It is a sign of how secretive the new administration plans to be that when Donald Trump spoke last week with the Pakistani prime minister, Americans learned what was discussed not from their president-elect but from the oppressive Pakistani government’s Ministry of Information.
Luckily, ministry Press Release No. 298 — Pakistan’s official “readout” of the phone call — so perfectly captured the president-elect’s way of speaking that there can be little doubt it is close to a verbatim account. It is 193 words of unintentional literary genius:
“Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif called President-elect USA Donald Trump and felicitated him on his victory. President Trump said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif you have a very good reputation. You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to see you soon. As I am talking to you Prime Minister, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honor and I will personally do it. Feel free to call me any time even before 20th January that is before I assume my office.
“On being invited to visit Pakistan by the Prime Minister, Mr. Trump said that he would love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people. Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people, said Mr. Donald Trump.”
What made Trump’s conversation with Sharif all the more terrific, amazing, tremendous, fantastic and exceptional was that only days earlier, a member of Trump’s transition team had told journalists in India that Trump is in favor of legislation declaring Pakistan a “terror state.” The promise was huge news on the subcontinent.
The contradictory messages to the nuclear-armed arch rivals tells us something about how Trump operates: He tells whoever is listening to him exactly what that person wants to hear. How else could he spend the entire campaign whipping up crowds in fear of a corrupt global elite led by Goldman Sachs — and then, after securing victory, stock his administration with Goldman Sachs bankers?
It’s tempting to wonder how our pleaser president-elect’s other conversations would be described if we got verbatim “readouts” in the style delivered by Pakistan’s Ministry of Information:
Paul Ryan: President-elect USA Donald Trump said House Speaker Paul Ryan, as I am talking to you Speaker, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long. Your proposal to privatize Medicare is amazing, with tremendous opportunities. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play.
Nancy Pelosi: Donald Trump felicitated Nancy Pelosi on her victory in Democratic caucus election. You are doing amazing work to stop Medicare from being privatized, which is visible in every way. All Democrats I have known are exceptional people, said Mr. Donald Trump.
Mitt Romney: President Trump USA said Mr. Mitt Romney you have a very good reputation. I am looking forward to see you soon as secretary of state.
Rudy Giuliani: On being invited to visit with Mr. Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump said that he would love to have as secretary of state this fantastic person, fantastic mayor of fantastic people.
Benjamin Netanyahu: President Trump said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu it will be an honor to address and find solutions to the outstanding problem of the Iran nuclear agreement. I will personally do it.
Ali Khamenei: President-elect USA Donald Trump called Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and felicitated him on his fantastic nuclear agreement. Please convey to the Iranian people that they are amazing, said Mr. Donald Trump.
Gregory Hayes: Mr. Trump said United Technologies Corp. Chief Executive Gregory Hayes, your company is amazing, with tremendous opportunities to get billions of dollars of defense contracts, plus $7 million in tax breaks, to keep 1,069 Carrier jobs in Indiana. You are one of the most intelligent companies.
Enrique Pena Nieto: All Mexicans I have known are exceptional people, said President-elect USA to Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto. Mr. Donald Trump said because of Mexico’s terrific work Carrier is still sending 1,300 jobs to Mexico, a fantastic country of fantastic people.
Vladimir Putin: You are a terrific guy, said Mr. Donald Trump. Feel free to call me any time. It will be an honor.
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank, Washington Post Writers Group