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Napoleon, Hitler and the economy — David Brooks hints that Trump is losing his mind

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On July 19, three New York Times reporters interviewed Donald Trump– which made news when the president said he shouldn’t have made Jeff Sessions Attorney General– and afterward reporter Peter Baker said that Trump “tends to veer wildly from topic to topic,” and it’s hard to follow his train of thought. But Times columnist David Brooks (who was not there) was more unsparing:

I actually thought the most disturbing part of the whole interview was the transcript. I mean we all are embarrassed when we read transcripts of our conversation. But usually with most people, there’s some flow of thought there. There’s some more than just sort of spasms about what Napoleon was doing. And then we go off to some other issue and some other issue. I thought – and especially compared to the transcripts of Donald Trump 15 years ago, there’s a totally different conversational style, the explanation for which I do not have.

The clear hint is that Trump is losing his mind. I read the transcript, and here are two sections that Brooks seems to be referring to. First, Napoleon and the economy.

BAKER: Will you go to Britain? Are you going to make a state visit to Britain? Are you going to be able to do that?…

TRUMP: Ah, they’ve asked me. What was interesting — so, when [French President Emmanuel] Macron asked, I said: “Do you think it’s a good thing for me to go to Paris? I just ended the Paris Accord last week. Is this a good thing?” He said, “They love you in France.” I said, “O.K., I just don’t want to hurt you.”…

We had dinner at the Eiffel Tower, and the bottom of the Eiffel Tower looked like they could have never had a bigger celebration ever in the history of the Eiffel Tower. I mean, there were thousands and thousands of people, ’cause they heard we were having dinner….

[Times reporter Maggie] HABERMAN: You must have been so tired at, by that point.

TRUMP: Yeah. It was beautiful. We toured the museum, we went to Napoleon’s tomb … [crosstalk] Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.” [garbled] The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather?


Same thing happened to Hitler. Not for that reason, though. Hitler wanted to consolidate. He was all set to walk in. But he wanted to consolidate, and it went and dropped to 35 degrees below zero, and that was the end of that army…  But the Russians have great fighters in the cold. They use the cold to their advantage. I mean, they’ve won five wars where the armies that went against them froze to death… It’s pretty amazing.

So, we’re having a good time. The economy is doing great.

[Reporter Michael] SCHMIDT: The markets are doing great.

TRUMP: They’re going to really go up if we do what we’re doing. I mean, cut regulations tremendously. Sometimes — you know, one thing they hadn’t thought about at The Times, where they said I didn’t really cut regulations as much. I heard that because I said — it could have been a little slip-up in terms of what I said — I meant, for the time in office, five months and couple of weeks, I think I’ve done more than anyone else. They may have taken it as more than anyone else, period….

Next there was this extended bit, about not talking to the Japanese Prime Minister’s wife, and Russia being radioactive.

BAKER: A lot of people are curious about your conversation with President [Vladimir V.] Putin at dinner [on July 7]. Not surprising. But what did you all talk about, and——

TRUMP: So, that dinner was a very long time planned dinner. And what it was was an evening at the opera. It was a final night goodbye from Germany and from Chancellor Merkel. It was her dinner. It was, you know, everybody knew about it. It was well-known….

So when we got there, it was with spouses, and when we got there, there were a thousand media…. So, it was tremendous media. And we took a picture of everybody, the wives and the leaders, and then the leaders, and, you know, numerous pictures outside on the river. Then everybody walked in to see the opera. Then the opera ended. Then we walked into a big room where they had dinner for not only the leaders — Lagarde [Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund] was there, who I think is terrific, and various others. You had the E.U. people there, people other than just the leaders, but quite a few people. I would say you have 20 times two, so you had 40, and then you probably had another 10 or 15 people, you had Christine Lagarde, you had some others also.

So, I was seated next to the wife of Prime Minister Abe [Shinzo Abe of Japan], who I think is a terrific guy, and she’s a terrific woman, but doesn’t speak English.

HABERMAN: Like, nothing, right? Like zero?

TRUMP: Like, not “hello.”

HABERMAN: That must make for an awkward seating.

