Ttwo generations ago, Richard Nixon transpired to lose the very first presidential debate on television to the benefit of a young, fit and cool, John F. Kennedy.
It was the kind of rookie mistake one could attribute to the novelty of television.
So how do you explain – 60 years later – the soaked sweat that ran down the face of the reality star who now lives in the White House?
Of the very little that Donald Trump is supposed to know in minimal detail, television sits right at the top. There are more historic crises that challenge his presidency than cable news channels, but that doesn’t stop him from tweeting on all the television he watches all day.
For a man who still measures his manhood by his own television audiences, it was a curious choice to sit outside in the damp steam of a Washington summer, covered in his bright orange makeup, to answer pesky questions. for Best Interviewer on Fox News.
“Hot enough for you here, Mr. President?” asked Chris Wallace.
“It’s hot,” Trump said. “This is, well, some kind of almost record stuff. “
“You know, we wanted to do it indoors,” Wallace replied. “This is your choice. “
Trump has made so many more blunders in a row than not preparing for his double-sided grilling by the weather and Wallace. But this gracious interview laid bare how the wicked wizard of the West Wing melts before our eyes.
For the past four years, we’ve been told that populist leaders – this one in particular – are outstanding showmen: experts not in government but in distracting public attention.
His pithy nicknames and slogans are said to have destroyed his rivals in 2016. They came up with 12 point plans as he went on to make America great again. He threatened North Korea with his big nuclear button, then fell in love with the North Korean leader at a summit held just for the cameras.
But now his repeated attempts to smear Joe Biden have failed and the great showman has reportedly asked aides if he should try to come up with another nickname.
With each new poll showing him losing the election, both nationally and across the battlefield states, Trump’s desperation flowed through all his pores in Sunday’s interview.
When asked if Biden was senile, Trump responded with the kind of half-baked half-thoughts of a mind slowly baking in the heat of the presidency. “I would say that he is not competent to be president,” he warmed up. “To be president you have to be sharp and tough and so many other things. “
What are these so many other things?
“He doesn’t even come out of his basement. They think, “Oh, this is a great campaign. So he enters. “
We didn’t know who they were or what he was getting into. But that seemed quite clear to our hard-nosed and tough president, which is many other things as well.
“I will then make a speech. It will be an excellent speech. And a young man begins to write, “Vice President Biden said this, this, this. He didn’t say it. Joe doesn’t know he’s alive, okay? He doesn’t know he’s alive. ”
It can be tempting to throw all this on the young man whose writing clearly leaves something to be desired.
But it is the old man of the Ring who should worry us. He doesn’t know he’s dying there.
There are of course some clues. There was the disastrous riot of a photo shoot with a pretty bible and a ton of tear gas. There was a Tulsa rally for a million people who did not show up. There was this strange speech from Mount Rushmore about fascists saying mean things about racists.
Again, as Chris Wallace pointed out, there are surveys that show that this desperate act is not working. And there’s the whole endless video of our sharp, tough president predicting the pandemic would go away, like a miracle, with a little disinfectant injected inside. Or maybe some bright light.
“I’ll be right in the end,” Trump insisted when confronted with his own comments about the coronavirus. “I will finally be right. You know, I said, “It’s going to go away.” I say it again. ”
They say that a stopped clock is right twice a day. But this broken timepiece will only be happy when all the clocks are stopped.
At this point in Trump’s Twilight Zone, audiences have a good idea of the plot twists to come over the next four months. It consists of as much concocted chaos as possible.
There will be terrorist protesters in every major city, driven from the streets by Trump’s paramilitaries in rented minivans. Thank goodness we have minions armed with machine guns to protect us from all this graffiti.
There will be immigrant caravans filled with coronaviruses climbing the freshly painted border wall, which has done a fantastic job of protecting us all from the pandemic.
After Nixon sweated to defeat Kennedy, he returned to win the presidency eight years later with a law enforcement campaign that promised to end civil rights protests and stop enforcing laws on human rights. civil rights.
Our Trumpified version of Tricky Dick is a little less subtle than the original.
He claimed that the people flying the Confederate flag “were not talking about racism”. But when asked to remove the names of Confederate Generals from U.S. military bases, Trump could only think of race. And weird stuff about some world wars.
“Are we going to name him after Reverend Al Sharpton?” What are you going to call him, Chris? Tell me what you’re going to call it, ”Trump stammered.
“So there’s a whole thing here. We won two world wars, two world wars, beautiful world wars that were vicious and horrible. And we won them at Fort Bragg. We won from all these forts that now they want to throw these names away.
Ah yes, these beautiful world wars. So vicious and horrible. All at the same time. As the man says, there is indeed quite a thing here.
“Let Biden have an interview like this,” Trump said at another point. “He will be on the ground crying for mom. He’ll say, ‘Mum, mama, please take me home.’ ”
In his childish way, Trump thought he was proving his take on senility, sharpness, and tenacity. And so many other things.
But with each new interview, it looks like he is simply asking his mom to bring him home.