Trump has the rare skill of believing his own lies
President Trump has a talent that many people would love to possess: the ability to edit an outrageous action out of one’s memory and believe it never happened.
That’s a laudable trait for, say, a relief pitcher who coughs up a home run. But it’s a scary trait in the supposed leader of the free world, at least when he uses it to spin the most racist of statements into a he-said-she-said dispute. But that’s who he is, and that’s where we are. Trump isn’t the first politician to say something outlandish behind closed doors. Politicians are human beings, some with only limited mental capacities. When they get into a heated exchange, they sometimes cross the line.
It rarely becomes public. When it does, they first try to explain their way around it. If that doesn’t work, they try to spin the interpretation. And then, if all else fails, they just give up and ask for forgiveness.
Trump, however, does not have the forgiveness gene. He can only insist or deny until we get worn down and move on to the next outrage.
The irony in Trump’s nakedly racist comment about people from Haiti and Africa is that he may well have been on the verge of an immigration victory when he shot his mouth off. He might even have managed to get funding for the wall in return for allowing the “Dreamers” to stay in this country, something he would like to take credit for as well.
Instead, he has reporters shouting questions at him about whether he considers himself to be a racist. That’s a scene none of us is likely to forget.
A real hero: We said goodbye to a real trailblazer last week when we laid former California Secretary of State March Fong Eu to rest in Oakland.
In 1974, Fong Eu was the first Asian American in the U.S. to be elected to a state constitutional office. Before that, she was with me in the Assembly, where one of her first causes was to abolish pay-toilet stalls for women. Hard to believe, but back in the ’60s men’s rooms were free, while women usually had to pay a dime to use a toilet.
Another reminder of what women have been through.
My favorite memory of March was back in 1974, when I first ran for Assembly speaker. My then-roommate in Sacramento, Leon Ralph, was supposed to put my name in nomination when the Democratic caucus met.
What I didn’t know was that Leon had cut a deal with my rival, Leo McCarthy of San Francisco, to get a committee chairmanship in return for double-crossing me.
When the nominations opened, Leon just sat there. March, who was sitting behind him, instantly realized he had sold me out and starting beating him over the head with her purse and yelling, “You lying bastard!”
I lost the election. But the memory of seeing March in action was almost worth it.
Basic black: I heard it through the grapevine: Democratic women in Congress will take a cue from Oprah Winfrey and her #MeToo colleagues in the Golden Globes crowd, and wear black to President Trump’s State of the Union address Jan. 30.
Movie time: You have got to see “The Post,” the story of how the Washington Post did battle with President Richard Nixon to publish the Pentagon Papers. It was a powerful moment for freedom of the press in this country, but for me, the movie is also about the birth of the women’s movement.
Post publisher Katharine Graham, played by Meryl Streep, found herself in charge when her husband died. Her treatment by the men of the time and media, which ignored her, is a great reminder of the history behind today’s #MeToo movement.
Don’t laugh. Oprah Winfrey making a bid for the White House is not as out-of-this-world as you may think.
We’ve entered an age when celebrities have inherited the credibility that politicians have lost. People have welcomed Oprah into their homes for years, figuratively speaking. She comes off as sane. These days, that counts for a lot.
Plus, you can’t help but love someone who for years has given away everything from cars to refrigerators to people in need. And with her reading list, she has helped sell books by deserving authors to people all across America.
A skill like that is guaranteed to win votes.
President Trump, unlike many politicians who cross a line, refuses to admit that he has done it.