Political News

Donald Trump was asked about Elon Musk. His answer was incoherent.

Posted January 23, 2020 11:28 a.m. EST

— For the entirety of Donald Trump's presidency, I have gone through the transcript of a good number of the speeches and interviews he has given. In doing that, one thing has become crystal clear to me: He is one of the least articulate -- if not the least articulate -- politicians ever to make it onto the national stage.

This isn't, to be clear, a judgment on whether Trump is a good, bad or indifferent president. Rather, it's to say that he lacks the ability to speak extemporaneously in anything close to an effective manner. And the effect on the viewer, listener and reader to a typical Trump answer or off-the-cuff riff is befuddlement.

That fact occurred to me this week when I was going through Trump's interview with CNBC's Joe Kernen while in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum. Here's the exchange:

KERNEN: Tesla's now worth more than GM and Ford. Do you have comments on Elon Musk?

TRUMP: Well -- you have to give him credit. I spoke to him very recently, and he's also doing the rockets. He likes rockets. And -- he does good at rockets too, by the way. I never saw where the engines come down with no wings, no anything, and they're landing. I said I've never seen that before. And I was worried about him, because he's one of our great geniuses, and we have to protect our genius. You know, we have to protect Thomas Edison and we have to protect all of these people that -- came up with originally the light bulb and -- the wheel and all of these things. And he's one of our very smart people and we want to-- we want to cherish those people.

OK, so a few thoughts here.

Trump's articulation of his admiration for Tesla founder (and space enthusiast) Elon Musk goes like this: "I spoke to him very recently, and he's also doing the rockets. He likes rockets. And-- he does good at rockets too, by the way." So, he "does good at the rockets," you say? Musk's company -- SpaceX -- has set a goal of building a "self-sustaining" civilization on Mars or, put another way, "he likes rockets."

Then there's Trump's insistence that Musk is "one of our great geniuses" and, as such, must be protected. Just like we protect Thomas Edison. Who died in 1931. But who, in case you had forgotten "came up with originally the light bulb." (Yup, that checks out.)

So far, so good!

Then, there is this coup de grace from Trump: Not only do we need to protect geniuses like Musk (alive!) and Edison (not alive!), we also need to protect the person who invented the wheel.

The wheel was invented by the ancient Mesopotamians about 5,500 years ago. So, that one wasn't an American invention. But we still need to protect it/them!

The point here is that, well, Trump appears to have no idea what he is talking about. Whether that's because he is simply inarticulate or he really believes a) Thomas Edison still currently needs to be protected and b) America invented the wheel, we may never know.

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