self-awareness
February 25, 2020

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) got some blowback Monday for comments he made on Sunday's 60 Minutes in favor of late Cuban leader Fidel Castro's literacy program. It's not clear many people outside of Florida or under age 70 have strong feelings about Castro anymore — he died in 2016, after all, and Cuba is now mostly known as a hot vacation spot. And as Sanders also said on 60 Minutes, it's not like he thinks current, nuclear-armed despot "Kim Jong Un is a good friend," and unlike President Trump. "I don't trade love letters with a murdering dictator."

Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton clearly did not pay attention to that last part of the interview when he jumped in to slam Sanders for "revealing the extent of his extremism" by suggesting "Castro's communist Cuba is not all bad." So Twitter reminded him.

In any case, Sanders doesn't seem rattled by the criticism. "You know what? I think teaching people to read and write is a good thing," he said at a CNN town hall in Charleston, South Carolina, on Monday night. "I have been extremely consistent and critical of all authoritarian regimes all over the world — including Cuba, including Nicaragua, including Saudi Arabia, including China, including Russia. I happen to believe in democracy, not authoritarianism." He still doubled-down on the not-all-bad motif, saying that China, while "becoming more an more authoritarian," has also clearly "taken more people out of extreme poverty than any country in history." Peter Weber

January 29, 2018

It was the most embarrassing time of his life. Period.

During an interview with MSNBC's Craig Melvin on Monday, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer revealed that his brief tenure didn't go as planned. "I regret things that I did that brought embarrassment to myself, my family, friends of mine who have been very big supporters, where I said, 'Hey, that was a self-inflicted wound, I screwed up,'" he said. "And when you screw up, you sit there and go, You know what? It's not just on you, it's now going in and having to tell the president of the United States, 'Hey, I embarrassed myself, your administration, and in some cases did something the American people are not pleased with.'"

Luckily for Spicer, Melvin didn't ask him to rank his gaffes in order of embarrassment — Spicer's greatest hits include accusing the media of underestimating the size of the crowd at Trump's inauguration and claiming that Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons. Spicer left his job as communications director of the Republican National Committee in order to become Trump's first press secretary, and despite the gig only lasting six months and all the mortifying moments he crammed in, he's glad he did it. "Do I hope I grow as a person, as a friend, as a stranger to do better?" he said. "Absolutely." Catherine Garcia

January 11, 2018

President Trump on Thursday seemed acutely aware of the intrigue surrounding his upcoming physical exam. Asked by a reporter about his predictions, Trump said with a smile: "I think it's going to go very well. I'll be very surprised if it doesn't."

But after thanking reporters and ending the brief press gaggle, the president struck a more ominous tone: "It better go well," Trump said of the exam, "otherwise the stock market will not be happy."

Trump's first physical exam as commander in chief will take place Friday. Dr. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician who will oversee the procedure, is scheduled to discuss the results at a press briefing next Tuesday. Still, The New York Times notes, "there is no template to follow and no set precedent for administering physicals or reading our results. ... [W]hat [Trump] ultimately reveals to the public about his health will be up to him."

Trump is said to be a prodigious consumer of fast food and reportedly sleeps about as many hours a night as a college student would during finals week. The last time a medical professional was given permission to opine on Trump's health, it was 2015, and the then-candidate's personal doctor declared Trump would be "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency." Kelly O'Meara Morales

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