…and tracks it all over our political kitchen floor! Not that the place was spotless to begin…
This edition was supposed to be about the stories that disappear as quickly as they happen—most notably Donald Trump’s frequent assaults on civility and sanity that are instantly overshadowed by the next assaults. They have become daily, demonstrating the point that I want to make.
The result: I’m overwhelmed by what bears comment. Some might tell me to just get over it, politics is by nature dirty. But 2016 beats even the lowest points of 1988, the previous record-setter in my memory. So this week’s rant will be about the memorable, rather than the forgotten. But I promise you, I will not forget.
Trump had his first truly bad campaign week following the Democratic National Convention. And well-earned it was. First, polls taken in the DNC’s immediate aftermath kicked him in the teeth. He then whipped himself bloody during a protracted battle in the press with Muslim parents who lost a son serving in the U.S. Army in 2004, Afghanistan.
Captain Humayun Khan died protecting his fellow soldiers—and his tragic end would draw a river of Republican tears if they were playing patriot. But they weren’t that week, and not the next week, and not even now. It’s the Democrats waving the flag. How times change!
Trump began his worst week yet by playing knee-jerk retaliatory hardball with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, a fight he seemed not to realize that he could not win. Some of his surrogates still don’t know that; they’re so intent on defending their superhero that they continue to attack the Khans—now with completely outlandish conspiracy theories.
I watched Trump blow it with these grieving-but-patriotic parents on the news and figured that his horrible poll numbers reflected that. Or any of the many other stupid things he was doing. But now I read that Hillary’s yuuuge bounce in the polls following the Democrats’ convention came from almost none of that. Just from the convention, and her TV advertising up to then…
…meaning that collateral damage from Trump’s inhumane attacks on the Khans had yet to be fully realized. I feel guilty about the grim giddiness that seizes me when I look at those new poll numbers, devastating to the Trump campaign. How dare I feel good about any aspect of a soldier’s death. But even under that guilt, I want the story to stick around, unlike so much offensive behavior that has been swept away by new offensive behavior.
I needn’t worry; that particular stupidity does seem to have legs, despite Trump’s attempts to push it aside with new offenses. I’m talking daily forays into tastelessness, people. The Donald pivoted for the general campaign, all right. He drove deeper into the mud.
Over the weekend he tried to reverse his public psychiatric evaluations with repeated assertions that Hillary is unhinged. Yes, really. You’ve read some of the “mirror, mirror” jokes? He’s repeating what “many people are saying” about him and pointing elsewhere. And fooling no one.
On Monday August 8, he assured an audience that Hillary’s stolen emails had caused the death of an Iranian defector. On Tuesday, he suggested that “second amendment people” could make sure that a just-elected President Hillary Clinton did not appoint liberal justices to the Supreme Court.
That clear incitement to assassination was as bald as Trump is beneath the cotton candy on his head. His defenders were as crazy as, well, Rudy Giuliani—one of those defenders. Trump says shoot her, and Giuliani blames Hillary. “Donald was talking about voting.” Yeah, right.
If I suggested that someone should shoot Hillary, speaking it into a microphone in front of a crowd, I promise you that the Secret Service would pay me a visit. Immediately. Are they too busy protecting Trump to castigate him?
For me, the worst part of that clip is how funny Trump’s audience thinks the idea of murder is. Forget about lock her up. Watch that clip and pull your jaw off your chest. And this just the latest of, ha-ha, multiple “joking” death threat suggestions from Trump people:
- Trump adviser Al Baldasaro wants Clinton executed by firing squad for treason.
- Trump ally Roger Stone predicts a “bloodbath” in the streets if Trump is denied the presidency.
- Trump’s butler wants to hang President Obama for treason.
Enough. Way, WAY more than enough. I cannot find forgiveness or compassion in my heart for anyone who votes for this fascist—a man who clearly expects to rule as a fascist. As Obama reminded us a couple of weeks ago: “We don’t look to be ruled.”
Given a microphone and TV cameras, Trump can’t stay out of his own way. Or distinguish between what he’s watched on TV and what he’s fantasized. Start with all those Muslims cheering the fall of the World Trade Center towers on September 11—a video that Trump watched on the flickering screen of his imagination.
Not so long ago he spastically mocked a disabled reporter’s memory (incorrectly, I must add). Now consider this hybrid of Trump’s imagination, memory and inability to admit a mistake…
Wednesday, August 3: During a rally in Daytona Beach, Florida, Trump described in detail a TV video of pallets of money being unloaded from an airplane. Top secret stuff, shot in Iran, obviously by their military! “I’ll never forget the scene this morning. I don’t think you’ve heard this anywhere but here ― Iran provided all of that footage, the tape, of taking that money off that airplane.”
You’re right, sir. We didn’t hear it anywhere else.
What he actually saw was a months-old and publicly available video, shot in Geneva, Switzerland, of Iranian-held U.S. hostages walking off an airplane. There was no exchange of cash, it was not top secret, not a military tape and not provided by Iran—all claims Trump made in his speech.
Thursday: After hours of network TV raking him over the coals for the mistake, Trump’s campaign admitted that Donald had watched the footage from Switzerland. I can’t say what meds he might have been taking at the time.
Apparently the campaign didn’t get that memo to The Man: on Thursday afternoon, Trump repeated the lie in Portland, Maine. “It was interesting because a tape was made. You saw that? With the airplane coming in? Nice plane. And the airplane coming and the money coming off, I guess, right? That was given to us, has to be, by the Iranians.”
Finally, on Friday @realDonaldTrump tweeted: “The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million in cash going to Iran!” To which he did not add “My bad.”
In Friday’s condemnation of Trump in the New York Times, former CIA acting director Mike Morell suggested that former KGB officer Vladimir Putin had Trump by the short hairs: “In the intelligence business, we’d say that Mr. Trump was an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”
Will any of this sink him? Awhile back, Ted Cruz’s campaign manager remembered this about the primaries: “There was a time when you wondered if the bug was going to meet the windshield or not. But … [Trump is] saying everything that you’ve always wanted to say. You might not like it, but he’s speaking for you. He’s the billionaire blue-collar guy.”
Then he added: “…this Mexican judge thing is different. That’s [Trump] looking out for himself, instead of him looking out for you.”
Up to now, Trump has enjoyed a “Teflon” exterior to rival Ronald Reagan’s: behavior and revelations that would sink anyone else’s campaign have had no ill effect. Many have made him stronger. That was then.
He’s down now, yes. By a lot, yes. But there are still three months until the election—plenty of time for this Teflon Candidate to recover and win. That’s especially worrisome when I read that WikiLeaks did not publish ALL of the Hillary campaign’s stolen emails; that they may be saving something especially damaging for publication in, say, October.
Some have suggested that Trump’s clueless behavior is really an urge to lose the election. I don’t believe that, but this article by Andrew O’Hehir of Salon about Trump’s (and America’s) Suicide Urge provocatively examines a tendency toward self-destruction by both the candidate and the country that he wants to lead.
Trump’s surreal whine of “Why can’t we use nuclear weapons?” is emblematic of the way that he “solves” real problems with fantasy solutions. Who doesn’t want a quick and painless cure to our country’s ills?
But just like weight gain and loss, the political bile that has accumulated over many years cannot be banished overnight. In this election, Trump represents the crash diet that sheds a hundred pounds in just a few weeks—and incidentally, might kill you.