State of the Union: What would count as ‘presidential’ from Trump?

In her New York Times column this morning, Michelle Goldberg begs you, and especially the commentariat, not to declare President Trump “presidential” if he expresses some desire to bring the country together.

Here are a few snippets from her column titled “Please Don’t Call Him Presidential.”

I’m begging my fellow pundits not to get too excited should Trump manage to read from a teleprompter without foaming at the mouth or saying anything overtly racist….

… At best, Trump will succeed in impersonating a minimally competent leader for roughly the length of an episode of ‘The Apprentice.’ And if he does, recent history suggests that he will be praised as the second coming of Lincoln.

Goldberg predicts that Trump will try to ratchet down the anger and self-obsession. He should, of course, and maybe he will. Like Goldberg, I don’t expect Trump to say anything that would deeply alter the impression I have formed of him based on the past two years. But Goldberg set the bar pretty high for what he would have to say to win her over, in her opening paragraph, which read:

After a tumultuous and divisive year in office, Donald Trump has the opportunity for a fresh start with his first State of the Union address on Tuesday. The president can surprise those who think the worst of him, and prove that he’s been underestimated. All he has to do is apologize to his fellow Americans for the shame he’s brought upon this country, and resign effective immediately.

I’m not one for making predictions, but I’ll be surprised if he does that.

Comments (27)

  1. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 01/30/2018 - 03:11 pm.

    The Consumate Liar

    There is nothing Trump can say that I will believe. Some may fall for his BS but it won’t be me. Paranoia, insecurity, brashness, irrational/immature behavior, and not of my world defines Trump as I see him. I don’t need any of his baloney. Life is hard enough without having to deal with a man who has a value system centered on his money. He hounded President Obama because he gave his speeches using a teleprompter. Listening to Trump, the monotone and the phony content, who ironically will be reading from a teleprompter, makes for one very dull presentation. He will not be able to make it through his presentation without going off the script that someone else has written for him. It will be a totally wasted night with Trump’s speech and the pundits’ analysis. I don’t plan to waste my time.

  2. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/30/2018 - 03:23 pm.

    Right you are, Tom

    Since Trump is a pathological liar, it doesn’t matter what he says or how he says it.
    He will probably DO something totally inconsistent with his statements within a day or two.
    By his works you shall know him, and after he’s done, nothing will work.

  3. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 01/30/2018 - 04:20 pm.

    Almost reaching the name calling quota….

    We got the

    Trump is a racist line in today…

    Trump is a liar rant in today…

    Only three more categories to go in order to fill in the MinnPost quota for the day….

    Nothing like taxpayer subsidized journalism for simulating discussion of important issues.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/30/2018 - 05:19 pm.

      Too bad

      you’re describing the President.
      So sad.

    • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 01/30/2018 - 06:19 pm.

      Guess who has to change first.

      For my perception to change Trump has to change.

      A low bar of acceptance just doesn’t work for me.

    • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/30/2018 - 07:30 pm.

      Hmmm…

      Just out of curiosity, what does the phrase “…taxpayer subsidized journalism…” mean when you use it?

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/31/2018 - 09:03 am.

        My Guess

        Perhaps he means that MinnPost is a non-profit. The same logic could be applied to megachurches and theological seminaries.

        The funny thing is, the usual conservative response to a claim that a tax exemption amounts to a tax subsidy is some cant about how the speaker must believe that all money belongs to the government and that an exemption is just an act of grace that allows us to keep more of it.

  4. Submitted by ian wade on 01/30/2018 - 04:39 pm.

    In terms of what appears “presidential”

    Trump has set the bar so low that if he’s able to stumble through the evening without insulting anyone, the press will report that his presidency has “turned a corner.”

  5. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/30/2018 - 10:10 pm.

    “apologize to his fellow Americans for the shame he’s brought upon this country, and resign effective immediately” Ms. Goldberg (and maybe Mr. Black) forgot that half the country (OK, maybe 40%) think that brought pride to this country, the one that Obama lost… I also wonder, what would happen if he does that – will Democrats praise Pence and agree with his vision?

