Trump’s Version of “Self-Deprecating” Humor Is as Bizarre and Attack-Based as You’d Expect
The Gridiron Dinner is a Washington tradition going back to 1885. In that time, only one sitting president has refused to attend (Grover Cleveland, though Obama missed some years during his presidency), although no one would have been surprised if Trump were the second. The dinner involves fraternizing with the press in a sort of roast scenario, with both member of the press and the president taking playful, respectful jabs at each other. There are also musical numbers. It’s supposed to be fun. The word “self-deprecating” is often used to describe the speeches from past presidents.
Playing nice with the “fake news media?” Being self-deprecating? None of that sounds like something we can imagine Trump taking part in. And yet he did attend. The dinner has a no-cameras-allowed policy (which in itself is kind of bullshit), but outlets often do roundups of top moments and quotes. The Hill also released a full transcript of Trump’s speech, so we can read for ourselves and see that it was … odd. If you didn’t think Trump was capable of being self-deprecating, you would be right. His idea of humility is attacking everyone around him.
Most of his speech seems to be dividable into two topics: How great he is and how terrible everyone else is. Although to be honest, they usually overlap.
This is the closest he could get to self-deprecation:
My staff was concerned heading into this dinner that I couldn’t do self-deprecating humor. They were worried about it. They said, ‘Can you do this?’ And I told them not to worry. Nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do. … In fact, Orrin Hatch, Orrin said that ‘Donald Trump is the best at self-deprecating in the history of America, better than Washington and better than Lincoln.’ … Thank you, Orrin.
The New York Times is Bad, and we know this because Trump is Better.
We also have some of the leading lights of the media here including some folks from the failing New York Times. That sucker is failing! … I know we have our differences, but I also know that you have a very special place … in my heart. … The other day they had five stories on the front page of the New York Times and every one of them was totally different and each one of them was bad.
After all, you the New York Times are an icon. I’m a New York icon, you’re a New York icon, and the only difference is, I still own my buildings.
Staying on message: Trump is Good, even if Jared is Bad.
It’s been really another calm week at the White House. We finally have it running like a fine-tuned machine. It’s fine-tuned. It’s a beautiful piece of work. … But before I get started, I wanted to apologize for arriving a little bit late. You know, we were late tonight because Jared could not get through security. … Ivanka, you’ve got to do something, … Jared—but I will tell you, he’s a good guy. He has—he has suffered. He is a great guy he really is.
(Because there were no cameras allowed, we can’t know Trump’s tone. Does he actually think there has been a single, finely-tuned week in the last year+? This sounds like it has to be a joke, but he’s used that phrase–fine-tuned machine–sincerely in the past.)
Mike Pence is Good. (He’s also terrified of women which makes him a trailblazer?)
I also spoke to some of the funniest people around the White House starting with my number two, Mike Pence. … Love you Mike. … Some of you may think that Mike is not a comedian, but he is one of the best straight men you’re ever going to meet. … He is straight! …
I saw him the other day. We’re in line shaking hands with men and women. A woman came over to shake his hand and he said, ‘I’m sorry. I can’t do that. My wife is not here.’ I never saw anything like it. He’s … years ahead of his time. … Mike is doing a fantastic job as our vice president. He really is. He’s doing a fantastic job. Could not have asked for better. I really am very proud to call him, ‘The Apprentice.’
Except when he’s Bad.
But lately what bothers me, I have to tell you, he’s showing a particularly keen interest in the news these days. He starts out each morning asking everybody, ‘Has he been impeached yet?’ …. You can’t be impeached when theres no crime! … Mike, put that down! … I thought that was going to get a much better … I said to Melania, ‘Do you think I should use that one? I don’t know.’ And then she said, Use it. It’s good.’ … So much for humor. You never know about humor do you.
Joe Biden is Bad and Trump is Strong.
Just trust me, I would kick his ass. … Boy, would he be easy. Oh, would he be easy. … But Joe—give me a break.
CNN is Bad, and so is Steve Bannon, who tried to make Trump look Bad even though he is clearly Good.
CNN, it lost a tremendous amount of credibility this year, but they also lost one of their true stars, the guy who got you the most scoops, inside info … your really very best reporter. There was nobody like him—Steve Bannon. That guy leaked more than the Titanic …
He also acknowledged how Melania makes him look bad.
Now the question everyone keeps asking is, ‘Who’s going to be the next to leave? Steve Miller or Melania?’ … That is terrible honey, but you love me, right? [At this point she mouths something to him.] I wont tell you what she said. … She said, ‘Behave.’ … Is that terrible?
But Melania is good. She’s great! Right, Melania? Tell everyone how great you are! Do it!
And I just don’t understand why everyone on the internet and in the media keeps screaming, ‘Hashtag Free Melania.’ Free Melania. … Like a number one hashtag. Free Melania. She’s actually having a great time.
Yes, are you? Oh, good, she’s having a great time. You’re doing a good job. You know, you can’t do a great job unless you enjoy it.
Obviously, we know who is the Most Bad. Women. He called Elizabeth Warren “mean and angry” and said she drove men away from voting for Hillary Clinton, as well as referring to her as Pocahontas. He also attacked Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters.
Man, she’s crazy, but she’s a fine woman. She is. I actually like Nancy Pelosi. Can you believe that? Her and Maxine Waters. How about that one? Maxine Waters, ‘He must be impeached!’ That’s all she knows how to say, ‘He must be impeached!’ Impeached! … But he’s done nothing wrong. Doesn’t matter, they say. What has he done wrong? ‘I don’t know! You got to be impeached!’ … And then I say … I get in trouble for this, ‘She has to immediately, take an IQ test.’ And people go crazy. They went crazy/ But Maxine and Nancy and these people, there’s a lot of hatred. There’s so much hatred we have to stop Mike. We have to stop the hatred.
And yes, Maxine Waters responded to that insanity.
For a president whose own staff & appointees have referred to him as ignorant, stupid, & whose own Sec. of State Tillerson has not denied calling him a moron, Trump needs to get out of the name calling game.
— Maxine Waters (@RepMaxineWaters) March 4, 2018
Ultimately the media is Bad and Trump loves it. He loves their tears.
But I do want to say this is one of the best times I can ever remember having with the media. This might be the most fun I’ve had since watching your faces on election night. … I apologize. Years, years, years taken off your life. […] Look, whether you like me or not, you have to say that was good. That was exciting. … Lot of tears were in this room. You’re not supposed to cry. Mike are they supposed to be crying? If somebody wins or somebody … they’re supposed to be a little impartial. Let’s be a little bit more impartial.
Really, everyone is Bad but it’s okay because he likes it that way.
So many people have been leaving the White House. It’s actually been really exciting and invigorating. … I like turnover. I like chaos. It really is good.
Yup, chaos is good, Melania is fine, the news is fake, and women are crazy. Also, there was a parody of “You’re So Vain” about Hillary Clinton wanting to win the election, sung by women wearing pantsuits. What a fantastic use of everyone’s time.
(via The Hill, image: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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