Want Trump to suf­fer? Make Kanye visit again

Toronto Star - - ENTERTAINMENT - Vi­nay Menon

Un­til Kanye West vis­ited the White House, I didn’t think it was pos­si­ble to feel great sym­pa­thy for Don­ald Trump. I was wrong. Watch­ing him slouched be­hind his desk in the Oval Of­fice on Thurs­day — hands clasped, eyes glazed over — as Kanye ram­bled on and on AND ON in a dis­jointed so­lil­o­quy that sounded like a 40,000-word for­tune-cookie mes­sage, it was im­pos­si­ble not to feel sorry for the U.S. pres­i­dent.

This was not a lunch sum­mit. It was a buf­fet of cray-cray.

Ever been to a house party where the host sud­denly forces you to watch a ridicu­lously dull slide show from a re­cent Euro­pean va­ca­tion — “that’s us on the bus on our way to a gift shop out­side the Eif­fel Tower” — or ex­claims it’s time to play Pic­tionary? That was Trump’s ex­pres­sion. It looked like he was try­ing to guess the doo­dles Kanye’s words were sketch­ing in an­other di­men­sion.

Hey, Ye, is that a uni­corn eat­ing the face of a baby al­paca?

Is that the moon dry-hump­ing Antarc­tica?

Mr. West ar­rived at 1600 Penn­syl­va­nia Ave. with his beloved “Make Amer­ica Great Again” cap, a numb­skull ac­ces­sory that, he says, makes him “feel like Su­per­man.” But in­stead of fly­ing or bend­ing steel with his bare hands, it seems the hat has given him the su­per­power of not mak­ing a lick of sense.

“So there’s the­o­ries that there’s in­fi­nite amounts of uni­verse,” said West, early on, as Trump sat with the stone­faced re­gret of a third-grader in de­ten- tion. “And there’s al­ter­nate uni­verse.”

Trump looked vaguely alarmed, as if he was lis­ten­ing to a hobo out­side an Olive Gar­den turn an in­nocu­ous riff on bread sticks into a rant about a de­monic trap door in the ozone layer that is steal­ing souls.

For the next 10 min­utes, West segued from pres­i­den­tial par­dons to men­tal health care to do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ing to re­plac­ing Air Force One with a fic­tional, hy­dro­gen-pow­ered “iPlane” — he even whipped out his phone and ac­ci­den­tally re­vealed his “000000” pass­word while show­ing off a pro­to­type il­lus­tra­tion swiped from a grad­u­ate stu­dent the­sis with­out credit — and poor Trump just lis­tened.

This may be the long­est he’s gone in si­lence since Me­la­nia called, yelling about Stormy Daniels.

This may be one blast of celebrity love he will live to re­gret.

Just based on the in­creas­ingly frozen ex­pres­sions of Ivanka and Jared Kush­ner, you can imag­ine the mixed feel­ings Trump’s in­ner cir­cle must now have about Kanye: “Mr. Pres­i­dent, it’s great an A-list star is fi­nally en­dors­ing you. But, sir, he keeps re­fer­ring to you as ‘bro’ and just ad­mit­ted he can’t count back­wards. Also, we caught him in the hall­way be­rat­ing a paint­ing of Abra­ham Lin­coln.”

“We have a good — and the thing is, let’s stop wor­ry­ing about the fu­ture,” said West at one point, as on­look­ers glanced around for the fire exit. “All we re­ally have is to­day. We just have to­day — over and over and over again, the eter­nal re­turn.”

Trump nod­ded with pal­pa­ble un­cer­tainty.

“And one of the things we got to set is Ford to have the high­est de­sign — the dopest cars, the most amaz­ing. I don’t re­ally say ‘dope,’ ” said West. “I don’t say neg­a­tive words and try to flip them. We just say pos­i­tive, lovely, di­vine uni­ver­sal words. So the fly­est, fresh­est, most amaz­ing car.”

Trump now looked like he was watch­ing a Bol­ly­wood flick with­out sub­ti­tles.

“I don’t an­swer ques­tions in sim­ple sound bites,” West scoffed, when a re­porter asked about Trump’s al­leged racism. “You are tast­ing a fine wine. It has mul­ti­ple notes to it. You bet­ter play 4D chess with me like it’s Mi­nor­ity Re­port.”

Yes. Or Tid­dly­winks like it’s Dumb and Dumber. What be­comes of this TrumpWest bro­mance re­mains to be seen.

But this much is clear: Trump has never come across as sweeter, kinder, more pa­tient and, yes, pro­foundly sym­pa­thetic. I can tell you right now, as West ques­tioned the space-time con­tin­uum or called for an end to all in­car­cer­a­tion, a lit­tle voice in­side Trump’s head kept whis­per­ing, “Wow, this guy is a to­tal whack job.”

But he just smiled and nod­ded, even when Kanye was wav­ing his arms like a bank rob­ber in a for­eign coun­try, even when Kanye leaped out of his chair and gave him a bear hug that got dan­ger­ously close to pres­i­den­tial mo­lesta­tion.

What­ever you think of Don­ald Trump, Thurs­day was a stark re­minder that things could be much, much worse for Amer­ica. Trump may be a po­lar­iz­ing nar­cis­sist prone to gib­ber­ish and bravado.

But he’s got noth­ing on Kanye West.

AN­DREW HARRER BLOOMBERG

Kanye West shakes hands with U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump dur­ing a meet­ing in the White House on Thurs­day.

GABRIELLA DEMCZUK THE NEW YORK TIMES

Kanye West shows Jared Kush­ner a photo of an air­plane dur­ing his meet­ing with Don­ald Trump on Thurs­day.

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