Trumpslator. It’s one of the most demanding jobs in all of journalism. Trumpslators as in the hardworking people who comb through the raw text of interviews with Donald Trump and set out to make it seem as if Trump’s responses to simple questions make sense. It’s not always obvious, because most articles only show the results of their work. But any time the public gets a glimpse behind the scenes, and sees the raw ingredients from which Trumpslators must make their sausage, it’s intimidating. It can also be hilarious, as in this interlude from The Economist.
Reporter: Another part of your overall plan, the tax reform plan. Is it OK if that tax plan increases the deficit? Ronald Reagan’s tax reform didn’t.
Trump: Well, it actually did. But, but it’s called priming the pump. You know, if you don’t do that, you’re never going to bring your taxes down. …
Reporter: But beyond that it’s OK if the tax plan increases the deficit?
Trump: It is OK, because it won’t increase it for long. You may have two years where you’ll…you understand the expression “prime the pump”?
Trump: We have to prime the pump. … Have you heard that expression before, for this particular type of an event?
Reporter: Priming the pump?
Trump: Yeah, have you heard it?
Trump: Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just…I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It’s what you have to do.
Yes. Donald Trump invented the phrase “priming the pump” a couple of days ago. And he claims this after the reporter says he’s heard the phrase before. But it’s not the craziest exchange in the interview.
This being an Economist interview, the primary focus is Donald Trump’s tax plan. Or at least, that’s the focus of the reporter. Because for the other participant in this dialog … focus isn’t a word anyone would use.
Reporter: The politics of this? Do you need to get Democratic support to get this tax plan passed?
Trump: Um. Little bit.
Reporter: And to get Democratic support, they prefer…
Trump: Depending. It depends on which plan, you know, which concept we’ve got to…but it could be. But I think the Democrats are going to like it. We may align it with infrastructure, which they like. They like it as much as the Republicans like it. We need infrastructure in our country. This country has wasted $6 trillion in the Middle East. Wasted. Like taking it and throwing it right out that window. Right in to the Rose Garden. See that beautiful Rose Garden? Look at those very nicely dressed people. It’s religious liberty out there.
Trump indicates that he may link his tax plan to an infrastructure package in order to secure Democratic votes. Infrastructure appeals to both parties. The war in Iraq has been an expensive waste of funds. We’ve thrown that money in a garden, but it’s a nice garden full of people whose clothing … oh, $#@% it.
Reporter: Mr President, can I just try you on a deal-making question? If you do need Democratic support for your tax plan, your ideal tax plan, and the price of that the Democrats say is for you to release your tax returns, would you do that?
Trump: I don’t know. That’s a very interesting question. I doubt it. I doubt it. Because they’re not going to…nobody cares about my tax return except for the reporters. Oh, at some point I’ll release them. Maybe I’ll release them after I’m finished because I’m very proud of them actually. I did a good job.
Hope Hicks: Once the audit is over.
President Trump: I might release them after I’m out of office.
Because that would be so helpful. But hey, mark your calendars for 2019.
The whole interview is like this. It’s incredibly funny … like one of those zombie movies that throws in some dark, dark humor just before everyone is eaten.