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The Atlantic's Adam Serwer tells Jordan Klepper how to know who Donald Trump really is

The Opposition With Jordan Klepper (Screenshot: Comedy Central)

On Tuesday’s The Opposition, host and smirking faux conservative propagandist Jordan Klepper invited Adam Serwer, deputy politics editor at The Atlantic, into his equally ironic ideological Thunderdome for a chat. As ever, Klepper took the pro-Donald Trump side with cherry-picking, intellectually fraudulent glee, even as Serwer—with the game straight-facedness common to most guests of the show—laid out his own persuasive measuring stick for just what Trump stands for.


On what passed for a slow news Tuesday for Trump’s media-swamping Twitter strategy (he only called for a complete government shutdown over immigration even as Democrats and Republicans announced progress on a budget deal), it’s perhaps tempting to forget just how much of a game it’s become to keep up with the baffling, disheartening jets of word-vomit regularly spewed from the Trump White House. Administration spokes-scold Sarah Huckabee Sanders, after all, spent Tuesday’s press briefing condescendingly admonishing reporters that of course Trump was just joshing when he said yesterday that Democratic lawmakers who didn’t respond to Trump’s State Of The Union speech with proper North Korea-style adoration should be charged with treason. With a jokester like that, who can pluck out what Trump actually cares about or means from the flood of contradictory, mendacious, and/or outright appalling things issuing daily?

Serwer’s answer is simple. Look at what promises made by candidate Donald Trump have actually been kept by the present-day Donald Trump. Drain the swamp? Not hardly. Save American jobs? Please. Look out for the middle and lower class and not just himself and his richest pals? You know how that went. Safeguard Medicare, Medicaid, and healthcare for all Americans. C’mon, son.

So what are the issues that Trump hit so hard on the campaign trail that he’s actually followed through on? The ones that his base continues to hold onto despite all the blatant lies and broken promises? The policies he’s enacted that seem to indicate that—more than literally anything else—one bedrock issue truly rules them all, both with Trump voters and Trump himself. Well, Serwer and Klepper talked about two of Serwer’s most notable articles about Donald Trump. One, “How Trump Built An Obstruction Of Justice Case Against Himself” is pretty self-explanatory, although Serwer assured the grateful Klepper that an indictment against a sitting president isn’t really likely. (Cue gleeful laughter from Klepper.) But the other, entitled, “The Nationalist’s Delusion” might offer a hint as to what Serwer says is the only true “moral principle” at work here. “So he’s a guy who follows through,” nodded Klepper enthusiastically. Well, in this one area, and only this one, perhaps. Who’s got a guess?

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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.