Today, our new president invited 20 or so people to the White House to dutifully celebrate Black History Month [something he’s probably given little previous thought to.] He did it in his own clumsy, rambling, self-serving way. You can watch the entire video of his remarks here, or below, or you can read the full transcript.
This is another glimpse into how Trump conducts himself in less-visible meetings and casual settings. He’s still in campaign mode, still unable to focus on the task at hand, still angry and lashing out at people who don’t give him proper adulation. Personally, I thought he seemed uncomfortable, but he probably thought his event was a home run and that he charmed the group with his quips and off-the-cuff remarks. [One troubling aspect of the meeting, for me, is how his audience kisses up to him after his brief remarks, tells him they “have his back,” and treats him as though he is doing a great job.] If you watch the video, be sure to stick around after the “formal” remarks to hear what his guests say, and how he responds–that’s not in this transcript. Some of it made me cringe.
The transcript and the video demonstrate, once again, what we are unfortunately becoming accustomed to: A few scripted words about the event itself, but many, many more impromptu, off-topic words about Trump himself, his glorious victory, his great campaign, fake news, the missing-not-missing statue of Martin Luther King in the White House, etc. Every so often, he remembers where he is and that this is a Black History Month event, so he throws in something about the only black people he sorta knows who are in the room with him, including Omarosa–from his favorite tv show, “The Apprentice.” He calls her “my television star over here, and as his attention wanders from the tedious job of acknowledging black history, he reminds us that she is not the meanie portrayed on tv. But she’s black, see, so the comments are appropriate for the occasion, right?
At one point he tries to pay homage to black history luminary Frederick Douglass [whom he probably never heard of before]. Here’s how that went:
“Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I noticed. Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today. Big impact.”
Big deal: He can name check Tubman and Parks. Last week, my 7-year-old granddaughter did the same thing.
Trump also blathers–falsely, of course–about how much support he had in the black community during the election.
This is a great group, this is a group that’s been so special to me. You really helped me a lot. If you remember I wasn’t going to do well with the African-American community, and after they heard me speaking and talking about the inner city and lots of other things, we ended up getting—and I won’t go into details—but we ended up getting substantially more than other candidates who had run in the past years
Fact check: Trump got 8 percent of the black vote.
And here’s what he’s going to do for the black community:
We’re gonna need better schools and we need them soon. We need more jobs, we need better wages, a lot better wages. We’re gonna work very hard on the inner city. Ben is gonna be doing that, big league. That’s one of the big things that you’re gonna be looking at. We need safer communities and we’re going to do that with law enforcement. We’re gonna make it safe. We’re gonna make it much better than it is right now. Right now it’s terrible.
It’s more of the same incoherent, zigzagging babble we’ve heard and read in previous transcripts.
But it’s still not normal.