TRUMP: Well, it’s hard, because you know, you’re sitting there for——


TRUMP: So the dinner was probably an hour and 45 minutes…. You had an opera, and then you had a cocktail party for the people at the opera, and then you had the leaders with the spouses, and other leaders in Europe and maybe other places, go in. We sat at this really long table, which held, has to be at least 60, 65 people with room. O.K., it’s a very big table, big room. But there was nothing secretive about it.

It was like, that’s where we’re going. And I think it even said on the list, at the request of the German chancellor and Germany, it’s going to be the opera, it’s going to be cocktails, it’s going to be dinner. I think the crowd thinned out for the dinner — you know, it was the leaders, primarily. But the leaders and Lagarde. And [inaudible].

O.K., so we’re sitting at this massive table. And the wives are separated from their husbands, which sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. But they did. It’s always easier when they don’t do it, because you always have somebody to talk to, right? And I was sitting next to the president of Argentina — his wife — [Mauricio] Macri — nice woman, who speaks English. And the prime minister of Japan’s wife, Prime Minister Abe. Great relationships. So I’m sitting there. There was one interpreter for Japanese, ’cause otherwise it would have been even tougher. But I enjoyed the evening with her, and she’s really a lovely woman, and I enjoyed — the whole thing was good.

And now Melania was sitting on the other side of the table, way down on the other end, very far away. She was sitting next to Putin and somebody else, I don’t know. She was sitting next to Putin.

HABERMAN: She had been the whole time?

TRUMP: Yes. She was sitting next to Putin.

BAKER: Does she speak Russian at all?

TRUMP: No. She speaks other languages.

TRUMP: She was sitting next to Putin and somebody else, and that’s the way it is. So the meal was going, and toward dessert I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes. Just talked about — things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.

HABERMAN: You did?

TRUMP: We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting. Because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don [Jr., Mr. Trump’s son] had in that meeting [with Russians on June 9, 2016]. As I’ve said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, “By the way, we have information on your opponent,” I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said [inaudible], “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?”…

Now, that was before Russia was hot, don’t forget. You know, Russia wasn’t hot then. That was almost a year and a half ago. It wasn’t like it is, like it is radioactive, then. Russia was Russia.

I get what Brooks is saying. The thought process is fragmented, and lost in trivia– seemingly confused. Though the transcript reminds me of the expression crazy like a fox. Trump is damned if he’s going to give the reporters anything (though he did), so he runs in circles.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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28 Responses

  1. Atlantaiconoclast on July 29, 2017, 1:15 pm

    I would argue it might be more due to insufficient sleep. Trump is widely known to get only about 4 hours of sleep per night. Regardless, why should anyone care what David Brooks has to say?

  2. Citizen on July 29, 2017, 2:50 pm

    Well, I am glad Trump at least knows what happens to those who invade Russia. He might even know that about Afghanistan. Thumbs up.

    He also needs to study up on what happens to those who attack Persia/Iran.

    And take a look at Israel’s 50 year military occupation of OT Palestine

  3. wondering jew on July 29, 2017, 3:37 pm

    There’s nothing insane about Donald trump. He is impetuous, uncontrolled, spoiled, undisciplined, possessing a personality totally unsuited to the seriousness of the office, but not insane.
    He’s also old, with the worsening of personality and brain power that comes with age.
    George Will feels the American system or people need a dose of putting the presidency in its place, that Trump will cure us of the imperial presidency. When trump fires mueller, the day after the November 2018 midterm elections there will be a constitutional crisis .

    Off topic, I just read hisham milhem’s indictment of the Arab realm’s politics. (In foreign policy, June 5, 2017. Fifty years later.) If this is the predominant situation, what expectations are realistic rather than naive, for an independent palestine in the borders of 67. This does not excuse israel. But to deny this reality is to play pretend.

    Ben Gurion created an army designed for offense. The diplomatic minded sharett never had power. Only BG’s retirement and succession by eshkol removed him from power, but the army he built remained in place. The contradiction between eshkol’s personality and the army’s muscular attitude created a contradiction. BG designed the army for his leadership, it was not designed to accede to a less expansionist leader. This personality clash led to the may 67crisis. Nasser must’ve been in deep trouble in Yemen to gamble like he did in may 67. And one must say that it was a gamble he lost.
    I also must say that when the conflict reveals its religious aspect, the secular atheists here are tone deaf and whatever language lacuna creates a lost in translation feel, is worsened because religion itself is a foreign language here.

