On Tuesday night, as six Democratic presidential candidates faced off at a debate in Iowa, Donald Trump took the stage in Milwaukee for yet another campaign rally, the only thing he seems to enjoy about the presidency. During the rambling, open-ended speech, he returned to a theme that seems to be one of his newest fixations: complaining about household appliances that he doesn't seem to know how to work.
"I'm also approving new dishwashers that give you more water so you can actually wash and rinse your dishes without having to do it 10 times—five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. Anybody have a new dishwasher? I'm sorry for that. I'm sorry for that, it's worthless. They give you so little water. You ever see it? Air comes out. So little water," he told the crowd. At another point in the speech, he downplayed his phone call pressuring the Ukrainian president to open an investigation into his political rivals, while also joking about a former president being in hell: "Lyndon Johnson was sort of a tough guy. Can you imagine his phone calls? He’s probably looking down, or looking up."
Almost none of this registered as a blip with major news outlets. In a morning update, NPR reported that the speech "ranged widely," and that Trump "snapped back at Democrats for bringing impeachment proceedings, repeated a debunked claim that Mexico would be paying for a wall, and defended the fatal drone strike of an Iranian commander." The New York Times described the performance as "what has become his standard, rambling stump speech, which combines inflated boasts about his record, rosy memories about his 2016 victory and grievances about the way he has been treated by Democrats. His remarks, delivered in an uncharacteristically hoarse voice, were punctuated by individual protesters in a sea of enthusiastic supporters clad in red Trump campaign T-shirts and hats."
The Wall Street Journal took an even narrower view, in an article titled "Trump Uses Campaign Rally to Wade Into Democratic Debate." The Journal's summary of the rally was especially concise: "Tuesday’s rally marked the president’s second of the election year and his first time in Wisconsin since July, when he traveled to Milwaukee to give a speech on trade."
Accurately quoting Trump has long been a struggle for reporters—simply presenting his half sentences and nonsequiturs word for word can lead to accusations of bias. Writing for the Guardian late last year, Australian reporter Lenore Taylor described covering her first Trump press conference and her shock at the president's general incoherence: "In most circumstances, presenting information in as intelligible a form as possible is what we are trained for. But the shock I felt hearing half an hour of unfiltered meanderings from the president of the United States made me wonder whether the editing does our readers a disservice."
Some of the rambly weirdness does break through, like when Trump accused supporters of needing to flush a toilet 10 times after they use the bathroom at a previous rally. But on Tuesday night, Trump also admitted that he's keeping the U.S. military in Syria specifically to control oil reserves—essentially bragging a potential war crime in front of a massive audience. And he again egged the audience into chanting "lock her up" about Hillary Clinton. The president calling, again, for political opponents to be imprisoned doesn't even register as news anymore.
Julia Ioffe on the president’s grim calculus for risking a war with Iran.
Originally Appeared on GQ