Last week, the best and worst of Donald Trump were on display within about 48 hours of one another.
The best part of Trump (by which I mean the part that strikes me as especially shrewd and politically dexterous) could be seen when he talked about why he would bring back waterboarding. Enhanced interrogation-and let’s be clear, that’s what waterboarding is; plenty of journalists have volunteered to be waterboarded; torture is something no one would volunteer to experience on a lark-is a topic about which mainstream Republican figures are, for some reason, terrified.
Yet Trump picked up the issue without even being prompted and proceeded to take an unapologetically populist stance: You better believe he’d be open to waterboarding terrorists, he said-I’m paraphrasing-because it works. I beg you to watch the video because it’s a beautiful piece of political theater. Trump brings the audience along, insisting that waterboarding works before turning, at the very end, and impishly proclaiming, that even if it doesn’t work, these scumbags deserve it. The timing, the tone, everything about this moment is political genius.