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Saturday, December 31, 2016

The man who doesn't laugh

by digby

This is an interesting tid-bit. I doubt it has anything to do with a deep understanding of modern politics and more with a deep desire to watch himself. But that may, unfortunately, add up to the same thing.
President-elect Donald Trump pays careful attention to the visuals of his interviews, often watching the clips with the sound off, according to NBC's Chuck Todd.

"I have interviewed him multiple times," Todd, the host of "Meet the Press," said in an interview with Politico. "The amount of times he spends after the interview is over with the sound off. He wants to see what it all looked like."

"He will watch the whole thing on mute," Todd said. "He thinks this way, and look, it's an important insight in just understanding him. The visual stuff is very real beyond just himself."

Trump is known to be an avid watcher of cable news and has carefully honed his public image over the years in countless media appearances and interviews.

In the 1989 book "You Are the Message: Getting What You Want by Being Who You Are," former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes shared his process on choosing on-air talent, which included watching them for about 10 minutes with the sound off.

"If there was nothing happening on screen in the way the host looked or moved that made me interested enough to stand up and turn the sound up, then I knew that the host was not a great television performer," Ailes wrote, adding, "If nothing moved me toward that sound knob, I would often recommend terminating the contract of that performer."

Karl Rove also used to say that politics is TV with the sound turned off.

Todd also had this:

"Do you know what? I’ve never seen him laugh,” Todd observed. “I challenge somebody to find him laughing, and that person has yet to find an example, in my opinion."

He isn't the first one to notice this:

Does this guy ever laugh?

He certainly jokes. He grins, winks, puckers and preens. Trump works to get his crowds to laugh, even when he's promising to make "them" stop laughing at us.
But how about a laugh from him -- from the belly, mouth agape -- a real booming, sustained cackle?

A few weeks ago, The Nation asked readers, "Have You Ever Seen Donald Trump Laugh?"

Erstwhile Gawker blogger Brendan O'Connor wondered the same back in August, only to realize with some concern that he "could not recall having seen the Manhattan real estate developer laugh -- like, genuinely laugh -- a single time. 
A Google search yields images of Trump in what would appear to be the act of laughing, and he would chortle occasionally during interviews with Howard Stern in the early 1990s, but more recent evidence had been harder to come by. The conundrum came alive in a seven-months-old thread on a subreddit called "The Donald."

The user Ebolatastic asked if anyone had seen Trump laugh "in front of a camera?"

"My gf and I are actually debating it," he wrote, "and the press has too many articles titled 'donald trump is laughing at ' right now. I can't find any footage at all and cannot recall a single moment of laughter out of him ever in like 20 years of seeing him on TV."

The responses came quickly -- but as "ImStanleyGoodspeed" noted immediately: "We all posted the same clip."

That video, from a January rally in New Hampshire, finds Trump being interrupted by a screeching sound.

"What was that?" he asks. "Was that a dog?"

"Hillary" an audience member yells back.

And with that: Donald Trump laughed.

The code had been cracked, albeit briefly. Compare Clinton, a human person who most recently served as US secretary of state, to a dog, and Trump will chuckle. But many months would pass without similar mirth, and the questions returned. 
Would there be a reprise? The Granite State supporter certainly wasn't the last to insult Clinton in that way, but the candidate had, so far as we could tell, done little more than grin ever since.

Until this weekend.

Again, it was the mention of Clinton that made him whoop. The trigger: a suggestion by Trump himself, who was speaking in Pennsylvania, that the Democratic nominee had been unfaithful in some way to her husband.

"Hillary Clinton's only loyalty is to her financial contributors and herself," he said. "I don't even think she's loyal to Bill if you want to know the truth. And really, folks, why should she be?"

And then, again, he laughed.

Case closed.

It was actually just a mild chuckle.

He doesn't laugh. But he talks a lot about America being laughed at.

I don't know what it all means. But it's weird.

That was the same rally where he said this, btw:

You look at what’s going on in the Middle East. When they bomb these cities and they’re leveled. You can imagine how many people die. She has been a disaster. But here’s a woman, she’s supposed to fight all of these different things, and she can’t make it 15 feet to her car, give me a break,” Trump said before mocking Clinton’s collapse.

He hunched over and stumbled away from the podium in a move reminiscent of Clinton’s fall before adding “She’s home resting right now. She’s getting ready for her next speech which is gonna be about 15 minutes and it’s gonna be in two or three days.”

“Now she’s got bad temperament. She could be crazy. She could actually be crazy.”

He can't even be bothered to take national security briefings.

Happy New Year everyone.