he really didn't notice the photo made Heidi Cruz look horrible.

Moving right along, Sykes played a clip from that ad with women reading Trump's own words about women, which Trump pretended to be surprised by, since no one's even mentioned it to him at all. Sure, Trump explained, maybe he's said some stuff, but that was back before he was running for president, so can you really hold him responsible for every little time he called a woman a fat pig? Sykes stayed on him, asking whether Trump thought that's how parents should teach their sons to talk about women, and Trump squirted straight past the question again, saying "I thought this was actually a dead issue until I just spoke to you. I’d rather be talking about trade. I’d rather be talking about the things I’m best at." Which apparently doesn't include not saying horrible stuff about women.

And so on -- called out on some completely inaccurate statements he'd made about Wisconsin's economy under Scott Walker, Trump said it wasn't his fault that he was wrong, since he'd gotten his information from Time magazine:

“If Time magazine’s wrong, then they should apologize,” Trump said. “Then I would certainly apologize for reading Time magazine.”

Poor Donald Trump! Why are people always throwing facts at him and saying he's wrong when Time magazine was actually wrong? Since when are presidential candidates required to check facts? Where in the Constitution does it say presidents have to know stuff, huh?

The interview ended with Sykes trying one last time to get Trump to apologize for slurring Heidi Cruz, and with Trump again insisting, "He started it!" and asking when he'd get an apology from Cruz for something that other people actually did, because as everyone knows, Cruz started it, and did he mention that Cruz started it? Sykes got downright schoolmarmish at that point:

“We’re not on a playground,” Sykes said. “We’re running for president of the United States.”

“I agree with that 100 percent, and my views are not playground views,” Trump said. “My views are that our country is losing on every front.”

So neener-neener, mister radio man. We're starting to like these crazy reporters with their insistence that Trump actually answer the questions they ask. Not that it'll have any effect on his supporters; now Trump can have a nice big rally where he accuses those bullies in the media of constantly hounding him instead of letting him say whatever damn fool thing comes to mind.

[WaPo / NYT / NYT again / Politifact / WTMJ Radio / Politico]

Doktor Zoom

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.

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