Few public speakers reveal their disdain for prepared remarks more than our president; it might be a reflection of his well-known disdain for the written word. With a text in hand, written by some faceless factotum, Trump’s voice falls into a phlegmatic purr and his heavy-lidded eyes remain glued to the page. Only when he wants to throw in his own two cents does his voice take on the more familiar animated tone.
I enjoy the obiter dicta much more than the recitation, partly for the mysterious questions they raise, partly for the mental chaos they suggest. “We ask every American to maintain vigilance in hygiene and social distancing and voluntary use of face coverings,” he read sleepily. “It’s exciting to see …” and then whoosh! out flies the errant, incipient thought: “We have a lot of talent involved, from governors down to people that just stand there and help you with the doors.”
Suddenly the chasm opens up beneath our feet. Who are these helpful door people? Why did they enter the president’s brain at that moment? Could it be because he just walked through a door that one of these helpful people opened?