In the Good Old Days that Donald Trump talks about at rallies, jackboots are apparently the style. And I say “are” because those times never actually were. Like so many other historical fantasies, such as Saint Ronnie or the success of trickle down economics, they exist only in the phantom zone of collective modern mythology.
“You can’t even have a rally any more, with no violence,” Trump complains. More mythology. Every other candidate can. Even hatemonger Ted Cruz can hold a peaceful rally. Why is it only Trump who cannot? Hah—that’s a rhetorical question.
I’ve read that his rallies play a recorded announcement ahead of time, cautioning supporters not to touch or harrass protesters. A robot version of Trump’s meaningless disclaimer. Once onstage he defies it, of course, stoking the crowd with taunts aimed at the protestors:
“I’d like to punch him in the face!”
“In the good old days, people like that got carried out on a stretcher.”
Is it any wonder a white man in a cowboy hat sucker punched a black protestor who was being led out? Is it any wonder that that wasn’t the first time?
“Don’t hurt him. (pause) If you do, I’ll pay your legal bills.” Trump must imagine that his explicit non-suggestions somehow grant him plausible deniability. They don’t. He’s granting permission.
A March 11 Trump rally turned the most physically ugly so far. One commentator noted that there had never been a Republican rally before in downtown Chicago, concluding that scheduling one there was a deliberate setup for trouble.
I don’t know about a deliberate setup, but the most interesting part for me was that Trump triggered the violence by notbeing present. And by his own choice.
A reporter there estimated later that more than half of the people at the rally were anti-Trump protestors. Trump cancelled his appearance at the rally without ever going, citing concerns about violence.
But Trump has never shied away from confrontation. At least, not when their numbers were manageable. Baiting them and watching security drag them away is a major aspect of his schtick. My take on it? The Donald didn’t want to face a hostile majority. Security is not going to drag away half of an entire crowd (any more than the USA is going to deport 11 million people.) So he hung his supporters out to dry.
He claimed that the police advised him to cancel, but the police deny that; they had the personnel to cover and were ready to go. So it was The Donald’s decision.
The venue went from being a Trump rally overrun by protestors to a protest rally overrun with Trump supporters. Neither side departed quietly. Shouting and shoving and fisticuffs ensued. People were arrested.
After the rally, Trump talked above it all in an MSNBC interview with Chris Matthews, working hard to sound rational and sophisticated, as he had done the night before at a civilized debate (!!)—the last before the winner-take-all primaries in Florida and Ohio.
He can claim whatever he wants. Any examination of video from the past month’s Trump rallies shows clearly that his supporters are the ones pushing and striking protesters. Trump had pitched the classic majority-as-victim stance at an appearance in St. Louis just hours before the canceled Chicago rally:
Of the protesters, he whined, “They’re allowed to get up and interrupt us horribly, and we have to be very, very gentle. They can swing, they can hit people, but if we hit them back it’s a terrible, terrible thing.”
In fact, Trump supporters hit first at that rally and have been doing that for some time. So the willingness of Chicago protestors to get violent themselves should have come as no surprise. But the majority’s victimhood has always been a major component of this particular fantasy.
The unfair restraints of political correctness come up again and again. But what are Trump supporters afraid to say? Not a fucking thing. We live in a culture that pays Rush Limbaugh—and too many others—millions of dollars to broadcast their psychoses, day after day.
Yessiree, its a crime that those Good Old Days are gone. Trump uses them as justification for jackbooting a protestor. But wait—for a trip all the way back to the 18th century, listen to welfare rancher Cliven Bundy tell us “one more thing I know about The Negro” (start at 1:00 and listen for the next minute, if you can stand it).
Bundy cooked his own goose with that speech. We shouldn’t go back to slavery, just about everyone will acknowledge that. So what exactly are the Good Old Days in question? When blacks were lynched? When women knew their place, or you could put them there with impunity? Or when AIDS was “gay cancer” sent from God?
I’m already convinced that Trump will be the Republican nominee; it’s clear to me that he can’t be stopped in any legitimate way. He’s been trying hard to tone down the angry white man act, but old habits are hard to break. Especially when you’re a billionaire accustomed to defending his brand with both barrels.
