Watching a giggly Jimmy Fallon lob softballs at a smirking Donald Trump on The Tonight Show last month, surely we weren’t the only ones wistfully thinking, “What would David Letterman have done in this situation?” Well, now that question is no longer hypothetical, as Letterman gave an interview to The New York Times that ran this morning detailing his stance on dealing with the Republican presidential candidate that some consider a gift from God and others just a bloviating jagoff. (You can probably guess on which side The A.V. Club falls.)
Letterman, whose Late Show was famous for its equal-opportunity approach to savaging politicians and political candidates, says that when he had Trump on his show, he considered him little more than “the big blowhard billionaire” and “nobody took him seriously.” He adds, “I would make fun of his hair, I would call him a slumlord, I would make fun of his ties. And he could just take a punch like nothing. He was the perfect guest.” Politically, though? Referring to Trump mocking a New York Times reporter’s handicap, Letterman says, “if you can do that in a national forum, that says to me that you are a damaged human being. If you can do that, and not apologize, you’re a person to be shunned.”
And Letterman says that, if he still had a show on which he could book Trump as a guest, he wouldn’t hold back:
If I had a show, I would have gone right after him. I would have said something like, “Hey, nice to see you. Now, let me ask you: what gives you the right to make fun of a human who is less fortunate, physically, than you are?” And maybe that’s where it would have ended. Because I don’t know anything about politics. I don’t know anything about trade agreements. I don’t know anything about China devaluing the yuan. But if you see somebody who’s not behaving like any other human you’ve known, that means something. They need an appointment with a psychiatrist. They need a diagnosis and they need a prescription.
To be fair, Dave, Trump probably doesn’t know much about devaluing the yuan, either. Jay Leno, meanwhile, would probably have just asked Trump about his electric blue 1997 Lamborghini Diablo.