Say what? Donald Trump met with Vladimir Putin. American officials claim he pressed Putin on Russia’s messing in our presidential election. Putin’s people insist Trump accepted Russia’s assurances that nothing happened.
We will now explain how this outcome was inevitable.
Our president, as you know, has ever-changing personas, ranging from statesmanlike Reader-of-Speeches to Nearly Unhinged Trump, a version frequently seen on Twitter.
And Diplomacy Don, who seemed to fall head over heels for Putin.
“President Putin and I have been discussing various things and I think it’s going very well. We’ve had some very, very good talks,” Trump said. This was before the meeting even began. What do you think he was referring to? A late night pajama party?
Then off they went, for a meeting that went on for more than two hours. Halfway through, Melania came in to remind Trump they had other things to do. Naturally, he ignored her.
The two presidents agreed to a prearranged limited Syrian cease-fire. And they did talk about Russian meddling in the American election. But which Trump do you think brought the subject up? The day before, a version who took a few questions from reporters in Poland seemed to regard the whole matter as the sort of moral equivalent of jaywalking. (“A lot of people interfere. I think it’s been happening for a long time.”)
That was Ad Lib Trump, who is always ... interesting. Then Nearly Unhinged emerged overnight and took to Twitter, blaming the election hacking scandal on the Democrats: “Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!”
Several questions arose, the chief one being why the leaders of the most important nations in the world would be talking about Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager, whose current occupation was taking a cross-country drive with his wife.
Nearly Unhinged disappeared before the big sit-down and was replaced by a Trump version we’ll call Good At Meetings. GAM sits there nodding a lot, leading the other side to think he’s in agreement when in fact he’s just wondering what he’s going to have for dinner. Across from him was Putin, the guy who assumes that he’s won every debate unless the other side makes resistance so clear that they have to be arrested.
Previously, Europe had gotten a look at a number of other variations of our president. Speechreading Trump, who usually makes a good impression, went on a Crusader kick in Poland, calling for a defense of Western civilization from “radical Islamic terrorism” and “the steady creep of government bureaucracy.”
In Poland, people also got quality time with Ad Lib Trump, who popped up at a gathering of Eastern European countries. After complimenting his hosts (“Beautiful nations, by the way”) the president then went on to brag about the American economy (“Our stock market just hit an all-time high ...”), and to complain that he isn’t personally making any money off it.
Then Trump bragged in general about the United States. (“We make the best technology and we make the best, best technology for fighter jets and ships and equipment, military weapons. There’s nobody even close.”) At this point, Trump had begun to resemble a dinner guest who does nothing but talk about his superior tennis skills, better car and more interesting vacations.
It’s getting embarrassing when the rest of the world watches him go on like that. Maybe on future foreign trips they could arrange for him to be introduced as “the president of the United States who won the election and got better ratings than Arnold Schwarzenegger on ‘The Apprentice.’” That would at least get it over with at the beginning.•
Collins is a New York Times columnist. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.