The president sets a tone for the nation. Whether he likes it or not, every president’s words have to be carefully selected and choreographed, not just for political impact but primarily for avoiding the dispatching of the wrong message. In the past, this rule has kept presidents out of trouble for the most part, given the immense degree of responsibility of the office.
Donald Trump doesn’t really care about any of that. Long ago, Trump decided to, instead, blurt his version of his base’s story — reflecting back upon his Red Hat crowds their anger, resentments, and especially their fears, without any filter or qualifiers.
Before he ever descended the escalator at Trump Tower, Trump decided to re-brand his own status as a Manhattan billionaire (allegedly) and a tough-talking TV celebrity. From the start, Trump cloaked himself in the grievances of white male baby-boomers, while also providing a kooky, unhinged grandpa-figure for a lost generation of Millennial men raised by internet discussion forums. None of this is original, of course. Trump’s entire political persona is borrowed from Fox News — he’s deliberately hijacked the Fox News mentality and weaponized it, figuring that the cable newser’s viewers were a ripe faction to exploit.
Trump wasn’t wrong to latch his orange wagon to Roger Ailes’ star. Fox News almost literally brainwashed an entire generation of older Americans, ripe for the plucking. As much as Trump has piggybacked his “economic successes” to the trends of the previous administration, he’s also stealing outright the Fox News platform and calling it his own. Among the many Ailes platform planks, Trump has elevated the racial animosity of the network, along with its penchant for conspiracy theories and wild political tall tales, disconnected from actual facts.
If you happen to be a villain, it’s a solid plan on paper. In execution, it’s considerably more harrowing.
Trump simply doesn’t care if his words are taken literally. In the case of Wednesday’s attempted assassinations, he’ll never accept responsibility for instigating such attacks by relentlessly demonizing the press as “the enemy of the people,” or Hillary Clinton as a criminal who should be summarily locked up. None of that matters to him because he can easily deny it and his cult disciples will believe him. The political bounce he gets by communicating strictly with his base and inflaming their misled biases is more important to him than whatever unintended consequences arise, such as terrorist attacks against an entire roster of his repeatedly announced political enemies.
We already watched him on Wednesday launching into part one of his process on this matter. Trump will continue to confound logic by gaslighting and “owning” the Normals. On one hand, Trump will condemn the violence and vow to investigate it. He has no intention of actually investigating anything, of course, because such a probe will expose his own part in this plot.
Nevertheless, he’ll continue to play the Eddie Haskell in all of this by appearing somber… so somber. Then, with this as prologue, Trump will backslide into screeching about “enemies of the people,” while soaking in every syllable of the “CNN sucks!” chants at his rallies. Even if he plays it safe Wednesday night in Wisconsin, he’ll still go there as soon as he feels the time is right, even though the time will never be right.
Chances are, Trump will eventually hork some of the nonsense he watched on Wednesday: This is a Democrat hoax, he’ll say. Or he’ll merely disassociate his usual horseshit from the consequences of it, perhaps blaming the Democrats for, he says, encouraging violence and the threat of “the angry mob,” which seems to have clearly triggered the bomber’s response. Besides, he’s fully invested in his “jobs not mobs” hashtag, so don’t expect him to back down from his brand or from scapegoating his usual Democratic targets.
Trump desperately needs the Republicans to emerge victorious in the midterms and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to avoid the Democrats suddenly acquiring control over the House of Representatives and, with it, attaining subpoena power. He’s willing to use human shields in this endeavor, so we shouldn’t expect any reduction in the same language he’s used since the beginning — language that’s only grown more inflammatory since he’s been gifted the presidency by Vladimir Putin.
There will be no contrition. Even if someone had been killed Wednesday, there’s no way Trump, Fox News, or their Red Hat loyalists will ever accept that their behavior led to death. So, we shouldn’t expect a casualty-free series of bombings to shake them out of their brainwashed torpor.
But the rest of us — the Normals — will know who and what began this slow descent into violence and political torment. It’s the gang that’s never condemned the bombings of hundreds of abortion clinics. It’s the gang that cheered for Trump as he praised as “good people” the group of Nazis that plowed a car into a crowd of Charlottesville protesters. It’s the gang that laughed and jeered while Trump favorably imitated the body-slamming of a journalist. It’s the gang that made it okay for Trump to, again and again, threaten violence against Democrats, telling his rally-goers to “knock the crap out of” their enem and that’s it’s too bad “nobody wants to hurt each other.”
And since Trump has no plans to stop, it’s time to make sure we hold him responsible with our votes and with our voices on November 6.
13 days to go…