Donald Trump may have finally had enough of White House reporters yelling questions at him like the ones they began hurling last Friday: “Mr. President, are you a racist?”
Perhaps, that was one of his first clues that calling African countries "shitholes" wasn't going over so well. By this Tuesday, he had evolved so far away from his own “shithole” remarks that he even started embracing the concept of immigrants from places besides Norway. Here’s a glimpse of a brief Q/A Tuesday following his meeting Tuesday with President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan:
Q Mr. President, did you say that you want more people to come in from Norway? Did you say that you wanted more people coming in from Norway?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you very much.
Q Is that true, Mr. President?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I want them to come in from everywhere -- everywhere. Thank you very much, everybody.
Of course, Trump's evolution on whether he really called African nations "shithole countries" was slow in coming. Last Friday, he didn't actually deny it, rather he embraced using what he called "tough" language; by Saturday he was a bit more touchy, claiming Dick Durbin "totally misrepresented" what he said. And by Sunday, he was "the least racist person” ever interviewed by reporters.
Why the slow escalation? Because initially he thought pretty highly of his comments at the meeting—that is, until they became an international incident and it occurred to him that maybe, just maybe, they weren't so great after all.
Here's Washington Post reporting from Tuesday on Trump's slow revelation:
Trump was not particularly upset by the coverage of the meeting and his vulgarity after it was first reported by The Washington Post, calling friends and asking how they expected it to play with his political supporters, aides said.
“Everyone was saying it would help with the base,” which would agree with his characterization, one person who spoke with the president said.
By Thursday evening, many White House aides were concerned that the story was exploding beyond the usual level for a Trump controversy, but [...]
There was little effort to significantly push back on the story that night because aides knew that Trump had said it and that the president wasn’t even too upset, according to people involved in the talks.
But by Friday morning, likely while watching Fox News, it started to dawn on Trump that “shithole” wasn't playing very well.
Otherwise known as that moment when a racist realizes they're a racist precisely because they were perfectly pleased with their own comments right up until everyone started calling them racist.