If Trump is the Republican id, this exchange between Laura Ingraham and Krauthammer is a dialogue between the ego and superego. Ingraham, a nationalist, is all about the agenda. Was Trump’s presser today a good thing? Well, she says, he made some solid points — but it wasn’t useful. It didn’t advance the ball on policy. Krauthammer, a conservative, isn’t interested in that right now. Was it moral, he asks? Was it right?
I wonder how many variations of this exchange are playing out within the administration tonight. Watch this quickie clip of Chuck Todd speculating that John Kelly’s going to end up having to talk people out of quitting over today’s spectacle. Um, I doubt it. Since when do Republicans balk at anything Trump does?
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) August 15, 2017
Kelly himself is reportedly not a happy man this evening:
Uh-oh a source tells @SaraMurray new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is very frustrated with how today played out.
— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) August 15, 2017
He looked every inch of it standing off to Trump’s side during today’s presser.
Oh — this guy was unhappy too. I know, I know: He’s a cuck.
No, not the same. One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) August 16, 2017
Somehow the back and forth between Ingraham and Krauthammer ends with them debating whether Trump’s statement yesterday, in which he denounced white nationalists after hedging on Saturday, reflects what’s actually in his heart or not. If you don’t believe the reporting on that, just watch the guy talk. When Trump is reading from a script, it’s abundantly clear. He speaks more slowly and his sentences are conspicuously more measured than when he’s rat-a-tat riffing on his thoughts, as he obviously was today. What happened the past few days isn’t complicated. He softballed his comments about the alt-right on Saturday, was cajoled by his aides into saying something more emphatic about them yesterday, then resented the fact that he’d been pressured into clarifying his remarks and decided to double down on the “both sides” point today off the cuff. Yesterday’s statement almost amounted to an apology for Saturday’s comments, and you know how Trump feels about apologies. Today he un-apologized.