I love the setup for this.
Apparently Alexandra Pelosi, who is Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, was able to get Trump to agree to read a portion of the Constitution for a documentary she was making called “The Words that Built America.”
Interestingly enough Trump had no idea that Alexandra was Nancy’s daughter, or he definitely would not have agreed to participate, but as it turned out he had significant difficulties.
Here, let Vanity Fair describe what happened next:
On this day Trump seemed stiff and uncomfortable. Though he was technically in his own home, he did not greet his guests. Rather, he stood waiting for someone to approach him. Pelosi moved in to thank Trump for participating in this special history project, but he appeared to have no idea who she was, apparently not briefed on her political lineage or her role as the director. The president asked for some water, and with no staff bringing any to him, Pelosi handed him a bottle of Aquafina from her purse. “I’ve been into the White House,” Pelosi later said of visits to see previous presidents. “There are always protocols. Here there were no rules, no protocol.” She added, “There’s so much wrong with the whole thing. I’m thinking, Isn’t there someone who’s supposed to guard what he’s eating and drinking?”
Meanwhile, a White House staffer gave the other crew members instructions about what they could and could not do with the president. The very first rule was for the makeup artist: Do not touch the president’s hair. On his face, light powder only. The next instruction was for the technical crew: Could they make the lighting a little more orange? The president preferred a warm glow on camera. The mention of “orange” struck some in the room as an odd choice. Outside the bubble of the White House, late-night TV show hosts and cartoonists had been mocking the perpetually orange hue of Trump’s skin.
Pelosi had let presidents and vice presidents choose the portion of the Constitution they wanted to read. Many were wary of reading the section on the rules for impeachment or foreign emoluments. Trump had selected the opening of Article II, the part of the Constitution that addresses a president’s election and the scope of his or her power. It would normally have been the perfect selection for a president—but was an ironic one for Trump, who had spoken of his desire to exercise his executive power as much as possible, including by threatening Congress and challenging the judiciary.
With LED lights on stilts in front of him, Trump took his seat. “You’re lucky you got the easy part,” Pelosi told him cheerfully. “It gets complicated after this.” But the president stumbled, trying to get out the words in the arcane, stilted form the founding fathers had written. Trump grew irritated. “It’s very hard to do because of the language here,” Trump told the crew. “It’s very hard to get through that whole thing without a stumble.” He added, “It’s like a different language, right?” The cameraman tried to calm Trump, telling him it was no big deal, to take a moment and start over. Trump tried again, but again remarked, “It’s like a foreign language.”
The section, like many parts of the Constitution, was slightly awkward—an anachronistic arrangement of words that don’t naturally trip off the tongue. Members of the crew exchanged looks, trying not to be obvious. Some believed Trump would eventually get it, but others were more concerned. The president, already bristling about his missteps, was getting angry. He chided the crew, accusing them of distracting him. “You know, your paper was making a lot of noise. It’s tough enough,” Trump said.
“Every time he stumbled, he manufactured something to blame people,” another person in the room recalled. “He never said, ‘Sorry, I’m messing this up.’ [Other] people would screw up and say, ‘Ohhhh, I’m sorry.’ They would be self-effacing. He was making up excuses and saying there were distracting sounds.… He was definitely blaming everyone for his inability to get through it. That was prickly, or childish.” Though stiff, he eventually made it through without any errors.
Pelosi had a number of other folks read a section, including Ted Cruz, Mike Pence, and even Dick Cheney, none of who had nearly the problems that Trump struggled to overcome.
It was almost as if he had never seen the Constitution before.
Gee, I wonder why that could be?