With his approval rating in the gutter, most of his staff departed, and his presidency hanging on by the tiniest of threads, Donald Trump resorted to a parlor trick last night: he briefly tried acting like a real president. He read a speech from a teleprompter about Afghanistan which, while simplistic and incompetent and empty of any trace of substance or knowledge, wasn’t a raging screaming pile of drool for once. But his speech had one phony detail in it that gave away the whole thing.
Some have speculated that Donald Trump’s military Generals may have written his Afghanistan speech for him. But here’s how you know that wasn’t the case: Trump referred to the “Prime Minister of Afghanistan” even though there is no such person, and there hasn’t been for several decades. Afghanistan has a President named Ashraf Ghani. All of Trump’s Generals, from John F. Kelly to James Mattis to H.R. McMaster, would know this detail too intimately, and consider it to be too important, to get it wrong. So who the heck wrote Trump’s speech?
We know it wasn’t the recently fired Steve Bannon. Was this the handiwork of Jared Kushner? He’s one of the people who helped get Bannon ousted. Does this mean Kushner is back in Trump’s good graces? If not him, then who did write this nonsense? It was intended to sound authoritative in a military sense, but it was too simplistic and vapid to have come from anyone with a sound understanding of the military or foreign policy. But it was certainly written by one of Trump’s remaining clowns, and not any of the adults in the room. If Trump had bothered to put a finalized copy of his speech in front of even one of his Generals or their staffs, they’d have flagged the “Prime Minister” goof. Not only did the Generals not write it, they didn’t even see it.
And so even as some mainstream media pundits took the bait on Monday night and declared that Donald Trump was finally acting “presidential,” they missed the key detail that gave away that Trump is still relying on his remaining clowns. And when Trump resumes tweeting toxic garbage in a day or two, those pundits will be made to look foolish.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report