    • John O on July 29, 2017, 4:15 pm

      Trump can’t stick to the subject either.

      • echinococcus on July 29, 2017, 6:15 pm

        That’s good. We’ve seen what the sane murderers do. They stick to the subject and the subject always ends up robbed, gagged, maimed and/or dead.

      • Citizen on July 29, 2017, 7:53 pm

        Yes like Hillary, in Yemen; she said she was going to stick to a lot more regime change subjects, while she was in campaign mode for POTUS. At the time, Trump was deploring the results of regime change, promising to end diplomacy via bombs.

      • RoHa on July 29, 2017, 11:47 pm

        Well said, echi.

    • Mooser on July 29, 2017, 4:28 pm

      “I also must say that when the conflict reveals its religious aspect, the secular atheists here are tone deaf and whatever language lacuna creates a lost in translation feel, is worsened because religion itself is a foreign language here.”

      Oh I hate it when “whatever language lacuna creates a lost in translation feel” too, “yonah”.

      If you are trying to say that nobody will engage you,
      “yonah”, because you make no sense, well, that’s about the size of it.

      • gamal on July 29, 2017, 6:44 pm

        “the conflict reveals its religious aspect”

        Like when Israelis fire a tear gas cylinder into the face of a little Jewish girl and blow out her eye at Qalandia, yes god will ask about it, thats the religious aspect, do the right thing and pay the cost, thats the best bit, pay the cost.

        you think god is a joke, i don’t fear anything, happy to burn with others, with other beings, anyone is welcome in Hell, cool I get turned away where the door policy is tight, but still i would be afraid to answer for that, shoot a little Jewish girl, in her eye, or the other stuff they did, happy to burn afraid to do those kind of things,

        religion is not a faction in this shit. Happy to burn with or with out you.

      • Mooser on July 29, 2017, 8:01 pm

        “religion is not a faction in this shit.”

        You’ll never convince a lacunatic like “yonah fredman” of that.

      • gamal on July 29, 2017, 8:21 pm

        “nobody will engage you,”

        Love and Hate can never be friends…….

        so here I come with Love and not hatred ….

        Surely goodness and love will follow I all the days of my life…

        Here I come with Love and no hatred, live up good children

        Love and hate ….here I come…goodness and mercy all the days of I life…

        Live up good children,

  4. Mooser on July 29, 2017, 4:52 pm

    “There’s nothing insane about Donald trump”

    You ought to know who is insane and who’s not, “yonah”.
    Why I’ll bet Donald Trump doesn’t even get a disability check.

    • gamal on July 29, 2017, 10:08 pm

      “Donald Trump doesn’t even get a disability check.”

      there is no Annie, you going to have to do,

      set me free, why don’t you baby (forgive me no Annie)

      you keep telling me lies,

      just keep me hanging on, you really don’t need me …(there is many “babies” not the same without Annie), Ken said you’d understand…

      set me free

      • annie on July 29, 2017, 10:45 pm

        hi gamal ;)

      • Mooser on July 30, 2017, 11:14 am

        “gamal” vanilla fudge doesn’t compare to ackee, anatto and avocado pear ice cream.

  5. Kay24 on July 29, 2017, 5:10 pm

    Seriously, I think he had already lost his mind even before the campaign. The erratic behavior, the insults, the lies, the inability to realize his lies will be fact checked fast by the media, and that he will look like a liar, the fact that he hounded Obama will stories that his people are finding “interesting” things in Hawaii, and so on. Only someone with a severe mental problem will behave this way.
    What sane person will think he knows more than all the Generals, and that he alone can fix everything? It is frightening to think such a person is the leader of any nation.

    • John O on July 29, 2017, 5:50 pm

      My personal theory is that Trump realised his house-of-cards business empire was reaching the point where he might end up in jail. The best solution was to run for president to put himself above the law. Not being the sharpest knife in the box, he didn’t think through the implications.

