For a year and a half I’ve been disturbed by what Donald Trump’s been saying, and since his Electoral College victory over Hillary Clinton I’ve at times been mortified by his hot pie hole and big tweeter. Only this week have I learned, from Kellyanne Conway, that I shouldn’t have believed what he said, I should instead have focused on what is in his heart. Since what most people repeatedly say is a good way to determine what’s inside, this comment by the president-elect’s advisor confused me. However, when charming Kellyanne smiles into a camera I think less about politics and more about what would please her, so I at once called and asked her to please get me an interview with the heart of Donald J. Trump. She agreed, and that evening I met with the Trump ticker.
George Thomas Clark – You’re a big heart, as one would expect from a hefty man of limitless ambition. I’d like to begin by asking what your heart really feels about Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights hero from the sixties and one of the Freedom Riders, who your mouth said was all talk, talk, talk when he questioned your qualifications to be president.
Heart of Trump – Forty years ago, when I was a young businessman, my father and I declined to rent apartments to blacks. If John Lewis had applied, I’d have turned his ass down, too. Remember, we didn’t have to admit any wrongdoing in the lawsuit, we just paid a little dough.
GTC – Do you still feel the United States needs to build a massive wall along its border with Mexico? In his Senate confirmation testimony, your future head of the Department of Homeland Security, General John Kelly, said he doesn’t think it would be helpful to build a wall and that economic conditions must improve in Latin America in order to permanently alleviate the need for desperate people to enter the U.S. illegally.
HoT – General Kelly’s saying what’s necessary to be confirmed. He’s also a soldier and understands the chain of command. If I consider a wall necessary, I’ll build a wall.
GTC – What if, as seems likely, Congress tells you it doesn’t have the money and Mexico continues to tell you to shove it.
HoT – I’ll be deporting so many criminals, and frankly many other illegal aliens, like those at businesses I bust, that I’ll be able to say, “Look at my toughness and control. We don’t need a wall as big as I first thought.” I’ll get the money to build something, even if it’s only symbolic.
GTC – Are you still planning a massive registration of all Muslim immigrants? General Kelly doesn’t believe “it’s ever appropriate to focus on religion.”
HoT – A couple more terrorist attacks here or in Europe will give me the leverage I need to suppress civil liberties. General Kelly will either go along or I’ll fire him.
GTC – You’ve said you plan to use waterboarding and a hell of a lot tougher torture on suspected terrorists. About that, your nominees for attorney general and CIA chief, Sen. Jeff Sessions and Rep. Mike Pompeo, have respectively testified “absolutely illegal” and “absolutely not.”
HoT – If I believe I can save American lives by twisting critical information out of terrorists, that’s what’s gonna happen. Period.
GTC – The United States has a one-China policy that you seemed to undermine when you accepted a congratulatory phone call from the Taiwanese president.
HoT – I take calls from whoever I want. That’s none of China’s business. It’s our business that the Chinese improve their greedy trade policies and aggressive military behavior in the South China Sea.
GTC – You’ve often praised President Vladimir Putin and don’t appear concerned about Russian annexation of Crimea and military incursions in eastern Ukraine.
HoT – I’ll keep some sanctions for now, but if our relations improve I’ll remove the sanctions. Those who say Putin’s a war criminal don’t know the man or the difficulties he faces.
GTC – Do you think he’s worried about NATO’s expansion around western Russian during the last twenty years?
HoT – Of course he is. We wouldn’t tolerate that kind of threat looming around us. And I’m tired of Americans paying to maintain that military threat. Let the Europeans pay a fair share of their defense. They’ve got more money and people than we do.
GTC – General James Mattis, your pick to run the Department of Defense, testified that Putin’s trying to break up NATO, and “history proves nations with strong allies thrive and those without them wither.”
HoT – We’ve never had a president who’s got the natural feel for Russia and its president that I have. Let’s be friends with Russia like we were during World War II. I can make that happen because I sense Vladimir Putin and I are going to understand each other.
GTC – Why haven’t you discussed Russia yet with Rex Tillerson, your nominee for secretary of state?
HoT – We haven’t had time. I trust Russia and so does Rex Tillerson. That’s where we start.
GTC – Tillerson said global warming exists.
HoT – If enough Republicans line up on that side, I’ll pivot and say yeah, it exists. Whatever’s politically expedient, that’s what I’ll say.