Donald Trump had trouble telling two blonde journalists apart. Photo: ALEX BRANDONFor a man that rather enjoys surrounding himself with blonde women, you’d think US President Donald Trump might be better at being able to tell them apart.
In what could perhaps be blamed on the time he looked directly at the eclipse without protective sunglasses, the president appeared to be confused by the appearance of two blonde reporters at a press conference in the White House.
Alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Trump held court answering questions on diplomatic matters, as well as Hurricane Harvey and Trump’s controversial pardoning of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.
As the Washington Post reports, typically this kind of gig means answering two questions from US reporters and two from the country of the president’s counterpart at the conference.
Instead, Trump went a little off-piste, taking a few extra questions, before asking Niinistö to take a final question.
Niinistö was a little surprised, but obliged the president’s request, taking a final question from Finnish journalist, Maria Annala.
“Again? You’re going to give her the same one?” Trump asked, seemingly implying that Annala had already spoken. (She had not.)
“No, she is not the same lady,” Niinistö answered. “They are sitting side by side.”
Cue the penny dropping that Trump thought Annala was Paula Vilén, who had previously asked a question during the press conference.
“We have a lot of blonde women in Finland,” Annala said, with, one must note, some excellent sass, as she took the mic.
Both have blonde hair, and also look nothing alike.
PBS Newshour correspondent Lisa Desjardins later tracked down the two journalists and took a photo of them.
“The Finnish journalists [Trump] had trouble telling apart. They are [definitely two different] people,” she wrote on Twitter.
So was it an awkward case of face blindness? Question fatigue? Or is there something further in it, in the way Donald Trump views blonde hair.
As Amy Larocca wrote in her piece, The Politics of Blondeness, in The Cut earlier this month, the new US president and parts of the US conservative media – and their surrounding political movement – has co-opted blonde hair.
“Now, blonde is the colour of the right, for whom whiteness has become a hallmark,” she wrote. “Over the past decade or so, as inclusiveness became the hallmark of Obama-era liberals, the left found feminist icons in Rachel Maddow, Samantha Power, and Michelle Obama, who make no apologies for their failure to fit traditional ideals.
But #MAGA, Fox News America is a place where all the classic signifiers of privilege and wealth work on overdrive: country-club-issue blue blazers with brass buttons and khaki pants, and above all else, for women, that yellow-blonde, carefully tended hair – a dog whistle of whiteness, an unspoken declaration of values, a wink-wink to the power of racial privilege and to the 1980s vibe that pervades a movement led by a man who still believes in the guilt of the Central Park Five.”
What then of those values when all blonde women look the same to the man who supposedly values them the most?