Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @deanofcomedy. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
Dean Obeidallah: There are two versions of Donald Trump -- the refined "fake" version and the crude "real" one
Trump displayed both sides of when visiting Europe for the G20 summit this week
There are two Donald Trumps: the “real” one and the “fake” one. We saw both on display during the President’s Europe trip this past week.
The fake Trump is the one who shows glimmers of being thoughtful, informed and presidential. We saw that Trump during his speech in Poland this week, when the Wall Street Journal editorial board, which has slammed Trump in the past, referred to his remarks as “Trump’s defining speech.” Trump apparently loved the editorial so much it’s now on the White House website.
Sure, that speech was “presidential,” with sentences like: “The triumph of the Polish spirit over centuries of hardship gives us all hope for a future in which good conquers evil, and peace achieves victory over war.” But let’s be blunt: Those words scream fake Trump.
The real Trump – the one many of us knew on “The Apprentice” and were reintroduced to when he declared his bid for the presidency in 2015 – was on display that same day at a press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda. When a reporter asked Trump if he would finally acknowledge that Russia was behind the meddling in our 2016 election, he did not offer measured words wrapped in beautiful prose.
Instead, we got the real Trump telling us, “I think it very well could be Russia, but I think it could very well have been other countries. I think a lot of people interfere…Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.”
But former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper responded, “We saw no evidence whatsoever that it was anyone involved in this other than the Russians.”
And on Sunday’s “State of the Union,” after CNN’s Dana Bash played the clip of Trump saying “Nobody really knows,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley still said, “Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections.”
Then, in true Trump style, the President added: “I remember when I was sitting back listening about Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, how everybody was 100% certain that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Guess what? That led to one big mess. They were wrong, and it led to a mess.”
And while Trump was indeed correct on Iraq, many intelligence officials refute his claim that they are wrong about Russia’s meddling.
But there again was the real Trump, this time mocking our intelligence agencies on foreign soil because he refuses to accept their conclusions on Russia’s involvement in the US electoral process. Imagine Republican outrage if President Barack Obama had gone to Europe and publicly questioned the work of numerous US intelligence agencies.
Poland wasn’t the only place Trump presented two opposing versions of himself. At the close of the G20 gathering in Hamburg, Germany, Trump tweeted: “The #G20Summit was a wonderful success and carried out beautifully by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Thank you!”
That was a thoughtful, gracious tweet which represented the United States well.
Unfortunately for America, that was also the fake Trump.
The real Trump could be seen the day before, tweeting a bizarre attack on Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager: “Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!”
If Trump is telling the truth, the leaders of the G20 countries weren’t focused on the economic and security issues of their respective countries, but instead were fixated on the hacking of the Democratic National Committee in July 2016. (If you believe that, please contact me because I have a unicorn ranch I’m looking to sell.)
Then there was the fake Trump who appeared “presidential” during the G20 summit photo of world leaders by not pushing his way past other world leaders to be in the center of the photo, as he did in a past photo op.
But the real Trump emerged Saturday, when he suddenly left in the middle of a G20 working meeting tilted, “Partnership with Africa, migration and health.”
Who did the President leave at the table in his absence, sandwiched between British Prime Minister Theresa May and Chinese President Xi Jinping? His daughter Ivanka.
Typically when world leaders leave these meetings, a high-ranking government official will sit in who is knowledgeable on the subject matter up for discussion. It’s unclear what Ivanka’s expertise on African migration and health issues is.
The difference between the real and fake Trump is as clear as Trump vodka, assuming you can still find a bottle. If you see Trump being “presidential,” you know you’re watching the fake one. Just give it a little time and the real Trump – the one who denies inconvenient facts, attacks the appearance of a female cable news host and mocks our intelligence agencies – will soon reappear.
Don’t be fooled by Trump’s “presidential” moments. They truly are the definition of fake news.