Those precious bodily fluids: Try not to be shocked, but Candidate Trump was Chuck Todd's first guest on yesterday's Meet the Press.
Candidate Trump appeared by phone, the highly unusual format the candidate seems to prefer. In the past, candidates haven't been afforded this luxury, which makes it easier for volk like Trump to filibuster folk like Todd.
Why was Candidate Trump invited onto the program? Presumably, to boost the ratings for Meet the Press. We say that because it was abundantly clear that Todd had little or nothing to ask his famous guest.
Todd began by asking about a claim Candidate Clinton had made—the claim that ISIS is "going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists."
This at least was current. "It's just another Hillary lie," Trump trumpastically said. "She lies like crazy about everything, whether it's strips where she was being gunned down in a helicopter or an airplane. She's a liar and everybody knows that."
If there was an irony involved in Trump calling someone else a liar, Todd didn't choose to note it. Trump was soon off to another complaint, with his meek host attempting to object:
TODD (12/20/15): Let me ask you this. If you knew your words were being used in recruitment videos, because I've had plenty of intelligence officials worry about this. You're right, there is no evidence yet.Trump was complaining that Clinton took too long to widdle at Saturday night's debate. Just like that, within roughly a minute, Todd had been reduced to asking Trump why he keeps complaining about Clinton's bathroom breaks.
But if you knew your words were being used, would you change your language?
TRUMP: No, because I think that my words represent toughness and strength. Hillary is not strong. Hillary is weak, frankly. She's got nothing.
TODD: Wait, let me stop you there—
TRUMP: She doesn't have—she couldn't even get back—George, she couldn't even get back on the stage. Nobody knows what happened to her. It's like she went home and went to sleep.
TODD: Why do you keep going on this?
TRUMP: She couldn't even get back on the stage last night.
TRUMP: I'll tell you why.
TRUMP: Because we need a president with great strength and great stamina. And Hillary doesn't have that.
The answer was obvious. "We need a president with great stamina," the high-minded candidate said. He seemed on the verge of analyzing those precious bodily fluids.
Within two minutes, Todd had been reduced to clucking about Trump's obsession with the lady candidate's bathroom breaks. But don't cry for Argentina! As the pointless "interview" wound on, it became abundantly clear that Todd had nothing to ask this candidate about on this particular day. He scattershot his way along, basically feeding lines to Trump which triggered Trump's greatest hits:
TODD: Let me ask you to respond to your friend Jeb Bush and what he had to say about you yesterday. Take a listen to the full quote and I'll get you on the other side.Really? "Jeb is a low-energy person?" Has Trump really said that before? Meanwhile, why, yes, right and OK. Those were Todd's four basic lines!
BUSH: Just one other thing. I've got to get this off my chest. Donald Trump is a jerk.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
BUSH: I feel better now. I just, I just— I gave myself therapy there. Thank you for allowing me to do it.
TODD: Well, this has escalated between you and Mr. Bush.
TRUMP: Look, his people gave him that quote. You could see he was just saying, "OK, I'm ready now. I'm ready now to say it." Jeb is a weak and ineffective person. He's also a low-energy person, which I've said before, but he's a weak and ineffective person. Jeb, if he were president, it would just be more of the same. It would be just— He's got money from all of the lobbyists and all of the special interests that run him like a puppet.
TODD: Yes. I mean—
TRUMP: He's got 2 percent in the polls. I have 41 percent in the latest poll. He has 2 percent. He's going to be off the stage soon.
TRUMP: He's an embarrassment to the Bush family. And, in fact, he doesn't even want to use the Bush name, which is interesting. Jeb is an embarrassment to himself and to his family.
TRUMP: And the Republican Party—
TRUMP: Has, has essentially—they're not even listening to Jeb.
TRUMP: Jeb is saying that. By the way, Jeb—
TRUMP: Jeb is only saying that to try and get a little mojo going.
TRUMP: But in the meantime, I went up 11 points in the new Fox poll.
TRUMP: I went up 11 points After the debate and he went down two.
Sadly, that's how it looks when a Meet the Press host agrees to perform as a caddy. Presumably, the program got its ratings bump, so everything turned out OK.
In this morning's New York Times, Paul Krugman pretended to explain how our political and journalistic culture reached its current ludicrous state. He seemed to attribute the whole devolution to the GOP.
Krugman described a silly Republican policy discussion, then ended the column like this:
KRUGMAN (12/21/15): In case you’re wondering, nothing like this process has happened on the Democratic side. When Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debate, say, financial regulation, it’s a real discussion, with both candidates evidently well informed about the issues. American political discourse as a whole hasn’t been dumbed down, just its conservative wing.In truth, the dumbing-down of American discourse can't be attributed to the GOP alone. Dating at least to the Bush-Gore campaign where Krugman began his history lesson, an aggressive role in this devolution has been played by the massively overpaid corporate hirelings who make up the so-called mainstream press corps.
Going back to Republicans, does this mean that Mr. Trump will actually be the nominee? I have no idea. But it’s important to realize that he isn’t someone who suddenly intruded into Republican politics from an alternative universe. He, or someone like him, is where the party has been headed for a long time.
Todd fed Trump his favorite lines. By now, it has become abundantly clear that Krugman will never tell.