TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Plus, Hillary Clinton's seances: Did Trump know what he was talking about when he spoke with Woodward?
Everything is possible! In yesterday's report, we posted the transcript of Woodward's first blockbuster excerpt—an excerpt from a phone conversation on February 7.
Trump said several things that day. Did he know what he was talking about? Also, is it possible that the commander was speaking in good faith?
Liberals were asked to get excited about Woodward's shocking excerpt. Just for the record, Woodward has constantly played it this way, with his books dating back to the time when he pretended that Hillary Clinton, then first lady, had been conducting seances with Eleanor Roosevelt—all so the great former journalist could sell a few million more books.
Concerning the February 7 excerpt, you can actually hear the tape of (one small part of) what Donald Trump said.
Somewhat hazily, Trump told Woodward that the new virus "goes through the air." He said "that's always tougher than the touch."
Beyond that, he seemed to say that the virus would kill five percent of people who became infected, as compared to a death rate of one percent with people who contract the flu.
Did he know what he was talking about? Was he speaking in good faith? Did his statistical claims make sense?
We can't answer those questions. Meanwhile, were his numbers in any way accurate? As far as we know, they were not.
Was the commander repeating things he'd actually been told? We don't know that either. Could it be that he really believed the pandemic was going to fizzle—Xi "is going to have it in good shape," he told Woodward in that same excerpt—and he was creating a future tale in which he'd be cast as the hero after the virus withered away in April?
Everything is possible! Also, given the craziness of the commander, none of this can necessarily be known.
Regarding "through the air" versus "the touch," the notion that the virus was transmitted that way was already being reported in major newspapers.
Did Trump mean "airborne" as opposed to "droplets?" We have no idea. There is, of course, a very good chance that he too had no idea.
Trump is an inveterate hustler. With respect to his endless books, Woodward has been similarly accused. The early excerpts from this book have allowed us to tell the story we like—We now know that he knew all along!—in the most simplistic way possible
The second of last week's blockbuster excerpts came from a telephone call on March 19. By now, Trump had panicked. He had flipped from his earlier rosy public stance.
By now, he had declared a national emergency and was talking about the need to take measures to avoid several million possible deaths.
By now, the commander in chief was in panic mode. Here's what he told Woodward that day in the excerpt we've been shown:
TRUMP (3/19/20): Now it's turning out, it's not just old people, Bob. But just today and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It's not just old, older—
WOODWARD: Yes, exactly.
TRUMP: Young people, too. Plenty of young people. We're looking at what's going on—
WOODWARD: So, give me a moment of talking to somebody, going through this with Fauci or somebody who kind of—it caused a pivot in your mind. Because it's clear just from what's on the public record that you went through a pivot on this, to "Oh my God, the gravity is almost inexplicable and unexplainable!"
TRUMP: Well, I think Bob really, to be honest with you—
WOODWARD: Sure, I want you to be.
TRUMP: I wanted to— I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down—
TRUMP: —because I don't want to create a panic.
We'd like to hear what was said after that. But in public, Trump was now in full panic mode, a stance he would soon abandon.
("It's clear that you went through a pivot on this," Woodward said. "Oh my god, the gravity!")
Whatever Woodward's intentions may have been, his early excerpts allowed us to tell The Story We Like in the most simplistic way possible. Trump knew it was horrible all along, but he kept playing it down!
As of March 19, Trump was actually talking disaster. Before too long, he flipped all the way back. Let's crowd into all our churches to celebrate Easter Sunday!
Meanwhile, and just for the record, Hillary Clinton didn't conduct any seances during her years as first lady. On the brighter side, Woodward's amusing promotional claim helped sell a large shitload of books.