Donald Trump’s condolence call

"Believe me": On the empathy beat with President Trump

Hello, whatshisname's widow? This is President Trump calling. I have bad news and good news.

New phone, who dis? (Photo via Creative Commons/Wikimedia.)

First, the bad news: Your husband was killed this month in an ambush in Niger. Yes, I didn’t know where it was, either. If you look on a map, you’ll see it’s very close to Barack Obama’s birthplace. And frankly, this whole tragedy was his fault. Believe me, he left me a mess. So I'm even more of a victim than you are. If I knew how to say I’m sorry, I would.

Of all the things going on in the world that I have to deal with, making a call like this is the most difficult part of my job. And since three other American soldiers were killed in the same ambush, I’ve had to make four of these calls today.

Now for the good news: This is the last of the four calls. So after I chat with you, I’ll be done! I don’t know how I got through this ordeal, but I did! And to be honest with you, I’ve done a terrific job! Everybody here at the White House thinks so!

Draft deferment

To put your loss into perspective: Four Nigerian soldiers were also killed in the same ambush. Is it Nigerian or something else? I mean, until today, I thought this place was fake news. Maybe it is, I'm just saying. Anyway, the president of Niger has to make four phone calls, too. And the phone service over there is a disaster. Believe me, I’m counting my blessings.

Now, about your son. Husband. Whatever. Your guy may be dead, but you can take solace from the knowledge that he would have died sooner or later. And with the passage of time, you’ll realize he didn’t have much of a life to begin with. Why else would he have enlisted in the army? When I was his age, I got five deferments for a bone spur in my foot. Instead of blowing up palm trees in Vietnam, I built hotels and casinos and golf clubs that employed tens of thousands of people. Do you see how things work out for the best?

Opportunity knocks

Right now, you may feel you’re alone in the world. But look on the bright side: You’re free! And your next husband could be a big improvement! I myself have been married three times, and, believe me, each one was better than the last. Here’s your chance to find yourself a winner and move up in the world!

Treat this tragedy as a learning experience. If you approach it with a positive attitude, this could be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Say, is anybody listening in on us? I thought this was a private conversation. At my end, there’s nobody here but me, aside from General Kelly and the entire Oval Office staff. 

Have a nice day!

Our readers respond

Richard da Silva

of Center City/ Philadelphia, PA on October 25, 2017

Although I didn't vote for Donald and hold no special brief for him, I find this imagined transcript falls flat on its face because it is sheerest fantasy and just plain mean. One might even call it fake news. Such a concoction seems to me almost as flawed (in this case, malicious) as the actual conversation might have been. All of God's children are very far from perfect; which is why compassion, forgiveness and mercy figure highly as aspirational behavior in religious teaching, and moral teaching derived therefrom. Down with snark. Up with sweetness and light.

Wendell Banyay

of Clayton , DE on November 01, 2017

I didn’t vote for President Trump. But as a retired soldier (Army 1977-1998), I am outraged that you used the death of a fellow soldier and the President’s phone call to his widow as a basis for satire. There certainly are plenty of policies and personal things about President Trump to use as satire. I wonder if you ever wrote about President Clinton weaseling out of the draft or President Obama referring to a Navy Corpsman as a Navy Corpseman in a speech? I read Broad Street Review for reviews of the arts, not political satire or opinions; I get enough politics from newspapers, news magazines and TV. Please, stick with your mission statement.

Jason Brando

of Mount Hamilton, CA on November 14, 2017

You should be writing for MSNBC or other Comcast properties. Your jealousy and vile barbs are an assault on fair play and the intellect.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Want previews of our latest stories about arts and culture in Philadelphia? Sign up for our newsletter.