  6. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/31/2018 - 09:23 am.

    Slow Clap

    He read a prepared speech from a teleprompter. Good for him.

    The idea that a ninety-minute (!) speech can erase the past year of hateful, divisive rhetoric is absurd on its face. It will be a matter of days–perhaps only hours–before the “let’s make nice” rhetoric gets washed away in a Twitter-storm of bile.

    On a side note, President Trump is a dreadful speaker. He was reading his speech without descending into the mocking language he dotes on, so his delivery was fairly wooden. His body language was the most bizarre of any President since Woodrow Wilson was laid up in 1919.

  7. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 01/31/2018 - 12:21 pm.

    And, from Trump’s speech, you would think that the Russian government had nothing to do at all with how he got elected! Or that he has spent much 2017-2018 time in office ranting about the investigation into how his campaign and transition teams collaborated with the Russians. And trying to obstruct that investigation.

    The day’s news included, just so we keep our priorities straight, the announcement by the Trump White House that the President does not intend to enforce the sanctions against the Russians for that interference in 2016, sanctions that were passed by Congress in 2017 and signed into law by him.

    Trump–the “Kompromat Kid” for his use of gazillions of Russia money in his businesses–is bent on making life easier for Russian (and former Soviet bloc) oligarchs. Kind of a quid pro quo with the Russians that he refuses to talk about.

  8. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 02/01/2018 - 09:46 am.

    llya: The first thing Trump tried to do when he was sworn in, was eliminate Obama’s sanctions against Russia (check the Flynn plea agreement for how Flynn spoke with Russia about not reacting to Obama’s sanctions, during the presidential transition–an illegal act by Flynn and Trump’s team, because we only have one president at a time and Obama was still it in December 2016). First thing, out of the gate was to assuage Russia!

    Have you read the transcripts of sworn testimony by Glenn Simpson, the head of Fusion GPS, whose research into Trumps business finances shows how the Russians got a solid grip on Trump (aka the Kompromat they’re so famous for)? Have you counted up all the proven public evidence of Trump campaign and transition committee members talking to Russian officials, then lying about it? Why did they think they had to lie about that? What are they hiding? Why is Trump so afraid of the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election?

    Trump supporters can pretend that they have a viable narrative of Total Trump Innocence on the Russia front, including his brush-off of Congressional insistence, by law, that he impose sanctions on Russian figures. But millions of us have been following both solid news accounts and released Congressional testimony (the Mueller stuff is probably devastating, and that’s why Trump is so intent on attacking the validity of the FBI and sister intelligence agencies before Mueller releases his report, if any).

    There IS a there there, Ilya!

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/01/2018 - 10:07 pm.

      “The first thing Trump tried to do when he was sworn in, was eliminate Obama’s sanctions against Russia” So what does it prove? There may be plenty of reason to do it… And, by the way, the first act of Obama was a “reset” with Russia.

      “an illegal act by Flynn and Trump’s team, because we only have one president at a time” Are you referring to Logan’s act – the one that has never been used?

      “Have you counted up all the proven public evidence of Trump campaign and transition committee members talking to Russian officials, then lying about it? Why did they think they had to lie about that?” So far there is no evidence that any of those meetings were illegal. Lying – do we always know why people lie? But do you know who paid to Fusion GPS for that dossie? And how do we know that Putin didn’t feed them the information?

      “Why is Trump so afraid of the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election?” I don’t know if he is afraid – maybe he is just annoyed…

      millions of us have been following both solid news accounts and released Congressional testimony” And what did it prove? Again, I am not aware of any proof of collusion. Can you please list some?

      “the Mueller stuff is probably devastating” You wish but we have no idea what’s there…

      Look, Constance, of course, you may believe that Trump sold his soul and presidency to Putin but this belief is no different that Republicans’ belief that Clinton sold uranium to Putin or my belief that most likely there was no law breaking worth talking about…

  9. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 02/02/2018 - 11:55 am.

