Donald Trump’s amazingly clumsy “clarification” of what he said in Helsinki brings to mind a stellar campaign promise he made while running for president in 2016.
The told us he would surround himself with the “best people” and he would speak to us using the “best words.”
Zero for two?
Yes, he has some good folks in key places. Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis is a good one; so is Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; I’ll put United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley in that crowd, too. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has possibilities.
Many of the rest of them? Not the “best.” Not by a long shot.
How about those “best words” Trump pledged? Let’s turn our attention to that Helsinki clown show that unfolded before the entire world at the beginning of the week.
There was Donald Trump standing alongside Vladimir Putin, the former KGB chief spook who serves as Russia’s president.
A reporter asked the president whether he doubted U.S. intelligence assessments that Russia attacked our democratic process. Trump said he spoke with Dan Coats, that he accepts the intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia interfered in our election, but that Putin had offered a “strong and powerful denial.”
Then he said, “I don’t know why they (the Russians) would” interfere.
To borrow a phrase: Oops!
More than 24 hours later, Trump convened a Cabinet meeting and declared he meant to say “wouldn’t” instead of “would.” He then made the term “double negative” famous around the world.
I’ll inject here that Donald J. Trump made sure reporters heard him praise Putin’s “powerful” denial of election interference during that joint appearance in Helsinki.
That is how the president “misspoke”? I do not think so.
Nor do I believe he uses the “best words” to convey whatever message he wants heard.