Conventional wisdom suggests that politicians are eager to please business leaders, particularly those at the forefront of the tech industry. But Donald Trump isn’t, as most of the world probably knows by now, a normal politician – that’s why we shouldn’t be surprised that yesterday (March 6) he called Apple CEO Tim Cook ‘Tim Apple’.
The ‘incident’ took place at an American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, a group that is working together to plan the future policy direction for the U.S. to ensure economic stability and growth.
Trump just called Apple CEO Tim Cook “Tim Apple” pic.twitter.com/gTHHtjWvc9
— Sean O'Kane (@sokane1) March 6, 2019
The discussion, attended by a small group of media representatives, began well for Trump and Tim Cook, with Trump paying tribute to the Apple CEO. Trump, remembering Tim Cook’s name, described him as “a friend of mine.” He went on to say:
“he’s a friend because he does a great job. I mean, we want to get things done. Employs so many people. Brought a lot of money back into our country because of the new tax law, and he’s spending that money very wisely. And just done an incredible job.”
Trump’s mistake came later when he once again returned to Cook and Apple, paying tribute to Apple’s success and Cook’s decision to invest and grow in the U.S. while also apparently attempting to steal just a little bit of credit for himself.
“People like Tim — you’re expanding all over and doing things that I really wanted you to do right from the beginning. I used to say, ‘Tim, you gotta start doing it here,’ and you really have you’ve really put a big investment in our country.”
Then came the killer line: “We appreciate it, Tim Apple.”
Lesser people might have been mortified at being misnamed by the President of the United States, but you’d think that Tim Cook’s has a strong enough sense of self thanks to, well, being the CEO of Apple. If you watch the video, he barely misses a beat.
Trump has a history of getting names wrong. Just over a year ago, the President called Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson Marillyn Lockheed. There’s clearly a pattern emerging to Donald President’s mistakes…
"Marillyn Lockheed" pic.twitter.com/9hUbrTeXlq
— Dave Brown (@dave_brown24) March 22, 2018
What the White House says Donald Trump said
A briefing statement of the meeting published on the White House website shortly after the event finished. Here, Trump’s mistake is reinterpreted as half-formed and unfinished sentences, thanks to the clever use of an em dash:
“We appreciate it very much, Tim — Apple.”
Even if you concede that this is what happened, it’s still strange for a President to have such a relaxed approach to sentence formation at such an important event. But if you return to the video, there’s no pause in Trump’s sentence that suggests an em dash is appropriate.
Read next: Experts respond to Trump’s move on signing an executive order to establish the American AI Initiative
What was the American Workforce Board meeting actually about?
A Trump gaffe is always going to steal headlines. However, there was a serious agenda to the meeting insofar as it was an opportunity to discuss the future of the U.S. economy and how to develop a workforce that can power it.
A focal point was how Trump could balance his harsh anti-immigration rhetoric and actions with the importance of immigration to the U.S. workforce. “We have to bring people in,” Trump said. “We want them to be people based on merit, and we want them to come in legally.”