A fun and fitting note on which to end a week dominated by a book stuffed to the gills with dubious axe-grinding by Trump frenemies. Scarborough has an op-ed in WaPo today recounting a chat he had with POTUS before the GOP primaries, when they were still friendly. The topic: Can Donald Trump read?
Morning Joe’s horror at his own doubt radiates from the page:
An email Wolff describes as “purporting to represent the views” of chief economic adviser Gary Cohn neatly summarizes what campaign workers and White House staff have been telling me about Trump for two years. He is an “idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won’t read anything — not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored. And his staff is no better.”
Mika Brzezinski and I had a tense meeting with Trump following what I considered to be a bumbling debate performance in September 2015. I asked the candidate a blunt question.
“Can you read?”
“I’m serious, Donald. Do you read?” I continued. “If someone wrote you a one-page paper on a policy, could you read it?”
Taken aback, Trump quietly responded that he could while holding up a Bible given to him by his mother. He then joked that he read it all the time.
“Wolff’s terrifying political tome adds weight to a growing body of evidence that the Manhattan billionaire is temperamentally unfit to serve,” Scarborough intones. What have we done, handing the nuclear codes to a man without the intelligence or the attention span, or both, to digest complex ideas in written form?
Now watch the clip below from December 2015, back when “Morning Joe” was still mostly friendly confines for the Trump phenomenon. Same story — Joe and Mika confront the candidate about his reading habits — but the tone is entirely different. Scarborough plays it off with a mix of shock, humor, and naked admiration for Trump’s animal political cunning. Sure, he suggests, Trump is a goof who may not be able to make it through a paragraph before wondering what’s on Fox News — but he has instinct. Strength. A Reaganesque “genius” for lulling people into underestimating him. Maybe there are more important things in politics than reading, he implies. This is why, to this day, NeverTrumpers will grouse at Scarborough on Twitter whenever he tweets something cutting about the president, wondering where that healthy skepticism was circa 2015 when “Morning Joe” was busy helping to legitimize Trump as a credible candidate. Scarborough has insisted sporadically that his transformation on Trump is a figment of people’s imaginations, that he was always pro-Jeb and challenged Trump plenty of times. Read today’s WaPo piece and then watch the clip and judge for yourself.
I wish I could take credit for finding this but it was Jason Zengerle of GQ who dug it up.