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Trump's comment leaves CNN panel dismayed

CNN analysts react to President Trump's statement that he would have made a "good general" after he suggested that the US should let warring parties in the Middle East fight each other without US involvement.

Posted: Jan 3, 2019 3:13 PM
Updated: Jan 3, 2019 3:36 PM

President Donald Trump celebrated the new year with a 90+ minute Cabinet meeting on Wednesday -- and cameras were rolling the entire time.

Like much of Trump's presidency, the event felt entirely free-form -- as if Trump was making all of it up as he went. He seemed to support the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, proclaimed that he would have made a good military general and spouted falsehoods at an alarming rate -- even for him.

I went through the transcript of the question-and-answer portion of Trump's Cabinet meeting and picked out the most, uh, noteworthy lines. They're below.

1. "I've heard numbers as high as $275 billion, we lose on illegal immigration."

Eh, not really. Also, away we go!

2. "And you know, it's not all about the rich countries, because the rich countries really do take advantage of us, because they pay a very small percentage of their military, and they cheat on trade."

So much stream of consciousness, so little time.

3. "There's some horrible things going on in the world, and we want to help those people."

Worth noting: Despite the CIA concluding that Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman was personally involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Trump has said no one can know the truth -- and even if we did know the truth it wouldn't be worth risking our financial relationship with Saudi Arabia. So, there's that.

4. "When they say I'm not popular in Europe, I shouldn't be popular in Europe."

One of the least covered but most important aspects of the Trump presidency is how he, unlike every president that has come before him, simply does not believe in the coalition built in the aftermath of Word War II.

5. "I don't care about Europe."

See No. 4.

6. "I know every angle."

[nods]

7. "I could be the most popular person in Europe. I could be -- I could run for any office if I wanted to, but I don't want to."

So. Wait. Trump is saying he could run for any office in Europe? I am pretty sure that's not true....

8. "I mean, I could give you an example where I get along very well with India and Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, but he's constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan, OK?"

India was, um, not pleased with this taunt.

9. "We're supposed to say 'Oh, thank you for the library.' I don't know who's using it in Afghanistan, but one of those things."

So, Trump believes a library in Afghanistan is pointless because it's in Afghanistan and, therefore, people won't use it? Got it!

10. "And you know, look, I endorsed (Mitt Romney), he thanked me very profusely, he was very nice."

This is a good dig by Trump -- highlighting the fact that Romney is speaking out against him only now that the political risks for doing so are tiny.

11. "We've got the greatest tax cuts ever"

It's sort of hard to quantify "greatest" but Trump has repeatedly said that his tax cut was the largest in history. It was not.

12. "The deductible is so high, unless you get hit by a tractor you can't even use them, nobody's ever seen anything like it."

Do a lot of people get hit by tractors?

13. "I have great popularity in Utah"

"No state has seen President Trump's approval rating drop further than Utah, new poll shows"

14. "President Obama fired him and, essentially, so did I. I want results."

Trump is talking about former Defense Secretary James Mattis. He's not talking about him accurately, however. Mattis resigned in protest in the wake of Trump's decision to pull US troops out Syria. Trump didn't "essentially" fire him. At all.

15. "Russia used to be the Soviet Union, Afghanistan made it Russia because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan -- Russia."

Looks, I've seen "Spies Like Us." I know about Russia. And the Soviet Union. And all that.

16. "The problem is it was a tough fight and, literally, they went bankrupt, they went into being called Russia again as opposed to the Soviet Union. You know, lot of -- a lot of these places you're reading about now are no longer a part of Russia because of Afghanistan."

It's impossible to overstate how little sense this makes. And how historically inaccurate it is.

17. "I think I would've been a good general, but who knows."

We will never know. Mostly because Trump is not now and never was in the military. Including during the Vietnam War when he got five deferments -- including one for bone spurs.

18. "We're talking about sand and death. That's what we're talking about."

The President of the United States offers his thoughts on Syria.

19. "Now, the Kurds, it's very interesting, Turkey doesn't like them; other people do."

The Kurds: Some people say they are great, some say they aren't. We may never know!

20. "I had a meeting at the Pentagon with lots of generals -- they were like from a movie, better looking than Tom Cruise and stronger -- and I had more generals than I've ever seen."

This is so revealing. All of life is a casting call for Trump. These generals were good because they were good looking and strong. Even more than Tom Cruise!

21. "I said, this is the greatest room I've ever seen. I -- I saw more computer boards than, I think, that they make today."

"Computer boards."

22. "Iran is pulling people out of Syria -- they can do what they want there, frankly -- but they're pulling people out."

This is an interesting take on the Middle East. And one that Israel likely will be interested in hearing more about.

23. "We're getting out, and we're getting out smart, and we're winning. We're winning, OK?"

Um, OK?

24. "I never saw anything so beautiful in my life."

The birth of his child? His bride on their wedding day? Nope! He's talking about the House vote for $5 billion in wall funding in late December.

25. "Can you imagine me having that power? Wouldn't that be scary? Right?"

Trump is referring here to then-President Barack Obama's decision to create the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, essentially allowing children brought into the country illegally to remain without fear of deportation. But man oh man, that quote out of context is really something.

26. "Could be a long time and it could be quickly. Could be a long time."

