Interviewed by Vulture.com, former late night television host David Letterman, whose long-bearded image finally matches the crazy man underneath, waxed poetic about long-time interviewee Donald Trump, calling him a “stupid son-of-a- bitch.”
Letterman had interviewed Trump numerous times before Trump ascended to the presidency; thus felt qualified to pass judgment on the erstwhile target of his mockery.
Letterman’s odyssey into Trump-mockery started when he was asked, “Have you ever wondered what you might’ve said if you’d been doing The Late Show the night after Trump was elected?”
No, I haven’t thought about it. See, I was out running one day when he was still president-elect, and I thought, Let’s call him. I’ve known the guy since the ’80s. I was one of a few people who had routinely interviewed him. I’m not blinded by the white-hot light of “president-elect.” I mean, we elected a guy with that hair? Why don’t we investigate that? He looks like Al Jardine of the Beach Boys. I don’t know. I’m sorry for rambling. I’m afraid something has happened to me hormonally. I can’t stop talking.
Letting his rampant hormones run free, Letterman targeted the Trump he used to know:
I always regarded him as, if you’re going to have New York City, you gotta have a Donald Trump. He was a joke of a wealthy guy. We didn’t take him seriously. He’d sit down, and I would just start making fun of him. He never had any retort. He was big and doughy, and you could beat him up. He seemed to have a good time, and the audience loved it, and that was Donald Trump. Beyond that, I remember a friend in the PR business told me that he knew for a fact — this was three or four presidential campaigns ago — that Donald Trump would never run for president; he was just monkeying around for the publicity. So I assumed that was the story and now it turns out he’s the president. Now, who owns New York?
When the interviewer responded, “It’s a family. The Wassersteins,” Letterman continued:
Say the head of the family, let’s say his name was Larry Wasserstein. If Larry behaved the way Donald behaves, for even a six-week period, the family would get together and say, “Jesus, somebody better call the doctor.” Then they’d ask him to step down. But Trump’s the president and he can lie about anything from the time he wakes up to what he has for lunch and he’s still the president. I don’t get that. I’m tired of people being bewildered about everything he says: “I can’t believe he said that.” We gotta stop that and instead figure out ways to protect ourselves from him. We know he’s crazy. We gotta take care of ourselves here now.
Letterman explained that Alec Baldwin deserved the Presidential Medal of Freedom for mocking Trump, then delineated his view of how satire was vital vis-à-vis Trump:
The man has such thin skin that if you keep pressure on him — I remember there was a baseball game in Cleveland, and a swarm of flies came on the field and the batters were doing this [mimes swatting at flies] while the pitcher was throwing 100 miles an hour. Well, that’s Alec Baldwin and Saturday Night Live. It’s distracting the batter. Eventually Trump’s going to take a fastball off the sternum and have to leave the game.
When the interviewer forwarded the notion that reducing Trump to a punchline could make him seem harmless or help to normalize him, Letterman replied, “I guess it’s a possibility. On the other hand, Donald Trump can be Donald Trump, but if he doesn’t help the people that need help, then he’s just a jerk. That press conference that he held berating the news media? I mean, how do you build a dictatorship? First, you undermine the press: 'The only truth you’re going to hear is from me.' And he hires the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Steve Bannon, to be his little buddy. Bannon looks like a guy who goes to lunch, gets drunk, and comes back to the office: 'Steve, could you have just one drink?' 'Fuck you.' How is a white supremacist the chief adviser to our president?”
Letterman offered his take on various aides to the president: Kellyanne Conway: “ . . . they had to counsel her. Boy, if this administration decides you need counseling — whoa." Sean Spicer: “A boob who just got out of a cab and now here he is.” Stephen Miller: ”Wow, that guy is creepy.”
Speaking of Trump again, Letterman added, “He would really rather not have a society where free speech was going to be a factor. I’m telling you, there’s something between him and the Russians. ‘What color tie should I wear?’ 'Tell him red.’ ‘They say red, Don.’ ‘Okay, red it is.’ I do like the idea that Putin has something on Don and decided: ‘Let’s get him in office, and we’ll get things to go our way.’ That’s beginning to sound like an Alex Jones theory, but that’d be fun, wouldn’t it?"
Letterman even coined his nickname for Trump when discussing Trump’s use of Twitter: “Trumpy — my son, Harry, and I call him ‘Trumpy’ — has really got something with it. Rather than a laughable expression of ego run amok, it could be a useful tool. If we get a president sometime soon who does not have a mental disorder, Twitter will be useful.”
Asked how he would handle an interview with Trump, Letterman answered, “I would just start with a list. ‘You did this. You did that. Don’t you feel stupid for having done that, Don? And who’s this goon Steve Bannon, and why do you want a white supremacist as one of your advisers? Come on, Don, we both know you’re lying. Now, stop it.’ I think I would be in the position to give him a bit of a scolding and he would have to sit there and take it. Yeah, I would like an hour with Donald Trump; an hour and a half."
"He’s ignorant in a way that’s insulting to the office, insulting to America, insulting to human rights, insulting to civil rights."
David Letterman on Donald Trump
Near the end of the interview, Letterman really cut loose, speaking of Trump’s feud with Congressman John Lewis:
I’ll tell you what really got up my nose — do you have a minute? — was the John Lewis thing. Congressman John Lewis. Do I have the name right? So he announces he’s boycotting the inauguration. Trump hops on his Twitter device and describes John Lewis as just another all-talk, no-action congressman, so sad . . . First of all, because I’m always thinking about myself, I think, I was about John Lewis’s age when he marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Would I have had the guts to do that? The all-talk John Lewis goes down there and gets a goddamned skull fracture. I mean, Trumpy will never have to worry about a skull fracture because of the hair. Thank you! How do you know if Donald Trump is lying? His lips are moving. Thank you! But in addition to every other thing that’s wrong with the Trump, he’s ignorant in a way that’s insulting to the office, insulting to America, insulting to human rights, insulting to civil rights, insulting to John Lewis. Trump saying that broke my heart. I thought, "You stupid son of a bitch. You ought to have known better than that."