    I suggest you actually read the Simpson testimony (transcripts are available on-line, just Google them). There you will find that the Steele dossier is only a part of the research Fusion GPA did on Trump’s business and financial activities, and it is the financial stuff that really, really puts Trump in the hands at least of the major crime figures of the Russian diaspora. He’s been compromised by the Russians through business dealings, where he desperately needed, and got, huge financial support fro oligarchs and a lot of shady folks who form the Russian/East European mafia.

    It was Steele’s and Simpson’s view that Trump bumbled his way into Kompromat; he was naive, where the Russian spy services are never, ever naive or bumbling! According to Simpson’s research, the Russians had been grooming Donald Trump for more than a decade before 2016.

    In Simpson’s testimony, you’ll find how he (an experienced and very highly-regarded ex-journalist financial researcher for law firms and businesses in litigation, who began researching Trump for a Republican candidate during the primary season, not for Clinton or the DNC) and Steele ruled out possible Putin “disinformation”–for one, Steele had many years as one of the UK’s top Russian spies and he meticulously sifted his sources’ information for any planted stuff. He rejected some, on the smell test alone.

    READ, Ilya! There you will see that Steele felt a professional spy’s responsibility to take the damning information about Trump’s unwitting entrapment by Russians to the FBI–as a citizen report, so to speak. What all of us should do, and Trump Jr. did not, when he learned that the Russian government wanted to share information on Clinton with the Trump campaign, to help Trump win.

    Trump campaign and transition and administration officials meeting with Russians isn’t always illegal. It’s lying about it to the FBI and other US intelligence agencies. That’s what Flynn and Pappadopoulos copped to: they lied about it. Federal crime. Carter Page has been under investigation by the FBI since at least 2013, when they found he had been recruited by the Russian spy ring in NY. Page also lied repeatedly about what he was doing in Russia. That’s a crime.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/02/2018 - 09:29 pm.

      So again, do you know who paid for Fusion GPS research? And we all know that he who pays the pipers calls the tune.

      “the Russian spy services are never, ever naive or bumbling” That is very true so it is quite possible that they fed Mr. Steele (who apparently hated Trump) what he wanted to find despite his statements to the contrary.

      “the Russians had been grooming Donald Trump for more than a decade before 2016.” For what? To make him a president who would sell America to Putin? And what did Russia get for its efforts a year into Trump’s presidency?

      “Trump campaign and transition and administration officials meeting with Russians isn’t always illegal. It’s lying about it to the FBI and other US intelligence agencies” That’s right but what was Mueller hired for? I think it was finding collusion with Russia, not false testimony. Did you like it when Starr, hired to investigate Whitewater, got Clinton for lying? I didn’t like it then and I still don’t like it now.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/03/2018 - 12:04 pm.

        Yes we know

        All truths only come from “T”, CIA, FBI, Justice etc.entire American judicial system, unless they rule in “T’s” favor are all corrupt! Yes we know, all news agencies other than FOX are fake corrupt and intent on overthrowing the most honest, successful and humble president America has ever seen. Yes we know, the only reason we are anti “T” is because we are jealous of his success, honesty, extreme ethical values, humanitarian traits, along with his superior work ethic and intellect, Yes we know.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/03/2018 - 04:03 pm.

          I appreciate you sarcasm but the reality is that you abhor Trump for his winning the elections and for his policies – everything else is just a derivative.

  10. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 02/03/2018 - 11:02 am.

    Yes, I do know who paid for the Fusion GPS research into Trump. It’s in the Simpson testimony and some really neat main-stream-media journalism from more than a year ago which may be too detailed and precise for commenters like you to read, it seems. Or maybe, finding out the facts of what two highly-regarded professionals–Glenn Simpson and Christopher Steele–dug up about the mess that is Donald Trump’s business history and how he fell into Russian oligarch’s pit just is too revealing of who Trump is. Beyond what we know from what he says and does as President.

