Donald Trump has been sounding nuttier and nuttier in recent days, no question, tweeting about everything from his “perfect” “beautiful telephone call” to Zelensky, to talking about a soldier “with his face in a thousand fragments,” who wanted to “rebuild his nose.” But he really pulled out all the stops in his recent Minneapolis MAGA rally. Chuck Todd announced that Trump’s worst comments were not going to be broadcast on his network, because to do so would only amplify them and that would not be good journalism to do so, because they were so inappropriate. This is similar to the decision Nicole Wallace made a while back not to re-broadcast Trump tweets, for the same reason. It goes without saying that in the history of our country, journalists have never made a judgement call to withhold broadcasting a president’s words out of circumspection and good taste.
However, I am going to quote a few pertinent portions of Trump’s travesty of a Minneapolis speech here, for two reasons: 1. It gives us a snapshot of what the 2020 election is going to look like, irregardless of who the Democratic nominee is: it’s going to make 2016 look sane and civil by comparison; and 2. it buttresses Paul Krugman’s argument, about how while we’re appalled on the one hand with Trump’s vulgar excess and unbelievable dialogue and rhetoric, on the other hand, we should be grateful for it, because Trump being Trump is in fact what is going to stop Trump — and that’s the only thing that matters, is that this madness stop.
Donald Trump: (36:13)
Two months after president Obama put Joe in charge of Ukraine policy, they put Joe Biden in charge of Ukraine policy. Listen to this. And the press will not write it. They say, “In totally unsubstantiated charges …” every time they talk about him. President Trump has said that his son walked away with a fortune. Now you know that’s a totally unsubstantiated charge. Really? It’s not an unsubstantiated, it’s fact. Joe’s son Hunter got thrown out of the Navy and then he became a genius on Wall Street in about two days.
Donald Trump: (36:49)
By the way, whatever happened to Hunter. Where the hell is he? Where’s Hunter? Hey fellows, I have an idea for a new t-shirt. I love the cops, but let’s do another t-shirt. Where’s Hunter? Where is he? Here’s Hunter, being examined by sleepy eyes Chuck Todd or some of these people. Hunter, it’s so great that you’re here, sir. Hunter, I know they’re giving you approximately $168,000 a month. I hear they paid you a big check of $3 million. I just want to speak on behalf of NBC who’s absolutely one of the worst. I just want to tell you … Hunter, Hunter I just want to tell you I couldn’t be happier for you and your family and I know you don’t know anything about energy and I know it’s an energy company, but I think they made a great deal, Hunter. And then they fly to China, and I’m dealing with people right now. They’re tough as hell, those Chinese negotiators, and Hunter, who’s not too smart, Hunter. He goes in, he has a meeting, he walks out in his fund with 1.5 billion, with a B, one point five billion dollars. These aren’t the same Chinese negotiators that I’m dealing with, I can tell you. These are not the same ones, but we are doing very well in that negotiation. Now, think of it, where’s Hunter? Where is Hunter? I want to see Hunter? Hunter, you know nothing about energy, you know nothing about China, you know nothing about anything, frankly. Hunter, you’re a loser. Why did you get one point five billion dollars, Hunter. And your father was never considered smart. He was never considered a good Senator. He was only a good vice president because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass. True. Thank you. Thank you. It’s true. It’s true. And they’re always saying the same thing. Yeah, he got a billion five, we admit it, they admit it, it’s nothing, but oh, it’s not that same thing, president Trump made a totally unsubstantiated claim about Hunter Biden and his father. It’s not unsubstantiated, you crooked son of a guns, it’s 100% true. 100%. Even the smart guys on Wall Street, and I know all of them, they are smart. They’ve never seen anything like that one before. I’ve called them. Does that ever happen? Never happens. Guy walks in, no experience, no nothing. Walks out with a billion five. Gee. Flies in on Air Force Two with his father, the vice president. Don’t forget, that’s when he was vice president. So China gives his son 1.5 billion. How would you like to have Joe Biden take over negotiations right now with China? I don’t think so. […]
When Nancy Pelosi was on television the other day … I have to say, I have to say I was very proud of George Stephanopoulos. I was very proud. It’s not often. She said, “No, no shifty shift told the truth when he said that.” Stephanopoulos said, “No way. No, no. It wasn’t the truth. It was a false statement.” No, no. It was the truth. He said, “No.” And she really believes it. So she’s either got one of two problems. She’s either really stupid, okay? Or she’s really lost it. Or maybe there’s a certain dishonesty [inaudible 00:16:22]. But they smear you, they spy on you, and they target your friends, your family, your staff for harassment, for abuse, for destruction. […]
