Sometimes the simplest questions are the most revealing.
Twice in the past week, President Donald Trump has been asked by friendly anchors – Sean Hannity and Eric Bolling – what he wants to do in a second term. And twice he has shown he has absolutely no idea.
Here’s how Trump answered Hannity’s question last Thursday – in 138 words:
“One of the things that will be really great – the word experience is still good, I always say talent is more important than experience, I’ve always said that – but the word experience is a very important word, a very important meaning.
“I never did this before, never slept over in Washington. I was in Washington maybe 17 times and all of a sudden I’m the president of the United States, you know the story, riding down Pennsylvania Avenue with our first lady and I say this is great but I didn’t know very many people in Washington, it wasn’t my thing. I was from Manhattan, from New York, and now I know everybody. And I have great people in the administration. You make some mistakes, like an idiot like Bolton, you don’t have to drop bombs on everybody.”
Then, in an interview with Bolling, a former Fox News personality who now works for Sinclair Broadcasting, Trump still couldn’t articulate any reason why he wanted a second term or what he would do with one. again. Check out how Bolling teed it up for Trump, and how the President just said a bunch of words (376 of them to be exact):
Bolling: “Sean Hannity asked you about your second term, and the left was upset with it. They said he wasn’t sure what his second term’s all about. Let’s do it. Let’s do a retake on that. What is Donald Trump’s second term – what’s the main focus for that?”
Trump: “Well, I didn’t hear anybody was upset with it, but I will tell you it’s very simple: We’re going to make America great again. We’ve rebuilt the military, we have a ways to go. We’ve done things for the vets like nobody’s ever seen. We can do even more – we did choice, as you know, we did accountability. What we’ve done nobody’s been able to do. But we have more to do.
“Economic development, jobs, trade deals – the trade deals I’ve made are incredible. We made the great deal with China. Of course, as I said, the ink wasn’t dried before we got hit with the China plague. But we made the deal. In fact, today is really the first day, the first official day, the USMCA – that’s Mexico and Canada. This was NAFTA, one of the worst deals ever made, one of the worst trade deals. We suffered with that deal for many, many years, and nobody could terminate it. I terminated it – gave you a new deal. I made a new deal with South Korea. We have many great trade deals. Our country will be so strong.
“At the end of our first term, it’s going to be great, it would have been phenomenal. We got hit with the plague. At the end of the second term, it’s going to be at a level that nobody will have ever seen a country. We’re doing it, whether it’s trade, whether it’s military – all made in the USA, so important. Made in the USA. … We’ve got to bring back our manufacturing and I brought it back very big, but we have to make our own pharmaceutical products, our own drugs, prescription drugs.
“We have to make our own things – we’re doing it now with steel, we’re doing it now with a lot of different products. I’ve done that. But we can do it with a lot more. We want to build our own ships. We don’t want to send out to other countries to build ships. So we have a lot of things we can do. We’ve done a lot but we have a lot of things we can do.”
Even Bolling, who is obviously favorably inclined to Trump, can’t fake that Trump answered the question. “Always good to remind the American public what you’ve done in the first three and a half years,” he said after Trump’s extended, uh, riff on what he has done in his first term.
Go back and read those 514 words. I dare you to find a single one that actually answers the question of why Trump wants a second term or what he will do if he gets one.
Here are some of the things he did say.
* “I always say talent is more important than experience, I’ve always said that – but the word experience is a very important word, a very important meaning.”
* “I never did this before, never slept over in Washington.”
* “You make some mistakes, like an idiot like Bolton, you don’t have to drop bombs on everybody.”
* “What we’ve done nobody’s been able to do. But we have more to do.”
* “At the end of our first term, it’s going to be great, it would have been phenomenal. We got hit with the plague.”
* “We want to build our own ships.”
Like, what? Build our own ships? Sleep over in Washington? Not drop bombs on everyone?
What’s very clear here is that Trump has zero idea what he would do in a second term. Which, honestly, isn’t that surprising because he didn’t have any idea what he would do in a 1st. He wanted to win, and by winning, prove to the world that all the people who had laughed at him and mocked him throughout his life and in his pursuit of a political career were dead wrong.
Once he won, well, he’d just figure it out. Which is what the past three-plus years have been.
Trump’s inability to articulate why he would want to be president evokes the famous/infamous response of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) to CBS’ Roger Mudd in the summer of 1979 when asked why he wanted to be president.
Kennedy paused for several seconds, then delivered a long, largely nonsensical answer – a gaffe that is credited with derailing his at-the-time high-flying primary campaign against then-President Jimmy Carter.
Trump’s inability to articulate what he would do for a 2nd term won’t have that sort of seismic impact, of course. His supporters ignore anything that doesn’t present the President as a hero, vanquishing all who challenge him.
But, they do suggest that Trump still has no plan – other than to win, which doesn’t appear likely at the moment. And, winning isn’t a governing strategy.