Donald Trump did an interview with Axios’ Jonathan Swan, which published last night. Why he did the interview is anyone’s guess. It’s political malpractice to put Trump in front of someone the campaign knows is going to be a hostile interviewer. Would Joe Biden do such an interview? Of course he wouldn’t, and he’s smart not to do so. Republicans, even Trump, continue to allow themselves to play by different rules when it comes to the media and I simply don’t understand why.
I'd like to see @JoeBiden do a solo, extended, uninterrupted interview with @JonathanVSwan and see what happens. Swan is a lot like Chris Wallace and it's why he's on Fox panels. When I'd watch shows like 'Hardball,' he'd be the lone voice not going over the cliff.
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) August 4, 2020
But regardless, the interview happened and their were two notable moments which are now trending.
One has to do with the coronavirus, in which Swan brought up Germany as a comparison to our numbers. Why he didn’t use Spain, Italy, the UK, The Netherlands, or Europe as a whole is obvious. Doing so would show the U.S. response and its results are not unique but are fairly expected given our governmental system (we have constitutional freedoms) and diversity. Instead, he chose Germany and South Korea to play gotcha with because they’ve done uniquely well.
.@jonathanvswan: “Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the U.S. is really bad. Much worse than South Korea, Germany, etc.”@realdonaldtrump: “You can’t do that.”
Swan: “Why can’t I do that?” pic.twitter.com/MStySfkV39
— Axios (@axios) August 4, 2020
Trump is actually right at the end when he says deaths are going down in Florida. Swan chose to sarcastically suggest they aren’t. Deaths had dropped on July 24th-27th when this interview took place on July 28th. He’s also right when he says deaths have precipitously dropped across the country even though case load has skyrocketed, with some of that being due to more testing. But the media, and many on the right for that matter, thought this was a major flub by Trump. You be the judge.
The next moment that got people’s juices flowing was the discussion of John Lewis. Though Trump would eventually say something positive about the now deceased Congressman, it took about a minute for him to do so. That upset a lot of people.
for fucks sake https://t.co/MyFEQdZlYX
— Ben McDonald (@Bmac0507) August 4, 2020
He's so awful. https://t.co/2TXkptmTFg
— Noam Blum (@neontaster) August 4, 2020
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) August 4, 2020
I’m torn on this, because there’s a difference between what I would do and what is objectively “awful” or immoral. Is it immoral to not praise a man in death who was a deeply vicious adversary before his death? Would John Lewis have ever praised Donald Trump in death? Would he have attended his funeral? I have my doubts, and I don’t think anyone would have been upset by that either.
My friend Ellie Bufkin from over at Townhall gave her opinion on the matter, and I think our exchange sums up my feelings.
Why are people honestly acting like Trump saying bonkers Trump things to Axios is a big deal? “He wouldn’t say anything nice about John Lewis!” “He won’t say COVID numbers are abysmal!”
Yeah, no duh.
— Ellie Bufkin (@ellie_bufkin) August 4, 2020
Me too. I’d rather not be gaslit. Everyone on the right swooned over GWB’s speech, but all it did was remind me how much of a vicious person Lewis was to someone as fair and conciliatory as him. Politics is always nasty. It’s just a matter of who will lie to you about it or not.
— Bonchie (@bonchieredstate) August 4, 2020
Lewis did great things in the 1960s to work toward racial equality. He also spent decades after that being such an incredibly mean-spirited, unfair public figure that he couldn’t even help himself from vilifying someone as milquetoast and conciliatory as George W. Bush. That’s politics and I think I prefer my politicians not to lie to me about how things really are for the sake of faux decorum. That doesn’t mean Lewis himself should be vilified in death, and Trump didn’t do that. It’s perfectly proper to focus on the good in death. Bush chose to take the high road in his paying his respects, but I also don’t think there’s an obligation to pretend reality wasn’t actually reality.
People will have different opinions on that, and that’s fine. I do think it’s a bit silly to jump to some of the hyperbole being used given what we actually know about how the bread is buttered in Washington. These people hate each other, and Lewis hated Trump with every fiber of his being. I wouldn’t expect Trump to shower praise on him in death, though I would expect him to avoid directly insulting him, which he’s so far done.
So there you go. The two moments people are freaking out over from an interview that will be forgotten about by tomorrow.