Trump doesn’t kid. (Just kidding)

[This post is silly. If you want a good post then check out my newest at Econlog.]

Reporters asked Trump if he was kidding when he discouraged testing for coronavirus:

“I don’t kid,” Trump said when pressed by reporters on Tuesday. “Let me make it clear.”

Most people were sucked in by that. But not me. I suggested that he might be one of those Andy Kaufman type comedians, who prolonged the act far past the point where most comedians give up. And now Trump has confirmed that hypothesis:

President Donald Trump on Thursday said he had “sarcastically” claimed that a decrease in coronavirus testing would lower U.S. infection rates, adding a new twist to the weeklong scramble by the White House to clarify the president’s comments on virus testing.

“Sometimes I jokingly say, or sarcastically say, if we didn’t do tests we would look great,” Trump said in an interview and Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity. “But you know what? It’s not the right thing to do.”

Perhaps this is why all his former advisors describe him as an idiot; they don’t get that deadpan Kaufman-type humor:

On different occasions, people close to Trump in an official sense have been described in books or journalistic accounts referring to their boss as an “idiot” (former chief of staff John Kelly and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster), a “moron,” (former secretary of state Rex Tillerson), “like an 11-year-old child” (former aide Steve Bannon) with an understanding of world affairs akin to “a fifth- or sixth-grader” (former defense secretary James Mattis).

These are Very Serious People, and they don’t understand that when Trump discusses issues like bombing Syrian or a trade war with China, he’s just kidding around. They have no sense of humor. Look at their faces—they never smile.

Venezuelan-Americans also fail to understand Trump’s sense of humor:

In an interview with Axios, Trump second-guessed his own decision to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader and suggested he would meet with Maduro. The comment created a firestorm in the state, especially in South Florida, home to more than 400,000 Hispanics of Venezuelan originTrump quickly distanced himself from his own comments.

People need to lighten up; our president is a post-modern comedian. From day one, it’s all been an act.



12 Responses to “Trump doesn’t kid. (Just kidding)”

  1. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    27. June 2020 at 12:39

    “Suspension of belief” is the operative cinematic phrase when reacting to Trump. Since Trump does well in front of a camera (the few times I’ve seen him, I was impressed, as a Toastmaster myself) I predict even with Covid-19 and a possible second spike, Trump may well win in November.

  2. Gravatar of Patty Patty
    27. June 2020 at 13:09

    It’s called sarcasm. And it does require a sense of humor. Some of us still like humor and, unlike you, still dare to laugh at others and ourselves. We have not kneeled to new age social warriors that call it “suggestive”, or “evocative”, or “racist”. A few minutes watching Fox, CNN, MSNBC or reading the NYT will not make you politically literate. In fact, in today’s world it makes one politically illiterate. I suggest watching his speech in full.

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. June 2020 at 13:52

    Patty, Yes, some people still have a sense of humor. Too bad you aren’t one of them.

  4. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    27. June 2020 at 22:44

    In the end I guess it came down to this, he is at heart and entertainer.

    Not Hitler, not Mussolini, not even Berlusconi. He’s a stand-up comic version of PT Barnum.

    He looks vulnerable, and he looks like he doesn’t care if he wins. He already did that. Time for a show on Fox.

    This will go down as one of the weirdest periods in US history

  5. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    27. June 2020 at 22:46

    @Ray L:

    Gutsy prediction there, he “may well win”

    Well, no sh*t.

  6. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    28. June 2020 at 05:55

    Well, we know he will not decrease testing. Forecast 1 mil+ a day by September. Have read 1.5 mil. Andy Kaufman was far funnier. Also, he is running against Biden. He is closer to Kaufman than Trump. Have not followed either that closely of late. It is a bit of a Dead Zone. Still have to see if Biden will be candidate. I probably think he is closer to dementia than most people. Plus we will need to see if the higher cases will lead to higher deaths per week. I am amazed his approval is still in 40s. If deaths level out in 300-400 (somehow I think it will be higher) range economy will. Likely to improve. I cannot tell if “violence” is that serious.

    I liked your discussion of exchange rates ——I had forgotten that.

  7. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    28. June 2020 at 08:43

    Michael, You said:

    “Well, we know he will not decrease testing.”

    That’s like saying “We know that my pet cat will not decrease testing”. Why say something like that? A reader who didn’t know how intelligent you are might get the wrong idea that you believed that Trump was the person where determined whether testing was going to be reduced. He has no more influence on testing than does the tree in my back yard.

  8. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    28. June 2020 at 11:48

    @msgkings – “Gutsy prediction there, he “may well win” Well, no sh*t.”- excuse me? Do you recall our host writing a few years ago, as noted by others, that Trump has said and done things that other presidents would have gotten screwed over for? The fact that Trump may indeed still win despite all the outrageous things he’s done the last four years and Covid-19 is indeed amazing. From a logical viewpoint, Trump should not even be in the race by now.

  9. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    28. June 2020 at 15:03


    For sure, we are in crazy times where a clown like that can win it. I was teasing you for your “prediction” which allows you to claim you knew what would happen no matter what happens.

    But I agree, it’s insane he has any chance at all.

  10. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    28. June 2020 at 23:55

    Yes, a lot can change in 4 months, but Trump is now being blown out in the betting markets.

    Down by 22.5 points, on average.

    And, since many of Trump’s cultists may continue to follow his example and refuse to wear masks in public, they will ironically help to defeat him, because it’s clearer than ever that economic recovery depends upon getting the pandemic under control.

    Also, Trump is too stupid to even avoid incriminating himself publicly, much less pivot into anything resembling a sane and competent leader, so obviously he looks finished. There can be some volatility to come in polling and betting odds, but my feeling is that critical mass has been reached and enough voters in swing states will want change to ensure a big election night for Democrats.

    What’s more, there’s feeling of revolutionary change in the air. I don’t expect an actual revolution, but I think the log jam in Washington will break, and we’re seeing the beginning of the great liberal backlash. I just hope there’s not too much excess on the liberal side in the process. There are some real ill-informed fringe elements in the Democratic Party that need to be managed.

    I suspect the Republican Party is starting to see the beginning of it’s wilderness phase now, if it ultimately survives at all.

    I’m reminded of my international relations studies in college in which I encountered numerous examples of poorly handled natural disasters being the last straw for incompetent governments.

  11. Gravatar of Bob Bob
    29. June 2020 at 05:47

    I’m sure the Trumpists will soon try spinning his “white power” video tweet as a hilarious joke.

  12. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    29. June 2020 at 11:36

    Scott—-all presidents are at least 80% cats—its the 3-20% that matters. (your 3 and my 20). You probably think I am a pro-Trump guy—and unfortunately in this world of ours I default to that position. But I prefer his 20% (okay, maybe 10%) than Biden’s (or whatever groups within the Dem party will win out) 3%. I could give a list of reasons—but it is not really important.

    By the way—-aren’t you somewhat astounded how gradually—-we are slowly getting to the “truth” about this virus? All those “weird” looking numbers are beginning to clarify.

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