There was a moment during rapper Kanye West’s 10-minute Oval Office soliloquy on, um, hydrogen planes, alternative universes and the 13th Amendment (among LOTS of other things) when the cameras zoomed in on President Donald Trump’s face. Trump looked alternatively bemused, entertained, baffled, guarded and, yes, maybe even a little nervous all at once.
Which is the closest I have ever felt to the President – because I was feeling all those same things watching the rapper and the celebrity President interact in front of the cameras. (“Interact” probably oversells it. Kanye just sort of talked at Trump, with an occasional pause to side-hug the President or show him a plane from his phone.)
It was a particularly Trumpian spectacle. Kanye was invited, alongside NFL great Jim Brown, ostensibly to talk about prison reform, but was really brought to the White House because a) he is a celebrity b) he says nice things about Trump and c) he guarantees eyeballs and buzz everywhere he goes.
And of course, everyone watched – even if they said they didn’t want to or didn’t care – because it was impossible to tear yourself away from the spectacle. Kanye didn’t really talk much about prison reform but, then again, I am not sure what the hell he did talk about.
I watched the whole thing because, again, how could you not? Below are the 17 most surreal, weird and only-in-the-Trump-White-House moments. Some are quotes. Some are observations. Some are, well, not able to be adequately described in words. I didn’t rank them in any set order, because how in the world would you even do that?
1. Trump’s face
I mean, absolutely epic. I think you could see Trump thinking “Was this a mistake?” during the middle-to-late section of Kanye’s speech. But then Kanye landed the (rhetorical) plane – somehow – and Trump seemed thrilled with all the attention. All’s well that ends well – or something.
2. “So there’s a theory that – there’s infinite amounts of universe and there’s alternate universe so it’s very important for me to get [Larry] Hoover out, because in an alternate universe, I am him and I have to go and get him free.”
Also, Hoover is the founder of a Chicago gang, who is currently serving six consecutive life sentences in a supermax prison in Colorado. West had advocated for Hoover’s release before – most notably wearing a “Free Hoover” sweatshirt during a recent “Saturday Night Live” appearance.
3. The hug
We are all witnesses. “I love this guy right here,” Kanye explained. “Let me give this guy a hug. I love this guy right here.”
(Later, Kanye hugged ABC’s Jon Karl. Equal opportunity hugger, I guess.)
4. “It was something about when I put this hat on. … It made me feel like Superman. That’s my favorite superhero. And you made a Superman cape for me.”
5. Kanye swearing
It’s just not every day that you hear legit curse words – not like H-E-L-L – be uttered publicly in the Oval Office. “Put the bleep on it, however you want to do it,” Kanye helpfully noted to the assembled press after he swore for the first time. Can’t say he didn’t warn us!
6. “The Yeezy Effect”
Kanye, in talking about how the Make America Great Again hat gave him courage, talked about how went into business with Adidas – and how Adidas suddenly started making lots and lots of money. This is, of course, “the Yeezy effect.”
7. Abolishing the 13th Amendment
Kanye has drawn huge criticism in the past for his advocacy of getting rid of the amendment to the Constitution that prohibits slavery. It apparently hasn’t curbed his desire to see the amendment repealed. Here’s how West explained it with Trump on Thursday: “If you’re building a floor, the constitution is the base of our industry, right, of our country, of our company. Would you build a trap door that if you mess up and you accidentally something happens, you fall and you end up next to the Unabomber?” Uh.
8. “So he said that I actually wasn’t bipolar. I had sleep deprivation which can cause dementia 10 to 20 years from now, I wouldn’t even remember my son’s name.”
As recently as August, West was talking openly about being diagnosed as bipolar, and referring to the condition as his “superpower.”
9. Kanye on saying “dope”
“I don’t really say dope. I don’t say negative words. We just say positive, lovely, divine, universal words.” Wise words.