The minority of Americans who like Donald Trump often cite his ability to "tell it like it is" as a chief reason for admiring his political acumen. This seems odd, however, as it is hard to believe someone is always telling it like it is if they are frequently forced to deny ever uttering said truths in the first place. Trump's life these days mostly consists of playing rhetorical magic tricks, thrusting unconsidered words into the atmosphere to rain down on his campaign like hellfire before attempting to whisk them back out again, leaving behind no trace, except for a few sticky Google search results. These illusions worked back when no one took him seriously, or when his "truth telling" was reserved for minor details, like policies he has no opinions on or the deficient character of his primary rivals.
Now Trump is saying things terrible enough that he can't magic away, like maybe condoning violence against Hillary Clinton or the federal judges she could one day pick if elected. That hasn't stopped him from responding to the situations prompted by his word GORP, which passed its expiration date six months ago, in the same way as usual. Curious how he does it? Next time he says something that makes America shake its head, follow along with this handy guide.
Step 1: Say anything. Literally anything.
Don't think about it too much. Just whatever pops into your head. But make sure you keep it vague. Rely on inflection and facial expressions to get your point across, not words. Also, preface most of your sentences with, "many people are saying." This will come in handy later. You can mock a disabled reporter who said you were wrong about the thousands of people in New Jersey cheering when the Twin Towers fell. Or you can say that the federal judge in charge of your Trump University case has an “an absolute conflict” of interest because they are “of Mexican heritage” and you are "building a wall." Or, when you tell your supporters that there is nothing they will be able to do when Hillary Clinton starts picking judges they don't like, add, “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.” Just string together some words. Any of them.
Step 2: Let your surrogates explain what you meant to say.
Oh dear. Everyone is yelling again. At this stage, you've probably been told to stay away from Twitter for a bit. Thankfully, the sentence that everyone is upset about is so mangled that it could have dozens of alternate meanings. Your surrogates can take advantage of the moment when everyone is busy trying to unpack your sentences by putting better words in your mouth. You can have Rudy Giuliani say, "We know Donald Trump is not particularly indirect. If Donald Trump was going to say something like that, he'd say something like that." This defense, of course, fails to note that everything controversial Trump says is somewhat indirect, so that he can say he never said it later. Send out official Donald Trump gobbledegook translator Mike Pence to note what Trump "is clearly saying."
Step 3: Send out a press release.
This is your only chance to say something professional-sounding and considered. Make sure not to mention the thing that you said in the title of said statement. Instead, make it about the "DISHONEST MEDIA." Explain that everyone is wrong and that while everyone thinks you were talking about presidential assassination attempts, what you were really talking about was unity and beating Hillary Clinton at the POLLS.
Or, you could try to deflect by invoking the XKCD rule, noting that someone else is wrong on the internet, not you.
If that doesn't work, say that you couldn't have said anything mean about the person you said something mean about, because you have many friends who are like said person. Also, make sure you use the word "misconstrued" a lot. End your statement by noting, "I do not intend to comment on this matter any further."
Step 4: Comment further.
You should probably do this part on TV. No one likes scripted Trump, so why not make things better by going on live television and getting defensive? Go on a show where the hosts won't ask you questions, but instead will let you say whatever you want without questioning your logic. Sean Hannity is always your best bet. Express confusion at how anyone could be mad at you, as you are one of the greatest and most benevolent people of all time. I mean, wasn't it obvious that you were saying that there was blood coming out of her eyes?
Step 5: Debut the "It was a joke!" defense.
Never mind that someone who wants to run a country probably shouldn't be joking about something like this. You were just being sarcastic!
Step 6: Tweet.
Surprisingly, this controversy just won't die down, despite your many attempts to keep it in the news by constantly explaining yourself. You should probably tweet a bunch of stuff trying to make things clearer. Maybe if you debut more defenses, one of them will catch on.
Try to avoid making things worse by introducing more innuendo. If you must, however, make sure to offset it with exclamation points and all-caps.
Step 7: Deny that you ever said the thing you got in trouble for saying.
If denying your actions in a tweet, make sure to use exclamation points and all caps.
Step 8: When the controversy dies down and is replaced by a new scandal about something else you said, keep reminding us that it happened.
When you run out of things to talk about at rallies because there are no good polls to talk about anymore, it's a great idea to keep bringing up the moments of your campaign most likely to sink your candidacy in the end. Wait until July to tell voters in the swing state of Colorado that what you were really doing last fall was mocking a groveling reporter, not making fun of their disability. Spend a long time doing this, because it will definitely help your campaign. When doing a long interview with newspaper reporters, give an "unprompted … five-minute soliloquy" trying to explain yourself. "Who would do that to [the] handicapped? I’ve spent a lot of money making buildings accessible.” Don't mention that you are required to make buildings accessible because it's the law, and definitely reenact the gesture you were chastised for in the first place for the assembled journalists.
Also, the Megyn Kelly blood thing. You should bring that up again on the anniversary of you saying it. When informed that your campaign told surrogates to avoid talking about that thing you said that everyone is angry about, say, “Take that order and throw it the hell out." Then tell your surrogates to prolong the controversy by going after reporters for not believing you when you said that you never said the thing that you are on tape saying.
By this point, the only coverage of your ill-considered words is your constant attempts to explain it away. That's a success, right?
Step 9: Lather, rinse, and repeat steps 1–8 as necessary.
Feel free to mix up the order, too. Just make sure you don't do anything that would force you to go through a deposition. The most important thing is that you remain defensive and indignant throughout the entire process, and blame the media and Hillary Clinton in between each step to cleanse the palate. But whatever you do, don't improvise beyond this guide. How will people know that you're still telling it like it is unless you keep repeating the same mistakes you've made since the beginning, over and over again?