It seems that a person who has set his sights on the highest office in one of the most influential nations on the globe should be able to communicate his thoughts clearly and concisely. He should have, I think, sufficient command of his native tongue, in this case the English language, to speak, not only in whole sentences but also in language that conveys his intent precisely such that there can be no mistake, no doubt, about what he says. And yet … and yet we have a candidate vying for the office of president who speaks in fractured sentences, and has had to follow up almost everything he has said with “well, what I meant was …” If that weren’t bad enough, he flies into a rage and criticizes those of us who took his words at face value, foolishly I guess, expecting that what he meant was the same as what he said.
Point in case is Trump’s interview with George Stephanopoulos last week regarding his “relationship” with Vladimir Putin:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about Russia. You made a lot of headlines with Russia this week. What exactly is your relationship with Vladimir Putin?
TRUMP: I have no relationship to — with him. I have no relationship with him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But if you have no relationship with Putin, then why did you say in 2013, I do have a relationship. In 2014, I spoke…
TRUMP: Because he has said nice things about me over the years. I remember years ago, he said something — many years ago, he said something very nice about me. I said something good about him when Larry King was on. This was a long time ago. And I said he is a tough cookie or something to that effect.
He said something nice about me. This has been going on. We did “60 Minutes” together. By the way, not together-together, meaning he was probably shot in Moscow…
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he was in Moscow…
TRUMP: — and I was shot in New York.
STEPHANOPOULOS: — you were in New York. But that’s the thing.
TRUMP: No, just so you understand, he said very nice things about me, but I have no relationship with him. I don’t — I’ve never met him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yet you said for three years, ’13, ’14 and ’15, that you did have a relationship with him.
TRUMP: No, look, what — what do you call a relationship? I mean he treats me…
STEPHANOPOULOS: I’m asking you.
TRUMP: — with great respect. I have no relationship with Putin. I don’t think I’ve ever met him. I never met him. I don’t think I’ve ever met him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You would know if you did.
TRUMP: I think so.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I mean if he…
TRUMP: Yes, I think so. So I’ve — I don’t think I’ve ever met him. I mean if he’s in the same room or something. But I don’t think so.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You never spoke to him on the phone?
TRUMP: I’ve been in Moscow. I didn’t meet him in Moscow. Where?
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve never spoken to him on the phone?
TRUMP: I have never spoken to him on the phone, no. I’ve speak — I’ve spoken — when we had the Miss Universe contest a number of years ago, we had Miss Universe in Moscow, in the Moscow area, he was invited. He wanted to come. He wasn’t able to come. That would have been a time when I would have met him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But a — I just want to clear this up, because you did say on three different occasions you had a relationship with him. Now you say there is not.
TRUMP: Well, I don’t know what it means by having a relationship. I mean he was saying very good things about me, but I don’t have a relationship with him. I didn’t meet him. I haven’t spent time with him. I didn’t have dinner with him. I didn’t go hiking with him. I don’t know — and I wouldn’t know him from Adam except I see his picture and I would know what he looks like.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Vice President Biden told me this week that Vladimir Putin wants to beat Hillary and Madeleine Albright said that your victory would be a gift to Putin. And what they’re pointing to is things like your statements about conditioning our commitments to NATO allies, softening the GOP platform on Ukraine, even considering softening sanctions and recognizing Russian annexation of Crimea. They fear that that’s going to hurt America and advance Russia’s interests.
TRUMP: They only fear one thing, losing the election. If our country got along with Russia, that would be a great thing. When Putin goes out and tells everybody — and you talk about a relationship, but he says Donald Trump is going to win and Donald Trump is a genius, and then I have people saying you should disavow. I said, I’m going to disavow that? But when Putin says good things and when we have a possibility of having a good relationship with Russia…
STEPHANOPOULOS: But if we have a good relationship…
TRUMP: — I think…
The conversation has my head spinning and frankly, I conclude from this that George Stephanopoulos is more qualified to be president than Donald Trump. Trump’s speech patterns are consistent with that of a high school freshman, if that. A couple of clarifications are in order. Trump did, in fact, say in an interview with MSNBC in 2013 “I do have a relationship [with Putin] and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today.” Putin did not refer to Trump as a “genius”. What he actually said was “He’s a very colorful person. Talented, without any doubt. But it’s not our affair to determine his worthiness — that’s up to the United States voters.” It seems that there is a distinction between the words “colorful” and “genius”. Bozo the Clown was also colorful. Albert Einstein was a genius. See the difference?
Personally, although there is certainly reason to be concerned about a relationship between Trump and Putin, and I will write more about that in a future post, my concern today is the lack of truth, the lack of credibility in virtually any statement he has made, the lack of ability to communicate so much as a simple thought. It is said that Trump does not much like to read. Perhaps this explains a lot, for it is through reading that we expand our vocabulary, as well as our communication skills. Trump claims to be a “smart” man with a high IQ. I do not for one minute believe it. I know many people who are of average intelligence, with average IQs who are better able to communicate on their worst days than Trump on his best. His trusted minions have their work cut out for them, going behind Trump and trying to clean up the messes that he made the day before, but more often than not they just muddy the waters even more. Perhaps that is the intent … keep the waters so muddied that we, the voters, cannot possibly discern what the reality is.
That is the first problem with a man who cannot communicate … that the voters have no idea what he stands for, as he cannot seem to speak his mind and it frequently changes anyway. The next danger, should he become president, is how he would communicate with leaders of other nations. In times of international crisis, every word counts, clarity is vital and a single word, misconstrued, can set off a chain of events leading to catastrophe. Clear communication is one of President Obama’s strong suits, as well as one of Hillary Clinton’s. It is not one of Donald Trump’s. Think about it.