Sunday, December 31, 2017

Michael Schmidt, Presidential Publicist

Charlie Pierce, who says "over the past 30 years, I've seen my faher and all of his siblings slide into the shadows and fog of Alzheimer's Disease," observed in Thursday's interview by the New York Times' Michael Schmidt

the president* is only intermittently coherent. He talks in semi-sentences and is always groping for something that sounds familiar, even if it makes no sense whatsoever and even if it blatantly contradicts something he said two minutes earlier. To my ears, anyway, this is more than the president*’s well-known allergy to the truth. This is a classic coping mechanism employed when language skills are coming apart. (My father used to give a thumbs up when someone asked him a question. That was one of the strategies he used to make sense of a world that was becoming quite foreign to him.) My guess? That’s part of the reason why it’s always “the failing New York Times,” and his 2016 opponent is “Crooked Hillary."

In addition, the president* exhibits the kind of stubbornness you see in patients when you try to relieve them of their car keys—or, as one social worker in rural North Carolina told me, their shotguns. For example, a discussion on healthcare goes completely off the rails when the president* suddenly recalls that there is a widely held opinion that he knows very little about the issues confronting the nation

He adds "This is more than simple grandiosity. This is someone fighting something happening to him that he is losing the capacity to understand."  "So, no," he asserts, "I don’t particularly care whether Michael Schmidt was tough enough, or asked enough follow-up questions... We've got bigger problems."

The day after its reporter's chat with the President, the Times fact-checker weighed in with "10 Falsehoods from Trump's Interview with the Times." Though a good follow-up, it was insufficient for American citizens and voters given the tone and thread of Schmidt's interview because the Times chose to publish only excerpts.

Early on, Schmidt asks "but does that (not knowing when Mueller's probe will end) bother you? ands "But you’re not worked up about the timing" of Mueller's probe?  (This took place a day before Papadopoulos' role in initiation of the investigation was revealed.) He says of lawyer Alan Dershowitz (who has been on Fox News and elsewhere claiming there is no collusion) "He's been very good to you?"

Trump says of the senior West Virginia senator, "Joe's a nice guy," to which Schmidt responds "he is a very nice guy" and adds of West Virginia "it's a very popular place for you."

If you're wondering who talks like this, you've never been a parent coddling and encouraging her child as Schmidt does Trump.

Moreover, Schmidt successfully prompts Trump to repeat his campaign and presidential themes. "You would have run completely differently" were there no electoral college, he tells Trump, as well as the latter's catchphrase "believe me."

When the President remarks Paul Manafort "worked for me for — what was it, three and a half months?" Schmidt helpfully answers his question "a very short period of time."  When Trump fumbles around claiming that the probe is a political stunt, the reporter- sensing what Trump was fishing for- adds "dossier?"

After Trump claimed Democrats "made the Russian story up as a hoax, as a ruse, as an excuse for losing an election," Schmidt assisted him by responding  "So they had to do this to come after you, to undercut you?"

More seriously, immediately prior to asking "should they reopen that email investigation," Schmidt remarks "you control the Justice Department."

That's not President Trump insisting he controls the Justice Department, though he readily agreed. That was the reporter who inaccurately told a would-be authoritarian that he controls the Justice Department. This is The New York Times, the "all the news that's fit to print" New York Times.

The New York Times must release the full transcript. As Pierce suggests, we have on our hands a president, like Reagan 41, in the early throes of Alzheimer's Disease.  The press covered up the infirmities of John F. Kennedy and Franklin D.  Roosevelt decades ago. These are perilous times, and no time for the reputedly greatest newspaper of all to mimic congressional Republicans and become a doormat for a dangerous President.

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