      • Kay24 on July 30, 2017, 7:16 am

        For the last 6 months we have seen a man and his family act like they are above all laws.
        He was so naive when he became President, and most probably thought it was going to be
        more like a dictatorship with no checks and balances. He is learning the hard way that he cannot pass bills, and change laws, without it being sanctioned by the courts and congress.
        It has been 6 months of investigations, scandals, firings, and law suits. He has failed to deliver most of his campaign promises, and he is so desperate now he wanted Obamacare repealed at any cost to millions of Americans, just so he can brag he did it. He still thinks he is in a reality show, and that someone should be fired or lose. The nation has still not seen that brilliant “deal making” he has bragged about.

    • echinococcus on July 29, 2017, 6:12 pm


      It’s even more frightening to be governed by competent war criminals and criminals against peace, who calculate exactly their crimes, are good at propaganda and let free rein to the armament makers, the generals and the Zionists guiding US policy. I mean your own warmongering bosses, the Clinton Harpy, the abominable Obama, Sanders the war-loving mountebank. Without forgetting of course the ones you also voted for: George Bush the son, Clinton, Bush the father, and so on. How fast we forget the destruction of all these countries in compliance with direct orders from the Zionists.

      Where you give away your solidarity with the murder mafia is when you praise the Generals’ “knowledge” –of course they are knowledgeable and competent in committing crimes against humanity and war crimes, duh! that’s their job and that’s the only thing they have ever done since 1945– against the judgment of civilians.

      All this by way of reminder only. Trump isn’t an improvement over the Democrat and Republican administrations but the hasn’t done anything worse than your Demoneocon guys. Yet.

      What is so hard to swallow is that you Democrats are sincere when you appear not to realize that you carry the full responsibility of the Trump presidency, too.

      • Citizen on July 29, 2017, 8:03 pm

        God save all us survivors from the sane, and their legally coded PC lingo of our leaders, who still don’t realize 9/11 & subsequent harm to Americans were those chicken hawks coming home to roost, “the usual blowback” from our demented foreign policy.

      • Mooser on July 30, 2017, 11:29 am

        “Echin”, your comments have convinced me. I will never buy a home espresso-maker.

      • echinococcus on July 30, 2017, 7:27 pm

        Absonagginglutely right, Mooser. Only the big professional models make decent coffee.

    • RoHa on July 29, 2017, 11:54 pm

      “What sane person will think he knows more than all the Generals, and that he alone can fix everything? It is frightening to think such a person is the leader of any nation.”

      But such people are the leaders of most nations. Elections and coups usually produce such leaders, but even some hereditary monarchs fit that description.

  6. bryan on July 30, 2017, 6:00 am

    I’m not sure that Emperor Napoleon III, who employed Haussmann to redesign Paris, actually lost an army invading Russia, but never mind. Travel often broadens the mind but it’s not compulsory. Also disappointing to see so many commenters who are unprogressive on everything except the Middle East.

    • Mooser on July 30, 2017, 11:17 am

      “disappointing to see so many commenters who are unprogressive on everything except the Middle East.”

      Now, there’s a new one! “Unprogressive on everything except the Middle East.” Gotcha!

    • RoHa on July 30, 2017, 8:35 pm

      A minor detail. All these Napoleons look alike. One loses to the Russians, another to the Prussians. Just one letter difference.

      Anyway, they are all Frenchmen, so who cares?

  7. JimMichie on July 31, 2017, 10:26 am

    ” . . losing his mind”? The clown from hell is as loony as a bat in a belfry!

  8. RobertHenryEller on July 31, 2017, 11:02 am

    President Holster Mouth is not losing his mind (to the extent he has ever had one).

    Holster Mouth has a monumental incuriosity about the world beyond himself. But in his hatred/envy of men like Obama, partiuclarly Obama, Holster Mouth does have at least an unconscious sense that “men of the world,” “worldly men,” should be able to talk about anything, and have an opinion, a perspective.

    So Holster Mouth is doing his unpracticed and undeveloped pantomime of what he thinks sophisticated people sound like, much as a child would, because he has no actual experience being such a person.

    George W. Bush had never traveled outside the U.S., except into the border towns of Mexico, before he was president. Holster Mouth has never traveled outside of himself.

    Holster Mouth is not losing his mind. He is using every bit of his mind that he has always used.

    And David Brooks own ability to credibly analyze anything stands on his all too long record.

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