To the New York Times.
Much of it is almost unintelligible rambling. This is consistent with my view of the type of leader that Trump is: in his mind, he is quite clear. He has a vision of several steps ahead – often beyond what most people can see – but he gets lost in the telling. To describe his vision requires many parentheticals, hyphens, and semi-colons. All very clear in his head, but not easy for such a personality to put into succinct words.
Which makes him completely unsuitable for politics where sound bites and simple concepts win the day. Where long-term planning is an unknown concept. Where problems demand complex and unpopular solutions but re-election requires simplistic sound-bites and putting the hard choices off for “later.”
So I understand his rambling – not that I fully understand what he is saying, but I understand where it is coming from.
Another significant portion of the interview is anathema to anyone favoring smaller government – to say nothing of libertarian thinking. But this is already well-known.
Instead, I will focus on the few things where he spoke clearly and that could be seen as favorable for those who applaud any movement by government away from force and coercion. All emphasis added is mine.
I’m looking at it very closely, Tom. I’ll tell you what. I have an open mind to it. We’re going to look very carefully. It’s one issue that’s interesting because there are few things where there’s more division than climate change. You don’t tend to hear this, but there are people on the other side of that issue…
He went to the emails – something that I don’t recall any significant political figure ever addressing:
I know we have, they say they have science on one side but then they also have those horrible emails that were sent between the scientists. Where was that, in Geneva or wherever five years ago? Terrible. Where they got caught, you know, so you see that and you say, what’s this all about.
Conspiracy theory stated as conspiracy fact by the President-elect of the United States!
Finally, this topic cannot be discussed without addressing economic competitiveness. I think this not so important, but given the importance Trump has placed on manufacturing jobs, etc., it may actually influence his thinking:
It also depends on how much it’s going to cost our companies. You have to understand, our companies are noncompetitive right now.
Trump is not a fan of wind farms:
First of all, we don’t make the windmills in the United States. They’re made in Germany and Japan. They’re made out of massive amounts of steel, which goes into the atmosphere, whether it’s in our country or not, it goes into the atmosphere. The windmills kill birds and the windmills need massive subsidies. In other words, we’re subsidizing wind mills all over this country. I mean, for the most part they don’t work. I don’t think they work at all without subsidy, and that bothers me, and they kill all the birds.
Trump states the obvious – so-called green energy is not as green as advertised.
I wouldn’t want to subsidize it.
I hope he concludes this regarding Tesla.
I don’t think we should be a nation builder.
I think Bush the younger said the same thing. This view didn’t last long.
I think going into Iraq was one of the great mistakes in the history of our country.
Other than Ron Paul, no republican candidate for president has said such a thing (maybe Rand, I don’t know).
He mocked Lindsey Graham – an absolute good no matter the context:
I had to listen to [Senator] Lindsey Graham, who, give me a break. I had to listen to Lindsey Graham talk about, you know, attacking Syria and attacking, you know, and it’s like you’re now attacking Russia, you’re attacking Iran, you’re attacking. And what are we getting?
Trump actually acknowledges some empathy for the people murdered by US aggression:
To look at the deaths, and I’m not just talking deaths on our side, which are horrible, but the deaths — I mean you look at these cities, Arthur, where they’re totally, they’re rubble, massive areas, and they say two people were injured. No, thousands of people have died. O.K. And I think it’s a shame.
I would love to be able to get along with Russia and I think they’d like to be able to get along with us. It’s in our mutual interest.
Trump was asked a more detailed question about what he would do about Syria. For this, they went off the record, so we do not have his response recorded.
So, I met with General Mattis…. He is being seriously, seriously considered for secretary of defense…. I met with him at length and I asked him that question. I said, what do you think of waterboarding? He said — I was surprised — he said, ‘I’ve never found it to be useful.’ He said, ‘I’ve always found, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I do better with that than I do with torture.’ And I was very impressed by that answer.
That’s it. That’s the extent of the good stuff.
Finally, one topic of many where Trump was wishy-washy athough reports have come out that he was unequivocal. The very first question asked by a reporter during the interview was regarding the prosecution of Hillary Clinton. It is worthy of note that this was the first question asked when the floor was opened to reporters.
On the morning of the interview, Kellyanne Conway announced that Trump would not pursue prosecution. Despite the reports from the press that Trump was unequivocal about this view, I do not read it in his statement.
Let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth:
TRUMP: Well, there was a report that somebody said that I’m not enthused about it. Look, I want to move forward, I don’t want to move back. And I don’t want to hurt the Clintons. I really don’t.
MATTHEW PURDY, deputy managing editor: So you’re definitively taking that off the table? The investigation?
TRUMP: No, but the question was asked.
PURDY: About the emails and the foundation?
TRUMP: No, no, but it’s just not something that I feel very strongly about.
He isn’t taking it off the table; he just doesn’t feel strongly about it. Followed by an even looser statement:
…you know we’ll have people that do things but my inclination would be, for whatever power I have on the matter, is to say let’s go forward [not looking back at the Clinton’s transgressions].
For a man who ran on his ability to Make America Great Again, there is something not quite right in stating “for whatever power I have on the matter.”
It is obvious why press reports claim that he has taken prosecution off of the table; this way, if the case proceeds they can label him a liar.
I don’t think such a prosecution will happen. But I don’t read in Trump’s words that he has excluded the possibility.
Of course, words, words, words – little here is different than what has been offered by Trump’s predecessors before they entered office (although his comments on the climate-gate emails were refreshing), so time will tell.
Even if Trump is sincere on some of these points, there will be many forces working against him, many forces that will create events to force his hand in ways that Trump might not otherwise choose.
Look, I never promised you a rose garden.