I apologize for not having covered this earlier today, but I’ve been traveling today and not really able to watch the news. Besides, I figured, what do I care what Donald Trump has to say about foreign policy this week? After all, if he actually says anything momentous, then he’ll just change it 72 hours later and his supporters won’t care. Overall, I have better things to do with my time than listen to Donald Trump’s ill-informed word salad oratories about pretty much any subject, but especially about foreign policy.
I happened to catch about a 20 second clip of the speech when someone Facebooked the bit about him mispronouncing Tanzania (which was, admittedly, hilarious). But the mispronunciation of Tanzania wasn’t what caught me, it was how truly and spectacularly awful Trump’s delivery was. “Holy cow,” I thought to myself. “Was the whole thing that bad?”
It turns out, it was. If you’ve just read the text of this speech, and you think you know what happened, you’ve done yourself a disservice. Sure, the things he actually said were unserious and widely panned, but that isn’t news. It would be news if Donald Trump gave a speech that wasn’t unserious and widely panned. What’s remarkable about this speech is how awkward and unconvincing Trump looked while giving it.
Here, I pulled 90 seconds from this speech, totally at random. If you can’t suffer through the whole thing, at least watch this much, so you can see what I’m talking about:
This is a person who has no clue what he is saying, other than the fact that the words he is speaking have been placed on a TelePrompTer in front of his face. Donald Trump could have pulled the Ron Burgundy experiment on him and he would have closed this speech with “Go f*** yourselves, Indiana!”
I don’t really know if Team Trump plans to try to get Trump to use TelePrompTers more often in the future, but I sure hope they do. See, I think doing so is a humongous mistake for Trump – especially if the words they are going to put on the TelePrompTer for him to read aren’t going to be any more serious than they were before.
See, the whole appeal of Trump, to his supporters, is that he says things with total confidence. The fact that they are complete and utter nonsense – like for instance the idea that Trump is going to fix the massive operating deficit of the United States government by negotiating more trade deals – is completely beside the point. Trump supporters for the most part do not understand policy well enough to know whether what he’s saying is actually true or not. All they are doing is responding to an authoritative tone and air of competence – in other words, almost exactly the same way dogs choose whether to obey a human being or not.
Forcing Trump into a mode of communication where it becomes immediately obvious – even to his supporters – that he has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about and is just playing the puppet on a string, reading words aloud that he barely understands, completely destroys that image. Sure, one speech delivered like this isn’t going to hurt him with his core supporters, but if this becomes the default Trump, I can’t imagine that he’s going to get many wagging tails for very long. And neither, apparently, will it suffice to broaden his appeal beyond his current base of support either, if the reaction to his speech today is any indicator.
If I were advising Trump, and I actually wanted him to win, I would basically roll the dice on Trump being Trump all the way through November (if he gets that far). It’s too late to change him in any meaningful sense without destroying him with the 25% of the country that can stand the sight of his dumb, orange face.