George W. Bush was not one of those people. As charming and congenial as he could be, Bush as president was civil to a fault. His political enemies saw that as a weakness and exploited it.
Donald Trump may have his weaknesses, but excess civility is not among them. He declared for the presidency six days after I wrote the opening lead above—prescient, if I must say so myself--and has been reshaping the political landscape ever since.
So imagine a press conference in 2004, when a President Trump stood before the gathered press corps taking heat for the war in Iraq and everything else the press could throw at him pre-election.
“Mr. President, we hear more and more from the American people that Trump lied, people died. Why are they wrong?”
“Trump lied? Okay, Andrea. For years I’m trying to run my business and all I hear is WMD this, WMD that. Clinton, Gore, Hillary, the UN, Janet—what’s her name? Yea, you know, the big one. I think she played power forward for the Lakers. Yea, Reno, that’s it.”
“Then I inherit this guy at the CIA, and he’s a Democrat, George Tenet, and I ask him about WMDs, and he’s tells me it’s a slam dunk. Yea, slam dunk my rosy red Dutch arse.”
“You know what I said to him after nothing much showed up in Iraq? George, you’re fired! I think he’s now working the kitchen at a Greek diner in Queens.”
“True, Iraq may not have worked out that great, but then again neither did Atlantic City. And if nothing else, we took out Saddam and his perv sons, Huey and Dewey.”
“Mr. President, the headlines say, Trump knew. Did he?”
“They’re saying I knew 9-11 was coming and did nothing? That’s nuts.
I put my money into blind trusts, but they’re not that blind. I lost more in that one day than the Clintons can steal in a lifetime.”
“Helen Thomas? You still alive? Or was it just your career that died.”
“Mr. President. John Kerry and John Edwards, his running mate, now say they were misled when they voted to authorize the invasion. What do you say to that?”
“They knew what I knew. They were all gung-ho until howling Howard Dean got the crazies worked up. And now they want people to send them to the White House because they weren’t evil, just stupid. No, they can’t steal enough votes to win.”
“Mr. President, the occupation has not gone swimmingly. Many people are distressed that we allowed looters to destroy the priceless artifacts in the famed Iraqi museum. Any comment?”
“Famed Iraqi Museum? Yea, let’s see, the Met, the Louvre, and Bagdad Bob’s Roadside Museum and Rug Bazaar. What do they got in there? Jugs? Pots? Sand sculptures? You want me to risk American lives to save them. No, tell those ‘many people’ to go hump a camel.”
“Mr. President, Latinos complain that US Navy ships don’t play enough Salsa music over the intercom . . . . “
“Hey, Jorge, no one called on you. Wait your turn.”
“Mr. President . . . .”
“Jorge, is line-jumping a national trait with you people?”
“All the woman I see on Univision are hot and blond so whatever race you got going on down there just tell me where to sign up.”
“Hasta la vista, baby. . . . Yea, Terry.”
“Mr. President, if abortion were to be prohibited, do you think there should be a rape exception?”
“Terry, I don’t know much about rape. Why don’t you ask Bill Clinton about that. He’s got some hands-on experience.”
“Mr. President, don’t you think that answer would offend people.”
“If it does, tell them to put some ice on the sore spot.”
“Mr. President, do you think the ban on gays in the military will be lifted any time soon?”
“Why, Anderson, you interested in enlisting? Okay, one more question, yes, just to show what a big hearted guy I am, you, Jorge.”
“About that salsa music . . .