Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I watched him interviewed

Image via EurWeb.
There's a new spareness in Donald Trump's poetic diction, a sheer terrifying verticality, dispensing with the merely pretty or ornamental, a new aim at the bare sublime of alp or iceberg. The critics seem a little baffled by it: they're calling it "incoherent", as if it hadn't been incoherent before, but I think we may see in the end that it's mostly spinier. The repetition is more and more an architectonic device: where syntactical incompleteness conveys the fragmentary character of experience, repetition binds it together.

Lament on Unexpected Treachery
by Donald J. Trump

well he said you’ll be the greatest
president in the history of

but you know what
I’ll take that also
but that you could be

but he said will be the greatest
president but I would
also accept the other

in other words
if you do your job
but I accept that


then I watched him interviewed
and it was like he
never even was here

it’s incredible

I watched him interviewed
a week later and it’s like he
was never in my office
and you can even say that

The backstory here, if you need it, having to do with Trump's encounter with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) on March 8, at the White House, where they discussed a matter of mutual concern, the problem of rising prices for prescription drugs. It appears that some masterstroke of negotiation on the president's part impressed Cummings so much that he burst out, "You will go down as one of the great presidents in the history of our country!" Strange, you'll say, but that's what Trump told us later on.

Stranger still, on April 4, as the president was enjoying his Morning Joe (a month after the Cummings meeting, not a week as the poem suggests), he was startled to see an interview with Mika for none other than Congressman Cummings, talking about the ongoing investigation of possible collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign as if he hadn't recognized Trump's greatness at all, in the most cold and hurtful terms (my transcription, and I don't think anybody has pointed this out before):
This is very unusual when you have an investigation and the subject of the investigation is meddling to some degree with the investigation, that's highly unusual, and I would advise the president if he hasn't anything to hide let it go—let the investigators do their job and let it go.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Are you concerned that the president—he seems to be tweeting "Look over here, look over here"? He seems to be getting involved.... isn't the president himself meddling with these investigations when he tweets about them?
CUMMINGS: I've practiced law for 30 years and I've never seen anything like this.... When the president finds himself in some difficulty then he moves the shells like a shell game and says "Let's move over here." And all of that seems to point to, first of all, deception, and then the question becomes why is there the deception...
WILLIE GEIST: Do you have confidence that this president can do the job for this country? You were skeptical early on....
CUMMINGS: I am still very skeptical, and let me tell you why: when you have someone who does not always tell the truth it's very very difficult. When I sat there and I met with him for an hour I enjoyed the conversation, I really did, but while I sat there I could not help but think about the DACA kids I met that were crying the night before at the church, couldn't help but think about all the EPA employees that are frightened to death that they can't do the science they've been trained to do. I'm thinking about the churches—when you go to churches now the churches are filled, you know why, because people are in fear, and one of the things I fear with the president is that you cannot lead a country where 67% of the people are fearing you...
You can imagine how betrayed Trump felt as he witnessed this, in his bathrobe or let's say pajamas, as someone he thought he could trust (he didn't realize that Cummings has resolutely and eloquently opposed him forever because Cummings doesn't usually do gigs for Morning Joe or Fox, how would Trump know). He expressed his distress in the interview he did the following day in that Wednesday's New York Times, April 5, where this whole story began to emerge:

TRUMP: Elijah Cummings was in my office and he said, “You will go down as one of the great presidents in the history of our country.”
TRUMP: And then he went out and I watched him on television yesterday and I said, “Was that the same man?”
And then on Thursday, a response from Cummings:
During my meeting with the president and on several occasions since then, I have said repeatedly that he could be a great president if … if … he takes steps to truly represent all Americans rather than continuing on the divisive and harmful path he is currently on.
Oh, really, Rep.Cummings? You've given this man so much sadness, and now you think you can make up for it with some cheap, or indeed free, advice? I don't think so. It's no wonder Trump is upset. Or that he should have been driven to poetry, on a new and surprising level.

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