    Nobody wants to talk about what Simpson found, with his own, non-spy research into Trump as seen in public documents. That Trump is not at all as rich as he wants people to believe. That many of his properties–particularly the golf courses in Ireland and Scotland and some of his hotels and resorts–are “sinks” for money and have never made any profit. That most of Trump’s income comes to him from property and trusts that Donald Trump’s father set up for him and his siblings, not from Trump’s own initiatives where he routinely loses millions. That Trump’s business associates into the 1990s included a heavy presence of the Italian mafia, but then–post Soviet collapse and with the Russian diaspora and oligarchic kleptocracy that characterizes post-Soviet Russia–his associates came to include a heavy presence of Russian and East European organized criminal mafia figures. (Lots of those Russian bad guys are named by Simpson, an expert in Russian business shenanigans.)

    Those transcripts of Simpson’s sworn testimony take a few hours to read. But they read like a novel and contain names and dates and a lot of information on Donald Trump from Simpson’s digging in public documents and Steele’s Russian sources and experience dealing with trustworthy or untrustworthy “human intel,” which in Fusion GPS’s contract with him was Steele’s part of the project.

    Simpson explains how Steele never met with Fusion’s clients on this research (company policy, not to involve sub-contractors with clients). That Steele was never employed by the
    FBI as a source; he volunteered to the FBI what he had discovered, out of professional responsibility to the country. He was never paid by the FBI for the information he provided them as civic duty to warn about Trump’s naivete, and he therefore could never be “terminated” buy the FBI, as the stupid Nunes memo released 2/2/2018 claims.

    Simpson was under oath, by the way. Trump has yet to say anything under oath in the Russia probe, and he is determined to destroy the investigation before he has to.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/03/2018 - 04:04 pm.

      OK, that stuff you are talking about “may be too detailed and precise for commenters like” me to read but I am sure you didn’t read The Clinton’s Cash book – should you? I do not read any of that stuff – life it too short to waste on that; I prefer real news, verified many times, to speculations (and I can list many of them from the opposite point of view).

      So let’s sum it up using logic: If you believe all these guys, Trump is a bad human being who was not a very honest businessman and whose connections are shady. True or not, it has nothing to do with his Russian collusion and Russian influence on elections, right? And, as I mentioned before, there is nothing that you can point out as a gain for Putin either… So what difference do all that stuff make?

      And by the way, can you please explain to me why Obama didn’t make all that information public before elections so we can make a better decision?

      • Submitted by ian wade on 02/05/2018 - 02:18 pm.

        Wait…

        Are you attempting to blame Obama for the fact that you voted for Trump?

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/06/2018 - 10:21 pm.

          When I said that Obama didn’t share the facts of Russian influence with Americans, my point was that Obama didn’t think it was important enough – and changed his mind only after Trump was elected to undermine him; if Clinton were elected, we would not be talking about it now

  11. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 02/04/2018 - 03:13 pm.

    Christopher Steele was “desperate” that Trump not become president–so he went to the FBI with the information he had–because candidate Trump was so in debt to Russian mobsters and so deep into money laundering for the klepto oligarchs that they would be able to bribe him, force him into actions not good for the United States.

    I remind you: first thing the Trump team did (through Flynn) in the transition was to reassure Putin about the sanctions Obama put on the Russians for their interference in our 2016 election. Trump’s campaign members had tons of secret contacts with Russia officials, which they repeatedly lied about. Why lie, if there’s nothing wrong with those contacts? (There WAS something wrong with them.)

    If you read more widely, Ilya, you’d know why Obama didn’t make a big public statement about Russian meddling in our election: It’s Not Done to issue big statements close to the election, which is why everyone gasped at Comey’s precedent- and policy-breaking “announcement” that Anthony Weiner’s computer had some copies of Clinton emails on it, from his wife’s computer, and that the FBI was re-opening the investigation into Clinton emails. About ten days before the election–probably made the difference in the election.

