We often say it about technology, transportation, communication: the world is moving so much faster than it did when we were just kids. But according to BoomerCafé co-founder and executive editor Greg Dobbs, it’s just as true about politics. In this Boomer Opinion piece, which is Greg’s personal take and not necessarily the opinion of BoomerCafé, he laments the non-stop crises these days in Trump World.
As older baby boomers will remember, even the Cuban Missile Crisis took 13 days.
Today though, in Trump World, 13 days is an eternity. There’s not enough space in this column to catalogue, let alone absorb, let alone understand, the past 13 days in Trump World. Any 13 days in Trump World.
So let’s look at just one. Just 24 hours — a span from May 2nd to May 3rd — in the rat-a-tat-tat world of Donald Trump.
The big news was, of course, that Trump did, after all, pay back his personal lawyer Michael Cohen the $130,000 that Cohen had spent to try to silence porn star Stormy Daniels. A waste of good money, by the way; Stormy is not a woman to be silenced.
In the pre-Trump world, the admission by the president’s new lawyer Rudy Giuliani that the president had “funneled” that money through Michael Cohen’s law firm — sure, some might just call it “money laundering” but let’s not get hung up on semantics — could be enough to sink a different president. But not this one.
In the pre-Trump world, the admission by the president himself that he was complicit in the payment of hush money, after flatly saying “No” when reporters on Air Force One asked just a month ago if he’d known about the payment to Ms. Clifford, could be enough to sink a different president. But not this one. (And we won’t even get into the connivance of his staff, like press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said in early March, “I’ve had conversations with the president about this. He has denied all these allegations.”
Melania must be spinning in her stiletto heels.
Mind you, to hear the President tell it in his Thursday morning tweet (and by “Thursday morning,” I mean 4:46AM, which suggests this president is not the cool cucumber he would have you believe), all this proves is, “Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.” But this only raises a bigger question — maybe the big question: which Donald Trump are we supposed to believe? The one who said “No,” or the one who now says “Yes?”
As if we actually wondered whether to trust Trump before this.
And I can’t resist pointing out — even though this goes back a whole week — that in late April, Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded the Fifth Amendment. He’s free to, of course, but one can’t help but bring back the words of Donald Trump himself during his campaign about people who plead the Fifth: “The mob takes the Fifth Amendment. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” Maybe he needs to ask his lawyer. Come to think of it, when Trump’s lawyer needs a lawyer, maybe Trump needs yet another one himself.
Now, a personal digression: this whole story that Trump did indeed repay Michael Cohen, which until now he had denied and so had Cohen, came up Wednesday night when new lawyer Giuliani spilled the beans on Fox to Trump sycophant Sean Hannity. Now, had Giuliani told this story to me back when I worked as a reporter, I might have asked him a fairly obvious question like, “So are you saying that up til now, Trump has been lying?” Hannity evidently didn’t think that was important.
But mentioning Giuliani is a good segue to a second strange scene on just this one day in Trump World. Namely, Giuliani’s Thursday morning announcement — again on Fox — that three Korean-Americans being held in a prison in North Korea will soon be released.
Normally, we would treat this as good news — great news — and leave it at that.
But here’s one reason why we can’t: because the last time we looked, Giuliani was not the Secretary of State, he was just the president’s lawyer. That might explain why— and excuse me for my obsolete outlook but wouldn’t State normally be the one to make such an announcement, or maybe even the White House?— the State Department could only say in a statement after Giuliani’s second bombshell in this single 24-hour period, “We cannot confirm the validity of these reports.”
They can’t, but Giuliani can?
And here’s a second reason why such good news can still only leave us scratching our heads: Trump’s tweet on the topic. “As everybody is aware, the past Administration has long been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean Labor camp, but to no avail.” Actually Mr. President, no one is aware of that, since only one of these three prisoners has been held by the North Koreans since “the past Administration,” meaning Obama’s, was in office. The other two were taken prisoner last year when, in case anyone’s memory is fuzzy on the timing, the man in the White House was none other than … sit down for this … Donald Trump.
Which is a segue of sorts to the third blockbuster in this single 24-hour day, and it really kind of ties everything together: Trump’s first-ever visit, Wednesday, to the State Department. That alone should alarm people, that after more than a year-and-a-quarter in office Trump never paid a visit til now, but what struck me was what he said to State’s employees once he got there.
And if you think I’m talking about his remark about “more spirit than I’ve heard from the State Department in a long time, many years,” I’m not. Although it does prompt the question, How. Would. He. Know? if he’s never been there before now?
But no, I’m talking about another uniquely Trumpian statement when referring to new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s first-in-his-class status at West Point: “I’ve also heard I was first in my class at the Wharton School of Finance. And sometimes when you hear it, you don’t say anything, you just let it go.” He sure should, since although he has made such a claim many times, it just ain’t true. A look at the school newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, from Trump’s year, 1968, shows a list of 56 students on the Dean’s List. No mention of Trump. A look at the graduation program the same year lists 20 award winners at Wharton. As well as Class of ’68 recipients of cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude honors. Again, no Trump.
Too bad, really, that the small scandal with President Trump’s personal physician— admitting that his incandescent account of Trump’s health during the campaign was actually written by the candidate himself— came the day before all the rest of this. I guess if we had simply compared its language to the classic narcissistic hyperbole we hear from the President every day— phrases like “astonishingly excellent,” and “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency”— we’d have known they were Trump’s own self-admiring words before Dr. Bornstein admitted it.
It’s not as if the statements and events and reversals and lies of this one 24-hour span of time is any big revelation. You could pick just about any 24-hour period and come up with just as much. It is non-stop crisis. Constitutional and otherwise.
Do you remember, just two days before the 2016 election, when Trump said that his opponent Hillary Clinton’s “current scandals and controversies will continue throughout her presidency,” and that it would be “impossible for her to govern?”
It sounds almost peaceful.
Greg’s book about the wacky ways of a foreign correspondent, Life in the Wrong Lane, is available now as an audiobook — which Greg narrates himself — and can be preordered to download right here.