On behalf of all the commentators who were appalled by Trump’s prostrate submission to the Botox Boy, I’d like to apologise to the president.
I should have known better than rushing into print with words like ‘sycophantic’, ‘fawning’, ‘idiotic’ and others I’m now too embarrassed to recall and must never repeat.
True, I didn’t go as far as ‘treasonous’, an epithet favoured by some US senators, but what I did say was bad enough. Let this be a lesson to me: I must take the time to check all the relevant facts before calling people names.
In this case, the relevant fact is that President Trump didn’t mean to say the things that came out of his mouth. They were merely a slip of the tongue, or rather a series of such slips. What he meant was exactly the opposite of his recorded words.
Since I’m only a year younger than the president, I’m in complete sympathy with his predicament. I can testify from my own experience that, when a man reaches a certain age, his sclerotic brain can play cruel tricks on him.
Many a time, for example, I wanted to say “no, thank you” to a cold caller who had just interrupted my dinner. Instead I’d inadvertently utter something that would force Penelope to remind me yet again that I’m now supposed to be a British gentleman, not the Russian savage I was in my youth.
She’s particularly sensitive about my slips of the tongue when responding to telephonic salesman after one unfortunate accident. A chap wishing to discuss my financial situation rang during lunch, and I hastily suggested he perform an unlikely act on himself – only realising after I hung up that he was actually our bank manager.
It took Penelope half an hour of grovelling apologies to get back into the offended man’s good books, even though he should have been pleased by the implied compliment to his extraordinary endowment.
In the same vein, Mr Trump – who I now realise is a man of sublime intellect and unmatched probity – inadvertently left a key word out when replying to the question about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
He meant – nay, desperately wanted – to say “I don’t see why Russia wouldn’t”. But his tongued slipped, and instead he said “I don’t see why Russia would”, changing the meaning ever so slightly.
Take it from me, that can happen to any man no longer in the first flush of youth. And since Mr Trump is even older than me, he proceeded to deliver himself of many more gaffes in the same press conference.
Thus, he said “Putin fights terrorism all over the world” instead of the intended “Putin promotes terrorism all over the world”.
“Russia is America’s good friend” instead of the intended “Russia is America’s implacable enemy”.
“We must seek a meaningful dialogue with Mr Putin” instead of the intended “The only language the likes of Putin understand is that of force”.
“Putin is a strong leader creating a good state” instead of the intended “Putin is a KGB thug creating a criminal state”.
And so on – it was one verbal lapse on top of another.
The onset of senility is hard to ward off, but Mr Trump must realise that’s what’s happening and learn to make allowances for it.
Again, I know exactly what he’s going through and can only hope that sharing my experience may help the greatest statesman the world has ever seen.
You see, Mr Trump is justly proud of his gigantic and razor-sharp intellect, which is why he dispenses with any written notes when speaking publicly. And I’m sure he could get away with it when he was young.
When I myself was young and, according to Penelope, still a Russian savage, I used to lecture on English literature off the cuff, without bothering to prepare any notes. Such self-confidence, which some of my colleagues described as arrogant indolence, was vindicated after a fashion then.
However, as anyone with access to YouTube can testify, whenever I speak publicly these days, I always use my trusted Mac laptop as a teleprompter. That way, when people take offence at what I say, which is often, at least it’s something I actually meant to say, not something I let slip accidentally.
I’m sure that, for all his bankruptcies, Mr Trump can still afford such a device and, if he can’t, one can be provided for him free of charge. He is POTUS after all.
That way, before each press conference, his advisers and speech writers can prepare the text of his replies to the likeliest questions, and they could even help the president rehearse reading from his Mac without losing eye contact with the audience.
So primed, he’ll never say “I’d rather talk to Vlad Putin than to Abraham Lincoln any sweet day” when he really means “There’s no point talking to Putin until Russia starts behaving in a civilised manner.”
There, Donald, hope this helps. We wrinklies must stick together – and actually accept that’s what we are.
And Don? Keep that lovely smile going. Sorry I said all those nasty things about you, mate. I for one should know to respect old age.