- By Emily TamkinEmily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. She writes for FP’s The Cable, a real-time take on the news in Washington and the wider world. She has been at FP since the fall of 2016, before which she was an associate editor at New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. She has a B.A. in Russian literature from Columbia University, an M.Phil. in Russian and East European studies from the University of Oxford, and studied Soviet dissidence in archival centers in Moscow, Tbilisi, and, on a Fulbright, in Bremen — all of which means that at FP, she writes when she can on Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.
The history of America is a history of important decisions being made over dinner. Luminaries such as Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, for example, made the decision to move the capital of the United States to Washington, D.C. in exchange for the establishment of a national bank over dinner. John F. Kennedy put pressure on the president of Pakistan for help spying on China over dinner. And perhaps President-elect Donald Trump took the same course (or courses) for his decision as to whom to appoint to the highly-coveted position of U.S. secretary of state.
On Tuesday night, Trump and his one-time critic, former governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney, got together for a dinner at upscale Manhattan restaurant Jean-Georges where they dined on sautéed frog legs, prime sirloin (Trump and his chief of staff, Reince Preibus), lamb chops (Romney), and chocolate cake paired with hibiscus sorbet.
Twitter has feasted already on Romney’s haunted eyes and hangdog look. But after all the vitriol of the campaign trail, what was really said at that meal? Let us imagine…
Scene: Interior of Jean-Georges, a tastefully-lit and expensively-priced Manhattan eatery.
Romney: Well, thank you for the opportunity to speak again tonight, Mr. President-elect.
Trump: “Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America’s face to the world.”
Romney: Beg pardon?
Trump: Oh, I was just quoting you. What you said after my locker room talk with Billy Bush got aired.
Preibus: You did say that. You tried the sirloin, Donald?
Trump: I did, Reince. Mouth closed when chewing.
Romney: It’s true, I did say that. But a lot’s changed since then.
Romney: Well, you won. And now you could make me secretary of state.
Trump: And why do you want the job?
Preibus: Yeah, why?
Romney: Because, sir, even though I said as recently as March that you would plunge our economy into recession, and that you inherited but did not actually create business, and also I said I would vote for any of your primary opponents over you, and your foreign policy was recklessness in the extreme, and I did mention that you lacked the temperament to be president, and I did say all you offered the American people was a lousy hat, and though I may well still believe all those things, the harsh reality is that I want to be secretary of state and it is, or used to be, an honor to serve one’s president when asked.
Trump: So the tables have turned bigly, is that what you’re saying?
Romney: I suppose so, yes.
Trump: Remember when you were embarrassed to have me campaign for you even though you choked like a dog?
Romney: Is — I’m sorry, is that an expression?
Trump: Listen, do you want this job?
Preibus, mouth full of hibiscus sorbet: Mittens?
Romney: Yessir, yes I do.
Trump: You willing to humiliate yourself? I mean, really debase yourself?
Romney: It certainly seems that way.
Trump: Prove it.
Here's Romney's full remarks after dinner tonight with Trump pic.twitter.com/ufubPoDrZg
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) November 30, 2016
Photo credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images