Kanye West’s visit to President Donald Trump’s White House on Thursday went exactly like you thought it would.
The two men vamped for the cameras. Kanye talked — and talked — about, uh, well, lots of stuff. (Including: the Apple hydrogen-fueled plane, alternative universes, the nature of time, Adidas, Superman, MAGA hats and the 13th Amendment. And, no, that isn’t even close to a complete list). Trump smiled, nodded and then told Kanye that “that was quite something. That was quite something.”
Like I said: Somewhat predictable. Which is weird to say. But also true!
So, is there anything we can actually learn (or re-learn) from Trump’s decision to invite Kanye to the White House — and then let the rapper/actor/designer/celebrity husband just talk about, literally, anything? (Sidebar: The stated purpose of the meeting was prison reform, which Kanye touched on briefly during his 10+-minute soliloquy.)
1. Trump loves people who say nice things about him. Time and time again, he gives people platforms — or second, third and fourth chances — if they are willing to be nice to him or say complimentary things about him. This is true for Kanye, yes. But also true for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
2. Trump loves celebrities. Remember that Trump grew up amid the tabloid culture of New York City and has made his fame less on his business successes than on his relentless pursuit of the limelight. He views celebrities like Kanye as his only true equals outside of the uber-rich businesspeople he came into contact with in his past life.
3. Trump loves buzz. Death in Trump’s world isn’t to be hated. It’s to be boring, or, at least, not to be talked about. This is a man who made up a character named “John Barron” (or “John Miller”) who, Trump said, worked as a publicist within the Trump Organization. Portraying himself as Barron or Miller, Trump would call the gossip rags in New York City and talk about how many women were interested in Trump and/or who he was dating. Trump loves being the center of attention, loves being gossiped about. And bringing Kanye to the White House is a surefire way of doing just that.
The Point: For any other White House, this Kanye visit would have been beyond unusual. For Trump, it’s par for the course.