Nancy and Chuck, two beauties, have given control of the Democrat party entirely over to the radical left, including Minnesota’s own representative Ilhan Omar. I know you people. I know you people. I know the people of Minnesota, and I want to tell you, and I also, at the same time, it’s both a question and a statement, how’d the hell did that ever happen? How did it happen? How did it happen? Congresswoman Omar is an America hating socialist. […]
Donald Trump: (56:48)
How do you have such a person representing you in Minnesota? I’m very angry at you people right now. She is a disgrace to our country, and she is one of the big reasons that I’m going to win, and the Republican party is going to win Minnesota in 13 months
Okay, I’m sure you’ve had more than enough, but this deranged screed went on for another full hour and it did not get any better. Now go to Paul Krugman’s take on Trump, generally speaking, not arising out of this particular “speech,” which is not only reminiscent of Hitler’s early rants in the beer halls of Berlin, where he got his start, but a virtual carbon copy of the Two Minute Hate in “1984.” Krugman foresaw this day. New York Times:
The surprising thing about the constitutional crisis we’re now facing is that it took so long to happen. It was obvious from early on that the president of the United States is a would-be autocrat who accepts no limits on his power and considers criticism a form of treason, and he is backed by a party that has denied the legitimacy of its opposition for many years. Something like this moment was inevitable.
Krugman then goes on to articulate how the person who is going to save us from Donald Trump is Donald Trump. He cites “one unpredictable piece of good luck: Donald Trump’s mental deficiency.”
He is….lazy, utterly incurious and too insecure to listen to advice or ever admit to a mistake. And given that he is in fact what he accuses others of being — an enemy of the people — we should be thankful for his flaws.
… if Trump were cannier and more self-controlled, the march to autocracy might well be unstoppable. He has the backing of a party whose elected representatives have shown no sign of democratic scruples. He has de facto state media in the form of Fox News and the rest of the Murdoch empire. He has already managed to corrupt key government agencies, including the Justice Department.
Indeed, these advantages are so large that the assault on democracy may yet prevail. The only reason it might falter is, as I said, Trump’s own deficiencies.
It says a lot about the modern G.O.P. that the party is still solidly behind a man so obviously, grotesquely, not up to the job (although some rank-and-file Republicans now back an impeachment inquiry). But those of us who want America as we know it to survive should be grateful that Trump is so immature and incompetent. His character flaws are the only thing that gives us a fighting chance.
I concur. I think this is the long and the short of it. The man is totally out of control and the year ahead is going to take our national discourse down even further. Trump believes that this is the only way that he can win.
And don’t underestimate the power of Fox News. Rick Wilson quipped the other day that “Richard Nixon would have killed his own dog in order to have that kind of counterattack.” That is the main difference between 1974 and now, and it is not an insignificant one. It is paramount. Back when the press was toe to toe with Nixon, facts were facts, and once proven, were stipulated to by both sides and entered into the record. There was none of this dual narrative, sci-fi-esque alternate time line, parallel universe madness in which we presently dwell and which we call the “cultural war.” In 1974, we weren’t two tribes, each subscribing to it’s own interpretation of reality, hating each other’s guts and throwing fists over bumper stickers and tee shirts.
Every time Trump has one of his MAGA rallies, the reality of what is normal presidential behavior recalibrates several notches. What was normal two days ago in Minnesota, I quite assure you, is not going to be the norm two months from now. It will be worse. You can take that to the bank.
Trump is a delusional fabulist and he believes the lunatic conspiracy theories that his aides concoct in order to explain away and justify his abnormal behavior. His authoritarian tendencies are exceeded only by his robust ignorance, of any and all subjects over which previous holders of his office were expected to have, and had some mastery, in varying degrees.
This is a guy who has called himself “the second coming of God” and ordered American companies to build factories where he tells them to. He is a would-be autocrat, and unfortunately, the GOP decided to put him at the front of their locomotive and the train of history is racing ahead, at breakneck speed, so fast that the news can barely record it, with the yous and mes hanging on for dear life and wondering when and where we’re going to crash and if democracy itself is going to be a victim. I wish I had the answer. i do not. I only know it’s going to get a hell of a lot darker, dirtier and desperate before we’re finally done.