In case you are just now waking up from a coma, let me tell you what happened Wednesday at Donald Trump’s first press conference as president-elect. (Yes, that Donald Trump! He will be the next president!)
First, he has decided that his official position on the kinds of conflicts of interest that might arise if he kept running his business while president is that If The President Does It, It Is No Conflict. Thus, any steps he takes to take his business out of his hands are from the simple, self-sacrificing kindness of his heart. Why, just the other day, someone offered him $2 billion to do a deal in Dubai! Two billion dollars! And would you believe it: He didn’t take it. His point is, we should be grateful. As he repeatedly stressed, he doesn’t have to do this! This whole president thing — it’s really a big pain, and he doesn’t have to do it at all! (In fact, I wish he wouldn’t.)
He will not release his tax returns, as the results of the election clearly demonstrated that they are of no interest to anyone but reporters. And nuts to reporters, is he right?
He had no comment on The Horrid Unsourced Thing We Aren’t Supposed To Write About, other than that (a) he knows that there are tiny, tiny cameras in every single hotel room when you go abroad and always conducts himself accordingly (does this raise more questions than it answers?) (b) the aide in question never went to Prague and (c) he is a noted germaphobe, not the Greek God Zeus. He could not believe that BuzzFeed would publish such a thing.
If, like a far larger percentage of America than anticipated, I were the sort of person who believed in conspiracy theories, I would speculate that this bizarre and lascivious leak were all an elaborate scheme to allow him to shut down one whole news outlet right off the bat, but — I do not actually think this. (Still, might as well start a conspiracy theory that doesn’t result in people showing up with guns at pizza places. Run with it, Reddit!)
He shouted down a CNN reporter (maybe mistaking him for a BuzzFeed reporter) and said he would not take his question because he was “fake news.” He also took the time to call BuzzFeed a “failing pile of garbage,” which, I guess, is better than a successful pile of garbage and could in fact mean that BuzzFeed is an excellent news source.
The press conference was interrupted by his lawyer, who read us a long bedtime story about what he plans to do about his clear conflicts of interest, besides wave his hand and insist “There is no conflict,” Vader-style. Trump’s business is going to be put into a trust and his two sons will run it, and he will not tell them how, and an ethics adviser will follow them around to ensure that they never discuss business, ever. That ethics adviser is going to have a great life for the next few years, third-wheeling awkwardly from yacht to plane to meeting, with a finger held constantly to his or her lips.
About the Wall
In answering a question about The Wall, Trump also took time to reminisce about the wonderful times he used to have at his rallies, how big the crowds were and how they used to do a call and response together about the wall and who would build it. (How young he and America were then! How many careless promises they made to one another! How many protesters they forcibly removed! Will they ever recapture those lost moments, when he and America were fools in love in festive hats, before he was forced to move into this ugly house in the middle of a swamp and do something with America’s taxes and buy it a new cabinet and stop romping through the world ogling beauty pageant contestants in theory kind of maybe? This is not what the first blush of their romance promised at all.)
Repeal, replace the pieces
Trump also said that he had a terrific, great, wonderful plan to repeal Obamacare and replace it with another plan, Repeal and Replace, which would repeal Obamacare and replace it with another plan, Repeal and Replace, which would repeal Obamacare and replace it with another — well, look, the plan is going to be great, and it will repeal Obamacare but one piece at a time and will replace those pieces with other pieces. (If you could make heads or tails of this answer, please, leave me a voicemail.)
He reiterated his hope that he would get along with Russia, although he is no fool like Hillary Clinton and will definitely not hand Russia a plastic button like a chump. Not Trump! He will just constantly praise Vladimir Putin, shrug at the idea that Russia might have dirt on him or want to influence the election in any way, like a smart person who knows how the world works. Sure, Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee, but then again so many other people and things also do hacking, and besides, it was the DNC’s fault for wearing such a revealing server.
He also praised the performance of his cabinet nominees at their hearings, making it seem as though he had not been watching the part of Rex Tillerson’s hearing in which he testified about, loosely speaking, how the Russian regime was creepy.
He concluded with a flourish, announcing that if his sons did a bad job running the business, after eight years he would tell them “You’re fired!” — which could possibly invalidate everything he said earlier about how he would not tell them what to do. But, look, he’s the president, and, again, he doesn’t have to do this.
If you were in fact in a coma until just now, it might be best to see if you can get back into it as soon as possible.
Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of “A Field Guide to Awkward Silences.”