Trump won the Michigan/Mississippi primaries, but spent most of his victory speech defending defunct product lines that Romney and Rubio had spent so much time attacking prior to the vote. Trump trotted out “evidence” that Trump Water, Trump Steaks, and Trump University were all very much alive. But the only customers he listed for the water and meat were his own properties.
He’s not the first tycoon to sell himself his own products, then repackage that transaction as success.
The high grades for Trump University that he keeps bringing up reflect what students thought in the moments when the course ended. High of course. What we’re hearing now from those same students reflects is what they think now, having given what they learned a chance to work (or in this case, to not work) and having given themselves a chance to critically examine what they were “taught.”
Charles Krauthammer wrote of Trump’s speech: “I don’t think I’ve heard such a stream of disconnected ideas since I quit psychiatry 30 years ago.” My wife asked if Krauthammer had quit being a doctor, or a patient. But I digress.
There’s another business that Trump failed at, that no one has mentioned. The United States Football League (USFL) enjoyed initial success during the 1980s, playing during the NFL’s offseason. Smart. Trump owned a successful team and convinced enough other owners—and thus the league—to move to the Fall and challenge the NFL on its own turf. That plan failed and the league died. Trump wasn’t the only reason, merely the yugest of several.
A SCOTUS Sidebar
I heard Senator (and former candidate) Lindsay Graham say something sensible! He pledged to vote on any Supreme Court nominee that president Obama offers. And to vote for a nominee who qualifies. That’s because an Obama nominee will likely be more politically centrist than any nominee from Hillary or Bernie. Perhaps even more than a nominee from Trump, for that matter.
I couldn’t agree more. But Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has promised to deny a vote to any Obama nominee. He won’t even hold a hearing. He’s so dedicated to oppose anything from Obama that he’ll throw away America’s best chance for a non-partisan new justice.
Time to retire, Mitch. Politics have trumped statemanship for too many years.
Does Bernie have a shot at the Presidency?
Does Hillary? Every credible source I’ve read has called for an end, at some point, to the Trump steamroller. But he just keeps on rolling. Even though the two most recent polls have Trump losing to Hillary by 9 to 13 points in the general election, that is a long seven months away.
Consider that every poll had Hillary winning the Michigan primary handily, and she lost.
Amazingly, Bernie Sanders does even better against Trump. In four of six polls from the past month, Bernie wins by double digits, and with highs of 15 and 18 points. Perhaps of more concern for Democrats is Bernie’s voters.
He’s winning the popular vote in most blue state primaries. Clinton swept the South, but they are red and that won’t happen in the general. Sanders won Oklahoma, the reddest state in the union. That won’t happen in November, either.
Trump is worried, though. Now he’s threatening to send his thugs to Sanders rallies, calling Sanders “our communist friend.” And in complete lockstep with that point of view, the troubles at his own rallies are always someone else’s fault.
Hillary has a massive advantage over Bernie with 571 super delegates. Sanders has 25. These delegates are considered the establishment’s thumb on the scales of a fair nomination process. The New York Times explains why he couldn’t win, even removing the super delegate advantage, but that doesn’t weigh the commitment of his followers.
But like Trump, Bernie has a passionate following that I can see bolting if their candidate is denied representation. What Hillary does about that, and what Bernie has to say about what Hillary does about that—the fate of our nation could hang in the balance. Trump’s followers would jump to a third party run without hesitation, but Bernie’s followers will either vote for Hillary or not vote at all.
The effect could easily be the same with either party: the other party wins. But what if Bernie got the nomination? How ugly would the campaign against him get? Could he win anyway? If he did, would the Republican establishment’s worst nightname come true—they lose the White house and the Senate to Democrats. This would approach the political revolution that Sanders has been calling for.
Blocking a Democratic President’s agenda might then fall to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Is there any hope in that situation for statemanship? Ryan displayed some in the October 2015 deal that brought him to power and extended the USA’s debt past the election, so it could not become an issue.
To be sure, preventing Repubicans like Ted Cruz from shooting his own party in the foot motivated Ryan’s decision. But not wanting to throw the country, and perhaps the world, into a financial crisis had to play into Ryan’s decision too.
That’s something to hope on.