Kanye West made his first television appearance in more than three months on Thursday night’s edition of “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
West spoke at length about love and fear and the future, not to mention his new album, the importance of de-stigmatizing mental health and even, um, his porn preferences.
But the polarizing rapper and mogul was curiously quiet where it mattered most: His thoughts on President Trump.
And while Jimmy Kimmel was a genial interviewer, willing to skirt the bigger issues, he did press West on his support for Trump.
“When I see people just even like go at the president, it's like, why not try love?” West said. “We can defuse this nuclear bomb of hate that we’re in as a society by thinking of everyone as our family.”
Kimmel was ready with the question on everyone’s lips: “Really?!” (He, of course, said it in a far more professional fashion.)
“I think that’s a beautiful thought,” Kimmel told West, before looking at the broader picture of what’s happening in America these days.
“There are literally families being torn apart as a result of what this president is doing, and I think that we cannot forget that whether we like his personality or not, his actions are really what matter," Kimmel said.
“You’ve so famously and so powerfully said, 'George Bush doesn’t care about black people,' it makes me wonder what makes you think that Donald Trump does, or any people at all?”
A stony West pondered Kimmel’s question, staring into the middle distance for an excruciating — and silent — three seconds.
Kimmel quickly jumped in, sending the show to commercial break, either because he could sense his guest’s mood shifting or because he was afraid the rest of the interview would be dead air. Or, who knows, maybe it really was time for a commercial.
This isn’t the first time that West has been challenged for championing Trump. It’s not even the first time he’s clammed up instead of explaining his decision.
The same day in May when West appeared on TMZ and touted slavery as “a choice” and proclaimed his love for the president, he shared another interview in which Trump was brought up.
Radio host Charlamagne Tha God asked West how he could support someone “who's clearly trying to marginalize and oppress … people that look like you.”
West didn’t have an answer for Charlamagne, just like he didn’t have one for Kimmel, either. By the time Kimmel’s show came back from break on Thursday, the interview had moved beyond Trump and on to fatherhood and fashion.
Maybe it was misguided to expect profound introspection from an interview on a late-night talk show. After all, West was ostensibly there only to promote his album, not to defend Trump or solve the culture wars or heal the political divide.
The problem, then, is that West kept expounding on his grand theories of the universe and society while failing to understand the real-life ramifications of loving everyone and minimizing the past.