So here we are. In an interview published on Saturday, David Lynch told the Guardian that Donald Trump “could go down as one of the greatest presidents in history.” That fragment, stripped of context and placed in headlines and tweets, stirred outrage among many of Lynch’s fans, but it also caught the eyes of Trump himself, who tweeted out a Breitbart article highlighting Lynch’s apparent approval. Now Lynch has spoken himself in a Facebook post, which doesn’t clarify his stance on Trump so much as muddy the waters further.
“I wish you and I could sit down and have a talk,” Lynch says in the post, which is written as an open letter to Trump. “Unfortunately, if you continue as you have been, you will not have a chance to go down in history as a great president. This would be very sad it seems for you – and for the country. You are causing suffering and division.”
Lynch goes on to tell Trump that it is “not too late to turn the ship around. Point our ship toward a bright future for all. You can unite the country. Your soul will sing. Under great loving leadership, no one loses – everybody wins. It’s something I hope you think about and take to heart. All you need to do is treat all the people as you would like to be treated.”
For those who found Lynch’s initial comments naive at best, this addition won’t do much to change their minds. In the Guardian interview, Lynch was clear that he meant Trump could be “great” in the sense of being influential, but to say that Trump’s presidency has “disrupted the thing” is to speak from a place of insulation and privilege—underlying it is a sense that disruption is a good in and of itself, from a person who knows that their own life is unlikely to change no matter what. It’s no less guileless to suggest that all Trump needs is a good talking-to, or that he possesses either the opportunity or the ability to unite the country.
Lynch’s work has never been overtly political, so it’s not surprising that his thoughts on matters of state aren’t especially sophisticated, or even solidly formed—he supported Reagan in the 1980s, and Bernie Sanders in the last election cycle. But if there’s one thing Lynch does believe in, at least to judge from his art, it’s evil, and this far into Trump’s presidency, he ought to know it when he sees it.