In the interview, Associated Press White House Correspondent Julie Pace zeroed in on Trump's first 100 days. At least, she tried to. The garbled transcript, really, is something else — in short, it portrays Trump as wildly unfocused and incoherent.
Almost comically, the AP expertly inserted "(unintelligible)" when Trump was, well, unintelligible throughout the interview.
A prime example was when he discussed "rebuilding" the military:
"I'm rebuilding the military. We have great people. We have great things in place. We have tremendous borders. I mention the F-35 because if I can save $725 million — look at that, that's a massive amount of money. And I'll save more as we make more planes. If I can save that on a small number of planes — Gen. (Jim) Mattis (the defense secretary) said, "I've never seen anything like this," because he had to sign the ultimate (unintelligible) ... He had to sign the ultimate, you know. He said, 'I've never seen anything like this before, as long as I've been in the military.' You know, that kind of cutting."
And then again, just after these remarks:
"Now, if I can do that (unintelligible) ... As an example, the aircraft carriers, billions of dollars, the Gerald Ford, billions and billions over budget. That won't happen."
And yet again, after Pace prodded him about taking on the national deficit:
"(unintelligible) But as we order the other ones, because they want to order 12, the other ones are going to come in much less expensive. ..."
In a stroke of rationality, Pace changed the subject entirely. Still, Trump managed to ramble.
Pace asked, "Can I ask you, over your first 100 days — you're not quite there yet — how do you feel like the Office has changed you?"
"Well the one thing I would say — and I say this to people — I never realized how big it was. Everything's so (unintelligible) like, you know the orders are so massive. I was talking to —"
Pace inquired about the responsibility Trump speaks of, and he responded, verbatim:
"Number One, there's great responsibility. When it came time to, as an example, send out the 59 missiles, the Tomahawks in Syria. I'm saying to myself, "You know, this is more than just like, 79 (sic) missiles. This is death that's involved," because people could have been killed. This is risk that's involved, because if the missile goes off and goes in a city or goes in a civilian area — you know, the boats were hundreds of miles away — and if this missile goes off and lands in the middle of a town or a hamlet .... every decision is much harder than you'd normally make. (unintelligible) ... This is involving death and life and so many things. ... So it's far more responsibility. (unintelligible) ....The financial cost of everything is so massive, every agency. This is thousands of times bigger, the United States, than the biggest company in the world. The second-largest company in the world is the Defense Department. The third-largest company in the world is Social Security. The fourth-largest — you know, you go down the list."
Aside from his disjointed non-answers, things took a turn for the worse at the end of the interview, when Trump compared his ratings on a "Face the Nation" stint to media coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It doesn't get more insensitive than this, folks:
"It had 9.2 million people. It's the highest they've ever had. On any, on air, (CBS "Face the Nation" host John) Dickerson had 5.2 million people. It's the highest for "Face the Nation" or as I call it, "Deface the Nation." It's the highest for "Deface the Nation" since the World Trade Center. Since the World Trade Center came down. It's a tremendous advantage."
All things considered, Trump is undeniably shaky in his position as leader of the free world, as he's literally unable to convey his duties in a simple one-on-one meeting. And as always, he managed to circle back to patron viewership — like it's the most important thing on America's agenda.