If Donald Trump ever lets his remote-control device wander from the all-news channels to the old folks’ classic reruns, he’s apt to fire hapless Jeff Sessions for sure.
Ben Matlock, all wily and winning, would doubtlessly look to Trump like a natural for attorney general.
But Matlock is a defense attorney, you say. Yes, but that’s how Trump seems to view the attorney general — as his personal defense lawyer, out-foxing the evil deep state as it tries to make something sinister of Trump’s innocent man-crush on Vladimir Putin.
Matlock could install Lieutenant Columbo to head the FBI. Columbo could keep going back to Chappaqua to pester a steadily roiling Hillary Clinton with just one more clumsy question about those emails.
I’m joking for comic and hyperbolic effect. But, really, can one much hyperbolize Trump in this American wasteland he’s fashioned where talking-head television and blundering government merge?
Can one much hyperbolize the hiring of that strange fleeting character, going by “The Mooch,” whom Trump had seen defend him vigorously on television, and who lasted several minutes as a leading White House adviser?
The Mooch never even got a security clearance, just like Jared Kushner.
Can one much hyperbolize that, just the other day, Trump telephoned the dapper CNBC tax-cut obsessive, Larry Kudlow, who is identified in one online biography as an “American conservative television personality?” Trump told Kudlow, while he was momentarily off-air, that he’d just seen him on television and that he’d looked handsome. Then the leader of the free world told the “American conservative television personality” that word was seeping out, so it was time to announce that Kudlow would become the White House chief economic adviser.
Now Kudlow will tell the president to his face what he tells dozens of viewers through the high-definition screen. Now the taxpayers, rather than advertisers and viewers, will pay for the information.
Mainly all Kudlow ever says is cut income taxes.
It was all “so Trumpian,” Kudlow, back on the air, said, laughing, as if to describe something charming rather than absurd from a president who was a hoot rather than a joke.
So, on Monday, Trump added to his personal defense team one Joseph diGenova, a reputable if partisan former U.S. attorney and independent counsel under Republican administrations. But one can’t help but suspect that the credential Trump found the most impressive was that diGenova said in January in an interview on Fox that he believes the FBI has lost its way and that its agents had endeavored to frame Trump.
So, Trump has ordered up diGenova as a new member of his already expensive and expansive defense team.
The president is assembling a positively O.J.-caliber celebrity dream squad.
Perhaps the Russian glove won’t fit. Perhaps Trump will then set out to find the real colluder. Perhaps the made-for-TV serial will win an Emmy, if the real-life version doesn’t cop one first.
Also, on Monday, Trump went to Manchester, N.H., to deliver rambling remarks on opioid abuse. He happened to see in the crowd the former New Hampshire governor and George H.W. Bush chief of staff, John Sununu.
Trump veered from his text to say that Sununu initially had been viciously anti-Trump “on TV” — that’s what he said, “on TV,” and using the third person — early in the 2016 campaign. But he said that Sununu is now one of the president’s greatest defenders “on TV.”
It’s always the TV.
Sununu, as an old Bushian, had been a vigorous Trump critic early in the campaign. Now, being a Republican, he deploys his considerable debating skills to do what those of considerable debating skills are trained to do — which is argue the other side just as effectively.
Indeed, there was an incident months ago in which Sununu pummeled an over-matched CNN questioner and surely won a place in the Trumpian heart forever.
What Sununu did was call out cable news for its common and bogus practice of asking interview subjects to respond open-endedly to matters not established as fact.
This is a heavily condensed and heavily paraphrased version. But it’s accurate and will readily demonstrate what the preposterous American president, watching home on TV, surely greeted with sheer megalomaniacal ecstasy.
CNN: Are you troubled by Jared Kushner’s meeting with a Russian banker with ties to Putin?
Sununu: Are you saying I should be? On what basis, if so?
CNN: I’m not saying. I’m just asking how you respond to that information.
Sununu: I don’t. But here’s the deal. If you know of some basis upon which I should be concerned, why don’t you tell me what that basis is and then ask me a question drawn from that basis, and I’ll try to answer.
CNN: Well, hmm, uh, well … did you yourself ever meet with a Russian banker for former President Bush?
Sununu: I don’t know. I went to a breakfast with the vice president at the Russian Embassy and a bunch of Russians talked to us. I don’t know if one was a banker. When you’re the incoming president and the incoming president’s chief of staff — believe me, everyone wants to talk to you.
CNN: Well, I’m just asking. We’re early in the investigation, so I’m just raising questions. I certainly don’t have collusion to invoke at this point.
Sununu: You don’t? Well, then, we should put an exclamation point right there and end the interview, because you don’t have anything to ask me.
CNN: Thank you for coming on, Governor Sununu.
Sununu: Thank you for having me.
I’m surprised Trump didn’t offer Sununu the vice presidency right then and there. Assuming he didn’t.
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.