by John Walters
1. Spirit of 77 Minutes
Tony Soprano had Dr. Melfi. Donald Trump has the White House press corps.
With very little advance notice, Trump called a midday press conference and owned the air waves for 77 minutes (Why should Jake Tapper have all the fun?)
Donald won a few, lost more (well done, Peter Alexander), and used a lot of superlatives, more superlatives than anyone else in the world, in fact (“Buh-lieve me!”). Still, this was the most fun he’s had since having taken the oath of office.
Why? Because doing the job has never been what motivates him. Winning the job does.. He’s into the chase, with ratings, with money, with women, and even for the White House. Having it, well, what’s the fun of that? Another Donald from New York, a Don Draper once articulated the Trump motive:
2. Bully. Pulpit.
In all the years of doing The Apprentice, Thursday was Trump’s best reality-show performance. And the most illuminating as to who he is. It was fun to watch the dismissive jabs he threw at reporters (“I know you have to stand and ask your question; so important”) and to watch as the press fought back.
“Where are you from?”
“Here’s another beauty.”
“That’s a good line. Impartial, free and fair.”
It’s during these jousts that we see how impulsive he is. How thin-skinned. How defensive. As someone noted on Twitter, this was the press conference of a football coach who knows he’s about to be fired.
3. Let’s Make A Deal
When Major Garrett of CBS (when will he be promoted to Lt. Colonel??? I”m pulling for you, Major) asked Trump about the Russian spy ship and other recent provocations from Putin testing him, Trump interjected, “Not good.” Then, in a rambling two-minute answer in which Trump intoned “Nuclear holocaust is like no other” (Look, he just mentioned “holocaust” without referencing Jews again), he used the word “deal” eight times in relation to Russia. What deal? Like, treaty? What? Is everything a deal with this man (yes)?
4. Anti-Semitic or Anti-Semantic?
Asked about an uptick of threats against Jewish people since the election—and granted, we elect a president, not a national hall monitor or poor behavior—Trump replied, “So here’s the story, folks. Number one, I am the least…anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen…in your entire life. Number two, the least racist person. In fact we did very well.…”
And then he moved on to how he did at the ballots with certain minorities.
Again, and I apologize for being so repetitious, but it always goes back to being about him. And I haven’t had the time or the will to review the entire presser, but notice how often Trump mentions himself in the superlative degree (“The most” this, “the greatest” that). It’s Demagoguery 101, and I don’t even think he knows or cares how it sounds.
The thing is, he’s just entertaining, charismatic and unpredictable enough that you want to keep watching or listening. It’s all bulls*t, but what great theater.
5. Stranger Things
Let’s turn away from Trump’s presser and nuclear holocaust and move on to something upbeat. What do we have? Oh, here’s something. Two young teenage girls in northwest Indiana went for a hike in the woods on Monday afternoon. They were dropped off at 1 p.m. (their school had no classes that day) but failed to show up to be picked up four hours later.
The bodies of Libby German, 14, and Abby Williams, 13, were found near a railroad bridge in the town of Delphi, not too far from Purdue University. Investigators are calling it a double homicide and have a photo of a person of interest, a man, seen walking solo on the trail. This is the first known double homicide in the history of that county.
Police have released almost no details, but you wonder how someone was able to detain both girls. And while, yes, this happened along a secluded nature trail, how did no one hear a scream? And finally, how does this happen? Is it premeditated? Is there a bogeyman just waiting for a woman to come by, and why on this day? It’s just pure evil, and it’s a total nightmare.
What a light and bouncy set of items today….
Time For Me To Fly
REO Speedwagon was still a Chicago-area band in 1978 when it released the album (What were you thinking with that title?) You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish. At the time America was not into white bread rock as disco, punk and embryonic New Wave ruled. Even though the first two songs on this album are classics (this one and “Roll With The Changes”), they never got the love that later, far cheesier and far inferior REO tunes would This song, for example, peaked at No. 56. REO is the classic example of a band whose best tunes, written earlier, are inversely proportional to how popular the band became, which was later.
NBA All-Star Game
8 p.m. TNT
I’ll be honest: If I’m watching TV at all on Sunday night, I’ll be watching Tangled on ABC. That’s a solid animated movie (don’t ask how I first happened upon it). But I’m a little excited about watching the Greak Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo, to watch league MVP Russell Westbrook come off the bench and shoot for a third consecutive All-Star Game MVP, and for the courtesy claps Gordon Hayward will receive (How many times did you vote online, Grant?).