So, Donald Trump returned from Hanoi early, the official rationale being that no deal is better than a bad deal. I wondered if that conclusion could not have been arrived at before Trump made his diplomatic bungee-jump with the chronically opaque, ruthless dictator Kim Jung Un who, according to Trump, can pen a heart-fluttering love letter.
Immediately upon returning from the Vietnam sleepover, Trump went to Maryland where he delivered a two-hour, free-association riff before the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that he himself described as being “off script. I got elected by being off script.”
In the aggregate, his marathon speech offers a glimpse, a window perhaps, into the mind of the man some 63 million Americans voted for and 90 percent of Republicans continue to support. This is the man who took “The Art of the Deal” to Vietnam where the harrowing topic of “denuclearization” was on the menu but not ordered.
Find below the untethered, word salad comments by Trump, all made at CPAC. I include annotated comments.
Regarding the coming general election: “I think we’re going to do even better in 2020. I think we’re going to do numbers that people haven’t seen for a long time.”
As for 2016: “We had — think of this — the great election. In all fairness I used to hear Andrew Jackson. This was now greater than the election of Andrew Jackson. People say that. No, people say it. I’m not saying it. Right? This was the equivalent or greater.”
Dear Vlad, just kidding, really: “If you’re telling a joke, if you’re sarcastic like, ‘Russia, please, if you can, get us Hillary Clinton’s emails. Please, Russia, please.’ ”
To the swooning CPAC glitterati: “Number one, I’m in love and you’re in love, we’re in love together. There’s so much love in this room, you can talk your heart out. You really could. There’s love in this room. You can talk your heart out. It’s easy. It’s easy.”
Size matters: “And from the day we came down the escalator, I really don’t believe we’ve had an empty seat at any arena ... Take a look at those (inauguration) crowds. I’ve never seen anything like it. And I have to live — I have to live with crowd size. It’s all a phony deal.”
Your national emergency or mine: “By the way, you know I’m building the wall. We’re finishing the wall. We got a lot of money. It’s in the thing.”
Really?: “We have people in Congress that hate our country.”
Trump goes all bilingual: “For one thing, they don’t respect us. They think we’re stupido.”
On forest fire prevention: “The leaves — every once in a while you have to remove the leaves because they are so — a guy smoking a cigarette, he throws it away, he doesn’t mean it.”
On alternatve energy: “Darling, is the wind blowing today? I’d like to watch television, darling.”
What’s not to like: “I never saw so many beautiful looking machine guns. I’d look at that equipment and I’d say, ‘man. They sit in trees. They sit on the lawn.’ ”
A color not found in nature: “See, I don’t have white hair. I don’t have white hair.”
A man of vision: “I have pretty good vision. At least for my age, I have good vision. I guess for my age, I have great vision.”
The incredibles: “You know, somebody said, ‘Oh, the speech you made, sir, the State of the Union speech was incredible.’ They said it was incredible. They said that was so great.”
Victory with a “V”: “I did 32 big, fat rallies (in 2018). Tremendous victory in the Senate.”
No mea culpas here: “Not my fault. I inherited this mess, but we’re fixing it.”
So, Republicans, at what point does that moment arrive when you — the righteous defenders of our Constitution, champions of Old Glory lapel pins — put country before party?
Chris Honoré is a Daily Tidings columnist.