What an answer to the question of how long the government might be shut down! Could be a while. Might not be. But could be!

27. "It's a big, big house. Except for all the guys out on the lawn with machine guns. Nicest machine guns I've ever seen."

Even when talking about the Secret Service that protect the White House, Trump has to exaggerate. These weren't just machine guns. They were the "nicest machine guns ever."

28. "I was waving to them. I -- I never saw so many guys with machine guns in my life."

Many people are saying it was the most -- and most beautiful -- machine guns ever used in one place.

29. "Secret Service and military, these are great people and they don't play games. They don't, like, wave. They don't even smile."

Secret Service: not big wavers. Also, anti-smiling.

30. "Look, look, when they say the wall's immoral well then you -- you've got to do something about the Vatican because the Vatican has the biggest wall of them all."

Bizarrely, this is not the first time Trump or a top aide has attacked the Vatican for its wall. Back in 2016, Trump aide Dan Scavino tweeted that the Pope was a hypocrite on immigration because Vatican City was surrounded by massive walls. As CNN's Daniel Burke wrote at the time: "Yes, the Vatican does have walls, and some are quite large. But anyone can stroll through the Pope's front yard -- St. Peter's Square -- at nearly any time."

31. "Look at all of the countries that have walls and they work 100%."

OK, so, according to Trump, any country with a wall around its border is totally and completely impenetrable to outsiders.

As in, no one has ever breached the wall. It can't be breached. Unless, say, one side had an ice dragon....

32. "I could have had a lot easier presidency by doing nothing."

Ahem.

33. "People see that gasoline is way down. And the reason its way down is because I called up some of the OPEC people."

[narrator voice] That isn't the reason.

34. "I mean, I just got rid of -- I -- I wouldn't say got -- they say they're retired."

An amazing and overlooked moment. Asked what would happen if Romney didn't get on board with him, Trump cited the retirements of GOP Sens. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake -- threatening that Romney would find himself in the same position if he kept crossing Trump. Little mob boss-y, no?

35. "So Jeff Flake is now selling real estate, or whatever he's doing."

I am not sure where Trump got the idea Flake is going to be selling real estate as his post-Senate career. To the best of my searching, Flake hasn't announced what he's going to do after leaving the Senate. Also, isn't "sell real estate" what Trump did his whole professional life prior to 2016?

36. "I will tell you, we have some great Republicans, and if you look at the way they're standing up for border security, you'd be very proud of them if you're a Republican, or if you're a person that loves our nation."

So, "loves our nation" = supports shutting down the government to secure $5 billion to build a border wall. This feels like a good place to end.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 74992

Reported Deaths: 3044
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15963725
Lake7632275
Elkhart488385
Allen3937163
St. Joseph354682
Hamilton2803104
Vanderburgh199713
Hendricks1901108
Cass17969
Johnson1767118
Porter133839
Clark124447
Tippecanoe122111
Madison98765
LaPorte92130
Howard90565
Kosciusko86212
Bartholomew80147
Floyd79146
Marshall79022
Monroe75930
Delaware73852
Dubois70012
Noble68429
Boone68346
Hancock67038
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Warrick58630
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Grant52830
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Morgan48334
Clinton4403
Henry38520
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Gibson2284
Jennings22612
Steuben2113
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Fayette1907
Perry18612
Starke1787
Posey1770
Orange17324
Wells1712
Wabash1703
Fulton1692
Jefferson1652
Knox1590
Whitley1546
Tipton14311
Washington1421
Spencer1363
Sullivan1341
Clay1245
Huntington1243
Randolph1234
Newton11810
Adams1022
Jay920
Owen911
Pulaski831
Rush804
Brown741
Fountain742
Blackford652
Ohio655
Benton620
Pike560
Vermillion550
Parke521
Switzerland520
Crawford450
Martin450
Union410
Warren231
Unassigned0206

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 101731

Reported Deaths: 3673
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18483525
Cuyahoga13640500
Hamilton9689255
Lucas5377323
Montgomery439894
Summit3573223
Butler294463
Marion292945
Mahoning2566254
Pickaway238742
Stark1844139
Warren180339
Lorain180278
Columbiana166560
Trumbull1534107
Fairfield140032
Delaware131619
Licking129949
Clark115814
Lake112438
Wood105858
Clermont94111
Medina93035
Miami85338
Tuscarawas78814
Portage76561
Allen76044
Greene70312
Mercer62513
Belmont62126
Richland60812
Erie59227
Ashtabula57446
Geauga55844
Wayne54458
Ross4904
Darke40229
Huron4015
Ottawa39026
Madison38810
Sandusky38417
Hancock3793
Athens3591
Holmes3286
Lawrence2880
Auglaize2566
Union2541
Muskingum2391
Jefferson2342
Scioto2341
Seneca2223
Putnam20817
Knox2067
Washington20522
Preble2042
Shelby2004
Coshocton1946
Champaign1782
Crawford1745
Morrow1722
Hardin16912
Clinton1656
Highland1591
Logan1552
Ashland1493
Defiance1484
Wyandot1488
Fulton1471
Brown1382
Perry1363
Williams1353
Guernsey1187
Hocking1189
Henry1172
Fayette1150
Carroll1105
Monroe9318
Pike770
Jackson750
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Paulding700
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Morgan280
Harrison261
Noble160
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