*Back in the day, President Ronald Reagan relied on an old school preparation device for his foreign negotiations, especially his summit sit-downs with Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev. He brought along index cards that he would keep nearby among his official papers and documents. It was a reminder of key points. Sort of shorthand for presidential cheat sheet.
Well, that was then–and that was Reagan, not exactly known as a detail wonk. We get it. Nothing left to chance. We also know that the ultimate failsafe backup was Secretary of State George Shultz, who once had to provide cover when the president’s index cards fell on the floor–across from the Soviet delegation. Shultz seamlessly stepped in and advanced the U.S. talking points until the cards were recovered and rearranged.
So what does a President Donald Trump prep include? Maybe he’s wired to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson or to Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser–or Henry Kissinger. And what might a Trump cheat sheet look like? Some possibilities:
<“It’s Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (ah-bay). No ‘Honest Abe’ references. Just call him ‘Mr. Prime Minister.’ Also, remember that only once in history has a country used a nuclear weapon on another country. It was us–and it was against Japan. Twice. They’re aware of Pearl Harbor, but it still remains a touchy issue.
<“Don’t forget, it’s SOUTH Korea you’re in. Don’t ask President Moon Jae-in what his preferred first name is. Just address him as ‘Mr. President.’ No ‘M*A*S*H’ references, please.
<“Do not go off script. Remember, it’s Beijing. It hasn’t been called ‘Peking’ for years. They still want Taiwan, but the Brits did give Hong Kong back. Nothing off the cuff with Chinese President Xi Jinping, even though you hosted him at Mar-a-Lago. But if he calls you ‘Donald,’ you should respond with ‘Xi’ (Zee). If he makes an attempt at pop culture small talk, don’t indicate that you loved the Mickey Rooney character in ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s.’
<“When in Vietnam, don’t even think of comparing a Trump Tower with the ‘Hanoi Hilton.’ And don’t bring up Ken Burns’ “Vietnam” series. It could lead to an ‘Agent Orange hair’ comment that you will regret. But if the war does come up, it’s not the “Tit Offensive.”
<“When in the Philippines, don’t put your budding bromance with the thug-like President Rodrigo Duterte on display. The optics would be awful. He’s more despised than you are.”
* As has been well noted, Netflix’s “House of Cards” had been increasingly looking analogous to Trump’s “House of Shards.” Now, due to Kevin Spacey’s suspension over allegations of sexual misconduct, the sixth and final season is in production limbo.
First, if the series wants to maintain its eerie, ironic conflation with real world, presidential politics, it will find a truly appropriate way to “kill off” Frank Underwood, the diabolical Spacey character. What a time to further educate the electorate and remind principal players about ways to remove a sitting president. But it is still taste-be-damned show business, and anything is possible, including a coup–or worse.
Second, how ironic that by summarily suspending Spacey, Netflix has manifested standards for a TV president that are more exacting than those for an actual president.
* While it’s dismissed as more “fake news” by the White House, this month’s piece in Vanity Fair has to be troubling for certain West Wingers who are likely in self-serving, CYA mode. “For the first time since the (Mueller) investigation began,” notes writer Gabriel Sherman, “the prospect of impeachment is being considered as a realistic outcome and not just a liberal fever dream.” Ouch.
* Have to wonder if Trump had been tempted to send a “thank you” tweet to Donna Brazile for her tell-all, sell-all book that further trashed the Clinton campaign. Basically, thanks for piling on and thanks for yet another welcome diversion and yet another “Crooked Hillary” and “Crazy Bernie” pander opportunity to the base.
And, BTW, what of former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz? She’s been conspicuously out of the loop. Whatever happened was mostly on her collusion watch. Chances are, she’d rather be asked about her compromised, non-liberal, Cuban positions.
* If Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush could be “primaried,” then why not Donald Trump? Why the hell not?
* Sarah Huckabee Sanders: Cruella De Vil, only not as personable.