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Can you believe this phenomenon? Isn't it incredible?


Even though he's still a mindless jerk who'll be first up against the wall when the revolution comes, Michael Wolff has written a pretty fun profile of Donald Trump for the Hollywood Reporter. It must have been rather astonishing for Wolff to finally meet a bigger narcissist than himself.

The big news get from the article is Yet Another Thing Donald Trump Is Clueless About, which made for excellent Twitter fodder when the article was published Wednesday: Trump, who knows about foreign policy from watching the shows, has apparently never heard the phrase "Brexit" to describe Britain's upcoming referendum on whether it should leave the European Union:

"And Brexit? Your position?" I ask.

"Huh?"

"Brexit."

"Hmm."

"The Brits leaving the EU," I prompt, realizing that his lack of familiarity with one of the most pressing issues in Europe is for him no concern nor liability at all.

"Oh yeah, I think they should leave."

Wolff actually gave a far more detailed explication of the conversation on Wednesday's All In with Chris Hayes, explaining the moment of blankness that came over Trump's face and his immediate blustering reply:

Wolff explained to Hayes,

I was kind of panicked for him ... I finally had to explain, and when I said "The Brits leaving the EU," OK, he got that. But 'Brexit' ... It's probably the word most frequently used in the British press over the last six months. Nothing. Blankness.

As for Trump's immediate confident "opinion" that Britain should definitely leave the EU, Wolff explained such potentially controversial statements don't seem to take up a lot of space in Trump's head anyway:

The important thing is, he wasn't interested in giving an explanation. He was interested in moving off that topic, to talk about himself.

The same goes for Trump's denial that he'd ever met rightwing Italian politician Matteo Salvini, who makes no secret of his neofascist leanings. Never mind that the Wall Street Journal had quoted Trump as saying "Matteo, I wish you become the next Italian premier soon," or that Trump was photographed with Salvini at an April rally in Pennsylvania, a picture from Salvini's Twitter feed Hayes was only too happy to put onscreen in the intro to his interview with Wolff.

When Wolff asked Trump about Salvini, he insisted he'd never met the guy, and "didn't want to meet him." Further, Wolff says,

he doesn't particularly see similarities -- or at least isn't interested in them -- between those movements and the anti-immigrant nationalism he is promoting in this country.

But why would Trump lie about it, apart from being a transparent pathological liar who knows you know he knows he's lying? Wolff explained to Hayes that he genuinely couldn't tell whether Trump's denial was motivated by political calculation, not wanting to be associated with Salvini, or whether there's simply no more fascinating topic to Donald Trump than Donald Trump:

I can't tell you if that's his motive, or if the motive -- and I think this is just as strong -- is, "I don't want to be bothered with that now. I don't want to talk about that now. I want to talk about me right now. Why bring this up? It doesn't interest me."

Wolff certainly isn't the first journalist to notice that Trump always has to bring the conversation back to what a terrific, interesting guy he is, but this Hollywood Reporter profile is a gem of the genre:

"Have you ever seen anything like this?" he asked. He meant this, the Trump phenomenon. Circumventing any chance that I might dampen the sentiment, he quickly answered his own question: "No one ever has."

His son-in-law, New York Observer owner Jared Kushner, married to his daughter Ivanka and also a real estate scion -- but clearly a more modest and tempered fellow, a wisp next to his beefsteak father-in-law -- offered that they may have reached 100 percent name recognition. In other words, Trump could be the most famous man in the world right now. "I may be," says Trump, almost philosophically, and referencing the many people who have told him they've never seen anything like this. "Bill O'Reilly said in his lifetime this is the greatest phenomenon he's ever seen."

That notion is what's at the center of this improbable campaign, its own brilliant success. It's its main subject -- the one you can't argue with.

We get the usual stuff about Trump's obsession with polls: he can't tell you anything about technology policy, but he knows exactly how many followers he has on every possible social media platform, and Wolff can't shake the sense that Trump is always onstage one way or another, that the "real" Donald Trump is whatever Donald Trump happens to exist in any given moment, although he seems to try hard to be nicer in one-on-one conversation than at a podium.

As Wolff is leaving, he manages his other big scoop of the interview, one more variation on the theme of Donald Trump the empty designer suit:

I ask that de rigeur presidential question, which does not seem yet to have been asked of him. "What books are you reading?"

He knows he's caught (it's a question that all politicians are prepped on, but who among his not-bookish coterie would have prepped him even with the standard GOP politician answer: the Bible?). But he goes for it.

"I'm reading the Ed Klein book on Hillary Clinton" — a particular hatchet job, which at the very least has certainly been digested for him. "And I'm reading the book on Richard Nixon that was, well, I'll get you the exact information on it. I'm reading a book that I've read before, it's one of my favorite books, All Quiet on the Western Front, which is one of the greatest books of all time." And one I suspect he's suddenly remembering from high school. But what the hell.

Yeah, sure. He's rereading All Quiet on the Western Front. We can hardly wait for journalists to ask him some follow-up questions about that great antiwar classic he may have skimmed over fifty years ago when he was at military school, where he felt exactly like he'd served a tour of duty. Knowing Trump, he won't even bother looking at the Cliffs Notes, because he happens to know that's one of his favorite books, and why would you doubt him on that?

[Hollywood Reporter / MSNBC]

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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