The Don and Kanye show — an Oval Of­fice ex­trav­a­ganza

Weekend Herald - - World - Cather­ine Lucey Photo / Bloomberg

Live from the Oval Of­fice, it’s Kanye West with a jaw-drop­ping per­for­mance.

The rap­per didn’t rap. But, seated across from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump at the Res­o­lute Desk, the mu­si­cian de­liv­ered a mul­ti­part ram­bling mono­logue yes­ter­day that touched on so­cial is­sues, hy­dro­gen planes, men­tal health, en­dorse­ment deals, pol­i­tics and oh so much more.

Seiz­ing the spot­light from the typ­i­cally cen­tre-stage Pres­i­dent, West dropped the F-word, floated pol­icy pro­pos­als and went in for a hug.

“They tried to scare me to not wear this hat,” West said of his red “Make Amer­ica Great Again” cap. But, he said, “This hat, it gives me power in a way.” He told Trump: “You made a Su­per­man cape for me.”

It was a sur­real scene even by the stan­dards of a non­con­ven­tional White House.

The un­likely al­lies spoke to re­porters be­fore a closed-door lunch that had been billed as a fo­rum to dis­cuss pol­icy is­sues in­clud­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing, gangs, prison re­form and vi­o­lence in Chicago, where West grew up. Spec­ta­tors at the show in­cluded Trump’s son-in-law and top ad­viser, Jared Kush­ner, former NFL star Jim Brown and the lawyer for a gang leader serv­ing time in fed­eral prison.

Dur­ing one pause, Trump seemed to ac­knowl­edge the odd­ness of the mo­ment, say­ing: “That was quite some­thing.”

The con­ver­sa­tion be­gan with an ex­change on North Korea among Trump, Brown and West. Trump said the re­gion was headed for war be­fore he took over, and West com­mended him for stop­ping it. Brown said he liked North Korea; Trump agreed.

From there, West dis­cussed prison re­form and vi­o­lence in in­nercity Chicago. He brought up Larry Hoover, the leader of the Gang­ster Dis­ci­ples who is serv­ing a life sen­tence for mur­der, claim­ing, “The rea­son why they im­pris­oned him is be­cause he started do­ing pos­i­tive for the com­mu­nity. He started show­ing that he ac­tu­ally had power, he wasn’t just one of a mono­lithic voice, that he could wrap peo­ple around.”

West said he “loved Hil­lary” Clin­ton, Trump’s 2016 Demo­cratic ri­val, be­cause he loves ev­ery­one, but said he con­nected with Trump’s “male en­ergy”. West also crit­i­cised the 13th Amend­ment, which abol­ished slav­ery, call­ing it a “trap door”.

At one point, West men­tioned he had been di­ag­nosed with bipo­lar disor­der, but later said it was a mis­di­ag­no­sis and he ac­tu­ally had sleep de­pri­va­tion.

Hold­ing out his phone, West showed Trump a pic­ture of a hy­dro­gen-pow­ered plane that he thought should re­place Air Force One.

“This right here is the iPlane 1,” he said. “This is what our Pres­i­dent should be fly­ing.” Added West: “If he don’t look good, we don’t look good. This is our Pres­i­dent. He has to be the fresh­est, the fly­est” and have “the fly­est planes”.

West also had a sar­to­rial sug­ges­tion for Trump, propos­ing a hat that says just “Make Amer­ica Great” — drop­ping the “again”.

At the end of West’s lengthy,

You are tast­ing a fine wine that has mul­ti­ple notes to it. You bet­ter play 4D chess with me. . . . It’s com­plex. Kanye West

some­times-hard-to-fol­low di­a­logue, even Trump seemed at a loss. “I tell you what: That was pretty impressive,” the Pres­i­dent said.

“It was from the soul,” West replied. “I just chan­nelled it.”

West later told re­porters of his ver­bal stylings: “You are tast­ing a fine wine that has mul­ti­ple notes to it. You bet­ter play 4D chess with me . . . It’s com­plex.”

Tak­ing ques­tions from re­porters, the rap­per also voiced con­cern about stop-and-frisk polic­ing. Trump this week called on Chicago to embrace the tac­tic, which al­lowed po­lice to de­tain, ques­tion and search civil­ians with­out prob­a­ble cause, though it was deemed un­con­sti­tu­tional in New York City be­cause of its over­whelm­ing im­pact on mi­nor­ity res­i­dents.

Trump said they’d dis­cuss the mat­ter and he’d keep an open mind.

Asked about his com­ments in 2005 that Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush didn’t “care about black peo­ple” af­ter Hur­ri­cane Katrina, West said that “we need to care about all peo­ple” and that he “was pro­grammed to think in a vic­timised men­tal­ity”.

Trump and West pre­vi­ously ap­peared to­gether shortly af­ter Trump’s 2016 elec­tion in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York.

Asked what the two had talked about dur­ing their De­cem­ber meet­ing, West re­sponded briefly that time: “Life. We dis­cussed life.”

While Trump has been shunned by much of the Hol­ly­wood es­tab­lish­ment, he has a fan in West, who closed a re­cent Satur­day Night Live ap­pear­ance wear­ing a “Make Amer­ica Great Again” hat and de­liv­ered an un­scripted pro-Trump mes­sage af­ter the cred­its rolled.

West is mar­ried to re­al­ity tele­vi­sion star Kim Kar­dashian West, who suc­cess­fully pushed Trump to grant a par­don to a drug of­fender this year.

West him­self has sug­gested he might be open to wad­ing into pol­i­tics, in­clud­ing a run for pres­i­dent in 2020.

Asked if West could be a fu­ture pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Trump said: “Could very well be.”

West shot back: “Only af­ter 2024.”

Af­ter all that, the Pres­i­dent brought the show to a close by sug­gest­ing: “Let’s go have some lunch, OK?”

Kanye West told Don­ald Trump that his Make Amer­ica Great Again cap “gives me power”, although he did sug­gest drop­ping the Again.

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