Donald Trump came to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday night, and the host got steamrolled, just like pretty much everyone who has tried to crack the Yakking Enigma That Is Trump ever since he announced his candidacy for President.
Colbert tried flattery (“You’re the leader!” — of the polls, that is), abjectness (“I apologize,” he said, for mean things he’s said about Trump in the past, inviting Trump to apologize to someone, anyone, to no avail), and tossed him a softball question Colbert called a “meatball” (“Barack Obama — born in the United States?”). Trump, however, wasn’t playing: “I don’t talk about that anymore.”
The host also praised Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hat — “The hat should be your running mate” — and suggested an addition to Trump’s famous wall to separate the U.S. and Mexico: adding “a moat filled with fire.” If there was any news made in this interview, it was Trump modifying his famous theoretical border wall: He told Colbert he wants it to also have “a big fat door,” so that immigrants “can come into the country — legally.”
One Colbert observation was mightily provocative: “Republicans are pushers of the idea that money is speech, and you’re a $10 billion mouth,” a reference to Trump’s proclaimed wealth and a sentence so packed with thorny implications it required the candidate to do what he does so well: just ignore it. Unlike Colbert’s fascinatingly contentious interview with Ted Cruz on Monday, the Trump encounter was jolly and hollow. Far more amazing was a segment earlier in the Tuesday show, in which Colbert bade farewell to Scott Walker in the manner of Hunger Games’s Caesar Flickerman, with delightfully barbed looniness:
Colbert’s other guest was Secretary of Energy and chief architect of the Iran nuclear deal Dr. Ernest Moniz; before he came on, Colbert had Trump sign a copy of his book The Art of the Deal for Moniz. Trump, a critic of the Iran deal, jokingly signed the book with the inscription, “Better luck next time.”
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on CBS.