News reporters get excited every time Donald Trump does something that's a step or two away from all those terrible things he said at his campaign rallies. They think it means something. Like: he really doesn't want to hurt the Clintons, so maybe he won't order the FBI to put a special prosecutor on her email case. Or maybe the wall will actually be a fence in some places. And he "has an open mind" about climate change, and maybe waterboarding is not such a good idea after all (because now someone he admires, Gen. Mattis, told him it doesn't really work.)
He met with the New York Times editors and publishers the other day for what's been described as "cordial" and respectful. He even, when prompted, told them that he "denounces and condemns" the white nationalist conference held in Washington that unabashedly trotted out Nazi-style gestures and anti-Semitic rhetoric -- and celebrated his election. Of course, it took no prompting for him to tweet out an angry denunciation of the cast of "Hamilton" for it's "disrespect" for VP-elect Mike Pence -- and incorrectly, at that. They were only imploring him to take seriously the message of the play and respect the rights of all people.
Do not be fooled or get your hopes up. As one letter writer said to the Times: "Time and time again Mr. Trump has shown the world that he can speak from both sides of his mouth. When he talks to right-wingers, he is a hard-core nationalist; but when he talks to liberals, he soften his stands" (Michael Hadjiargyrou, 11/24). Another writer (Esther Bushell, 11-24) wrote this:
"I was an English teacher for 40 years. Donald Trump, in answering questions about global warming, white nationalism, waterboarding, and press freedoms, sounds exactly like my students who hadn't read the assignment and had to obfuscate in their answers. Everyone in the classroom knew who hadn't done the homework and didn't understand the material."
Yes, ma'am, Ms. Bushell. You are so right. In fact, we now hear that Mr. Trump hasn't even bothered to arrange the time for any further security briefings since the election. How many briefing books do you think he takes home with him to study at night? Ha! No time for that either, since he has to keep up with his twitter audience.
The bar is now so low that, when the announcement was made that Nikki Halley would be the Ambassador to the U.N., our reaction wasn't so much skepticism because she has absolutely no experience in foreign affairs but relief that it wasn't going to be John Bolton or Rudi Giuliani. Of course, we still have the possibility that one of them will wind up as Secretary of State -- if Mitt Romney turns him down.