Magazine | August 14, 2017, Issue

Official Transcripts

Buckingham Palace (Wikimedia Commons)

From the December 1, 1170, press gaggle with Henry, King of England, Count of Anjou, Duke of Normandy, Count of Aquitaine, et al.:

PRESS: Your Highness, I was wondering if I could ask you specifically about your current relationship with Thomas Beckett, the Archbishop of Canterbury –

KING OF ENGLAND: Yeah, I know what his title is, okay? Archbishop of whatever, yes. I know. I was the one who gave him that title, okay? I’m very very big on loyalty and I was hoping it was a two-way street. Apparently not, which is one of the things I’ve learned since becoming King of England and all of the other things, all of which are terrific, believe me.

PRESS: What is the state of your current relationship with the Archbishop? Are you about to have him executed? You’ve made statements that suggest that you’re displeased –

KOE: Displeased? I’ll say. Had I known he was going to be such a pain in the you-know-what about this and that, would I have made him the A of C? Not likely.

PRESS: I have a follow-up. Given that Thomas Beckett is the Archbishop of Canterbury, and given that your recent statements have made it clear you’d like him to resign, what plans do you have for the contingency that he doesn’t, in fact, offer his resignation?

KOE: Okay, this is the last question I’m taking on this because, well, there are so many amazing things I’ve done since becoming King of the Thing that it’s crazy, really, people are saying this, not me, it’s crazy that we’re talking about this stuff instead of the really serious stuff I’ve done as regards the whole situation with the common-law issues, which truly, and this is not me saying this, this is lots of people, which truly boggle the mind. Is what I’m saying.

PRESS: So in other words, you’d prefer it if –

KOE: Someone would rid me of this turbulent priest? Yeah, yeah. That’s the nutshell, sure.

From the November 2, 1862, press conference with President Abraham Lincoln:

PRESS: If I could ask one about General George McClellan –

POTUS: Oy. Really?

PRESS: You’ve made statements both in public and in letters regarding your feelings about General McClellan and his use of the Army of the Potomac –

POTUS: Oh, um, is he using it? I was unaware. I was under the impression that the Army was at this juncture utterly inactive.

PRESS: See, there’s comments like that. What I’m asking is –

POTUS: Like what? Like my pointing out, quite calmly if I may add, that the Army of the Potomac seems like a nice group of guys, out there having terrific nature walks, while the Army of Northern Virginia strolls northward to become the Army of Northern Virginia plus Western Maryland and Also Probably Pennsylvania and (Fingers Crossed) Lower New Jersey. Stuff like that? Comments along those lines?

PRESS: Sorta, yeah.

POTUS: Got it. Okay. Please continue with your question.

PRESS: You seem angry, Mr. President.

POTUS: Why should I be angry? Just because a political appointee refuses to follow my orders?

PRESS: If I may, sir, do you have any plans to fire General McClellan?

POTUS: No! No, no, no, no, no, no. Of course not. Zero plans to do that. Zero. Nada.

PRESS: Sir?

POTUS: Obviously I’m going to fire him. Probably today. I mean, hello?

From the June 21, 1941, press availability with Chancellor Adolf Hitler, Der Führer:

DF: Yes, Jurg, you in the back, you have a question?

PRESS: Yeah, sir, I was wondering about recent troop movements along the Polish–Russian border and how these might seem to contradict the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, which you have previously suggested was the cornerstone to peace in the region.

DF: So glad you asked that. Jurg, was it? Well, Jurg, see, the thing is, we have a non-aggression pact with Russia which is really predicated on the whole idea that, Hey! Let Germany pay for it, let the German volk just suck it up and take this crap when the truth is, those countries are kinda second-rate, if you ask me. So are we rethinking a lot of really bad treaties done by people who are really bad at negotiating? Yes. That’s a definite ja.

PRESS: So we’re going to war with Russia? A country that you signed a treaty with?

DF: Did I sign it? A lot of people are saying I didn’t, and that I shouldn’t have.

PRESS: Wait, so you did?

DF: Aren’t you tired of losing, Jurg?

PRESS: I don’t see how we’re losing, sir, by living up to our treaties.

DF: This is why people hate the media, Jurg. Next question.

In This Issue

Articles

Features

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

The Radical

Long after Henry David Thoreau’s death in 1862, Walt Whitman praised him for his “lawlessness -- his dissent -- his going his own absolute road let hell blaze all it ...

Sections

The Week

The Week

‐ George Romero, 1940 –2017. Rest in peace — please. ‐ The New York Times has revealed that, in June 2016, Donald Trump Jr. got an e-mail from Rob Goldstone, a ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

THE CUSP OF SUMMER Geese in skies are on the wing. The pointed flock, triangle-shaped, Announce with honks the start of spring When tall green trees are softly draped. Trumpeting starts off everything Once more. Black ...
Letters

Letters

A Bleak Future for Wage Growth Robert VerBruggen’s “conundrum” about wage-growth stalling (“A Wage-Growth Conundrum,” July 31) clears up when you realize that the categories of capital, labor, and productivity as ...

Most Popular

Culture

White Cats and Black Swans

Making a film of Cats is a bold endeavor — it is a musical with no real plot, based on T. S. Eliot’s idea of child-appropriate poems, and old Tom was a strange cat indeed. Casting Idris Elba as the criminal cat Macavity seems almost inevitable — he has always made a great gangster — but I think there was ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Other Case against Reparations

Reparations are an ethical disaster. Proceeding from a doctrine of collective guilt, they are the penalty for slavery and Jim Crow, sins of which few living Americans stand accused. An offense against common sense as well as morality, reparations would take from Bubba and give to Barack, never mind if the former ... Read More
Politics & Policy

May I See Your ID?

Identity is big these days, and probably all days: racial identity, ethnic identity, political identity, etc. Tribalism. It seems to be baked into the human cake. Only the consciously, persistently religious, or spiritual, transcend it, I suppose. (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor ... Read More
Health Care

The Puzzling Problem of Vaping

San Francisco -- A 29-story office building at 123 Mission Street illustrates the policy puzzles that fester because of these facts: For centuries, tobacco has been a widely used, legal consumer good that does serious and often lethal harm when used as it is intended to be used. And its harmfulness has been a ... Read More