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On Wednesday, April 12, Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo interviewed Donald Trump about the Syrian airstrike from the week before. He described telling Xi Jinping, President of China, that he had just ordered a military strike on a Syrian airbase while they were having dessert at Mar-a-Lago. To make a long story short, he managed to remember what cake they were eating, then promptly bungled the name of the country he attacked. Here’s the video.
Before the Cake
Trump ordered the strike while they were at dinner. Bartiromo asked him if he’d planned that timing. It’s an interesting question, as Xi was at Mar-a-Lago to discuss trade and North Korea with Trump. There’s speculation that this attack was planned as a show of force, to tell Xi he’s not messing around. There’s also speculation that the strike was meant to distract people from the Russian collusion investigations, which are really heating up.
But Trump responded, “I have watched speculation for three days now on what that was like.” So, he instead described how it felt to eat dinner at Mar-a-Lago while committing an act of war abroad.
Oh, and he also said he would tell Bartiromo “only because you’ve treated me so good for so long.” Maybe he would’ve told other networks if they hadn’t been rudely reporting on his inconsistencies, conflicts of interest, and appeals to white supremacists. But of course, they’re fake news, unlike the trustworthy journalists at Fox.
The Cake Itself
Then came the first moment that left people scratching their heads. Trump was preparing to discuss what it felt like to tell President Jinping that he’d ordered a strike on Syria. He began, “I was sitting at the table, we had finished dinner, we’re now having dessert. And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen, and President Xi was enjoying it.” A journalist would want to know the effect the news had on his meetings with Xi. Average citizens would probably want to know the same thing. Trump instead boasted about the awesome cake he and Xi ate.
Incidentally, according to the Miami Herald, restaurant inspectors noted 13 health code violations at Mar-a-Lago. The coolers for raw meat are not cold enough and not even “in proper working order.” Worse, “fish designed to be served raw or undercooked … had not undergone proper parasite destruction.” This is not even unusual for the restaurant. Makes you wonder about the cake’s cooking conditions.
It seems he returned to the point, describing how he consulted with generals and ordered the strike before dinner. He then said, “And I said, ‘Mr. President, let me explain something to you’” – an ironic order, as Xi later had to lecture Trump on the complexities of the North Korea situation. And then he went back to the cake, saying about his explanation, “This is during dessert.” He emphasized it, as if he enjoys being able to rain destruction while eating sweets. The internet only fixated on it because he fixated on it first.
The Grand Reveal
Then, finally, came the dramatic reveal of what he told Xi. Oh, wait, never mind: Trump did not say it right away. Journalists get to the point immediately, and leaders (ideally) tell their followers only the pertinent information. However, Trump’s a showman, so he knows the importance of building suspense. The cake was just the beginning.
Trump mentioned he told Xi he’d just launched 59 missiles, then went on a tangent about how every missile hit the base. Then he bragged that our technology is “better than anybody by a factor by 5.”Then he rambled about how the military had been gutted by “the previous administration” and the Iraq War, which he again called a “disaster.” He said this, though the war did the opposite of gutting the military and President Barack Obama ended that “disaster.” Of course, facts don’t matter to Trump if lies make him look better than Obama.
Once he got back to the point, again, he proudly told Bartiromo the grand reveal. “So what happens is, I said, ‘We just launched 59 missiles headed to Iraq.”
Bartiromo immediately stammered, “Whu- whu- ‘Headed to Shyria.’” For one second – an hour on TV, and even longer online with the pause button – Trump just stared. You can see the wheels turning in his head. Should I go with my instincts and respond to a journalist’s correction with a firm “Wrong”? No, wait, it was Syria, wasn’t it? Shit. Better say yes, as if I was just testing her. And better not thank her for catching that, either. Donald Trump never makes mistakes. So, he said, “Yes. Headed to Syria,” as if he’s retroactively editing what he said.
After the Reveal
No other screw-ups happen after that. Trump just does some further damage control, says they’d had a long day, mentions again that they were having dessert. Then he finally answers the question of what Xi thought. He proudly concluded, “He was okay with it.” Trump once again mentioned that he bombed the airbase for the poor children and babies afflicted by the Syrian government’s chemical attack on April 4. You know, the same children denied refugee status by Trump’s unconstitutional and racist immigration bans, which forced them to stay in Syria, where they were eventually killed or wounded in the chemical attacks by the government they were trying to escape.
Incidentally, that “grand reveal” wouldn’t even have been news to Bartiromo and the audience. The fact that he launched 59 missiles was something everyone was talking about for a week. It’s more of a grand punchline. After bragging about getting past the disastrous Iraq War, he bragged about bombing Iraq. After building up a story about looking like a badass to Xi, he looked like a moron to everyone. And after remembering the exact kind of dessert served at the meeting, he forgot which nation he bombed.
For reference, this was after six days of extensive media coverage. And Trump’s media consumption habits are well-known.
Trump’s been making stupid mistakes since before he became president. How about a throwback to when he tweeted the wrong inauguration date?