Op-ed: Trump the translation

  • By Bob Franken
  • Wednesday, March 7, 2018 10:05am
  • Opinion

Let’s ponder “manslation,” the term that describes that irritating male habit of deciding it’s necessary to interpret to the group what a woman is “really” trying to say. An appropriate response would be “Who asked you?” Actually, there’s an even more appropriate response, but let’s not go there.

Interestingly, at the White House, it has become necessary to come up with a variation. You guessed it; we should call it “Trumpslation.” Ironically, many of the Trumplators are female. It gives new meaning to the expression “A woman’s work is never done.” The likes of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks spend a huge amount of their time deciphering and then publicly clarifying the latest loopy POTUS outburst, which is probably a redundancy. It’s full-time work. But wait, Hicks has decided that she’s had enough. She’s exiting stage right and returning to private life, while trying to scrub away the legal problems that seem to splatter on anyone who’s near Donald Trump.

She had even acquired the nickname “The Spinster,” which had nothing to do with her marital status. She was the expert in going through verbal gyrations to put a fictional gloss over whenever he said something outrageous, which was all the time. “She’ll be sorely missed” is anything but a platitude. She and the entire Donnie Decoder Squad have been working overtime as Wild Man has been tossing out a stream of thoughtless comments.

There was that bipartisan meeting at the White House, focused on gun control. Trump apparently decided that live television coverage of events like this would be a boffo idea, and he’s probably right. Well, he would be, if he hadn’t suddenly blurted out positions that, in effect, gave the Democrats much of what they wanted. Expanded background checks? No problem. Wanna talk about a ban on assault weapons? You betcha. He even mused out loud about allowing authorities on a whim to take weapons from those they feel are mentally ill, declaring, “Take the guns first; go through due process second.” Who’s afraid of the National Rifle Association anyway, he exclaimed.

Well, apparently he is, because the next night, he and Vice President Mike Pence had an unannounced meeting with NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox. Shortly thereafter, Cox went to Twitter to announce that Trump didn’t really mean it: “POTUS &VPOTUS support the Second Amendment, support strong due process and don’t want gun control. #NRA #MAGA.” An hour after that, the president offered his own tweet. “Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!” In other words, Cox told Trump to back off. And Trump did as he was told.

It was still another instance of shooting from the hip that caused a worldwide uproar. The very next day he was meeting with corporate executives when he suddenly announced that he would be imposing huge tariffs on steel and aluminum. The problem is that among the people who were in stunned surprise were members of his staff who deal with such matters. Apparently, he just decided to ad-lib the first broadside in a trade war against the world. The stock market immediately tanked. If actually implemented, those tariffs would be met by every foreign country imposing their own on every product labeled “Made in the U.S.A.” Not only that, but by making all steel and aluminum imports prohibitively expensive, he’d be raising the price on various consumer goods.

That didn’t deter the president from following up with a tweet: “Trade wars are good and easy to win.”

No, they’re not. In trade wars, everybody loses. So the Damage Control Patrol swung into action. Not only that, but Congress is exploring ideas to block him. The Republicans in Congress, that is. Let’s see how this plays out and when — or, for that matter, if. Even with the bedlam he created, Trump has continued to be defiant, threatening that if other countries retaliate, he’ll retaliate against their retaliation.

This is a leader whose idea of deliberation is spontaneous combustion. Then his people must try to contain the flames and explain away his latest act of arson.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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