PALM BEACH – I was there at Mar-a-Lago Thursday night when Gen. Qassem Souleimani got his 72 virgins.
No inside information here, but I did want to mention the president’s demeanor as he ate dinner with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy at the same time assorted body parts of the world’s leading terrorist (and those of his top coat-holders) were assuming room temperature at Baghdad International Airport.
Trump was cool, calm and collected. Everything under control. No drama, no yelling, no chest-beating or saber-rattling. No speeches. It was just POTUS and the congressman from California dining by themselves at a deuce in the Mar-a-Lago dining room.
It was about 9 o’clock, a warm idyllic evening in south Florida. I was leaving after dinner (seafood risotto) when the president noticed me and casually called me over and introduced me to McCarthy.
“Howie knows a lot about Elizabeth Warren,” he said, and then we started talking about her decline in the polls. I mentioned the rise of Bernie Sanders.
“Can he win New Hampshire?” the president asked.
“I think he’s ahead now,” I said. The president looked thoughtful. He glanced from me to McCarthy.
“Who’d be better to run against?” he asked. “Bernie or Biden?”
“Bernie!” we both answered.
Again, I’m not bringing this up for any other reason than to show how uneventful the evening seemed. If the president was anxious or nervous about the strike he’d just ordered, he was surely hiding it well.
Trump mentioned my radio show to McCarthy, and I told the congressman I’d love to get him on the air sometime. I was networking … on what Rose McGowan thinks was the Eve of Destruction.
“We have congressmen on all the time,” I said. “Louie Gohmert’s great. We used to have Bruce Poliquin.”
McCarthy grimaced. Losing the Second Congressional District in Maine hurt more than most of the 2018 defeats, mainly because Poliquin actually got more votes than the Democrat, Jared Golden. Poliquin was the first Republican victim of so-called ranked-choice voting, but he won’t be the last, not if the Democrats in Massachusetts have their way.
“We gotta win that seat back!” McCarthy said to me, as the president listened. I repeat, for a guy who would momentarily be accused on a thousand Twitter platforms of plotting to start World War III, the president seemed oddly calm.
Usually at dinner, he comes down the stairs from his living quarters, rounds the perimeter of the dining room, waves to his assembled members and then sits down at his table with however many guests he has. Thursday night, he made his way down the stairs with a few aides and Secret Service, then turned right, into what I presume is the secure communications hub of the Winter White House.
After about 15 or 20 minutes, he reemerged and headed for his table with Rep. McCarthy.
A reporter from Politico asked me yesterday, “Did you notice what he was having for dinner?”
I didn’t. Sorry, I wasn’t paying enough attention. I didn’t realize I was in Sarajevo South. I was trying to get the name of Rep. McCarthy’s press guy.
I can understand why the president might not want to talk about his punching Soleimani’s ticket to paradise, but he likewise didn’t seem in the least concerned about impeachment. He wanted to talk 2020 politics.
“Did you see Karl Rove’s column?” I asked him. “He said Biden’s the only one who’s got any chance against you.”
Of course, I pointed out, this is the same Karl Rove who was positive Mitt Romney had the 2012 election in the bag, likewise Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“When did he write this?” Trump asked. It’s understandable that he didn’t have time to read the papers Thursday. As I said my good nights,a tall guy in a suit made his way towards the president’s table. He was holding a black box in his hands.
Nobody put two and two together. Many of the Mar-a-Lago guests were still chatting about the New Year’s Eve party, with old rock groups from the 1960’s on, people like Rick Derringer and Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean.
If New Year’s had come a week later, Mar-a-Lago could have added another oldies act to the bill.
The Gap Band, as in “You Dropped a Bomb on Me.”