    Besides that, Obama thought Clinton would win, because Donald Trump was so obviously unqualified, and surely, the American people wouldn’t elect a dolt! Right?

    (P.S., How can you insistently defend Trump and not read the documents that the Democrats are forcing the Republicans to reveal in Congress, and that the investigative press has uncovered and corroborated? The person who really wants to know the truth digs for it. In that sense, I’m sure you’ve read the House Intelligence Committee minutes from last Monday, as well as the infamous Nunes “memo”?) Surely, you’re not going on what Fox News broadcasts! Right?

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/04/2018 - 09:27 pm.

      “Christopher Steele was “desperate” that Trump not become president” That’s exactly right and the fact is that “desperate” people make mistakes, to say the least, and usually cannot be trusted.

      “first thing the Trump team did (through Flynn) in the transition was to reassure Putin about the sanctions Obama put on the Russians for their interference in our 2016 election” I think he actually asked Putin not to retaliate – without any promises… Plus, again, our European allies didn’t like the sanctions. And, President Obama was caught on hot mic promising Medvedev that after elections he would be more accommodating… So we have absolutely no proof that “There WAS something wrong with them”

      “you’d know why Obama didn’t make a big public statement about Russian meddling in our election” Oh, yes, I do know how Obama explained it but it still doesn’t make sense to me because, if Russians tried to influence our elections, it should not have mattered whether “Obama thought Clinton would win” (it doesn’t matter if a robbery is successful or not – it is still a crime).

      “How can you insistently defend Trump” I do not defend him personal behavior even though I do defend his policies but in this case I just don’t see any logic in this exercise. And that is why I do not read all those things (of course, if I did, I would sure see a lot of things there which prove that Clinton was treated favorably – because everyone expected her to win – and similar things that you don’t see) – they are irrelevant to the main question: Did Trump collude with Putin to win the election or not and, as I said, so far there is no evidence of that or of Trump’s doing any favors to Putin.

  12. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 02/05/2018 - 09:11 am.

    You are aware, aren’t you, that Trump has frequent contacts with Putin that Americans only find out about through Russian news media? (Russian news announces, someone here translates and then questions the White House, which admits, “Oh, yeah, we talked to X in Russia.”Why does Trump hide those Russia contacts? (In vivo meetings, phone calls, etc) No need to hide them, right?

    The facts remain: Many Trump campaign and transition officials had multiple contacts with Russian officials and they lied about having those contacts. Lying about them constitutes a consciousness of guilt.

    Two Trump team members have pleaded guilty, two others have been indicted. Congressional GOP leaders (Nunes, Ryan, Grassley among them) have been performing aerial tricks of power plays (Nunes and the GOP majority on the House Intelligence Committee refused to let the FBI or DOJ appear before it to ex0lain their methods on the surveillance warrant on Page; refused to release the Democratic minority’s memo countering Nunes’s staff-written “memo”; Nunes hadn’t even read the underlying materials) that ;demean and damage Congress and the FBI.

    Our country used to be led by grownups.

    Finally: Ask yourself: Does Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State, to transmit non-classified [at the time] messages, amount to anything, compared to what Trump’s administration is doing, and what his campaign and transition did? It’s been proven she had nothing to do with any uranium deal, and was not responsible for Benghazi, and she wasn’t elected president.

    Can you get over Clinton and Obama? Please. Let’s concentrate on the sins of the Current Occupant.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/06/2018 - 10:20 pm.

      “Does Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State, to transmit non-classified [at the time] messages, amount to anything, compared to what Trump’s administration is doing, and what his campaign and transition did” I think, at least so far, that Clinton’s private server is a much greater offence than what Trump did. Some of Clinton’s messages were classified at that time even though they maybe were not labeled as such. But the main thing is that I can’t imagine Clinton could guarantee, when she set up her private server, that she would never get classified information because that is what secretaries of state deal with.

      “It’s been proven she had nothing to do with any uranium deal, and was not responsible for Benghazi,” No it has not. Uranium deal has not been even investigated…

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