Donald Trump flew to Charlotte on Monday morning to greet Republican National Convention delegates, but found an audience and could not resist pouring out his multiple grievances and untruths for nearly an hour.
The 2020 Republican National Convention has become an exercise of indulging Trump, and talking to and trying to hold onto the Trump base.
Non-loyalists need not watch.
Never – ever – has such chaos, so many scandals, and so much mockery surrounded a man in the Oval Office at such a moment.
As the convention began, twenty-seven former members of Congress and seventy national security officials from Republican administrations declared their intent to vote for Joe Biden. The list included arch-conservative former United States Senators Jeff Flake and Gordon Humphrey, and ex-Virginia Senator John Warner.
Former RNC Chair Michael Steele, now an MSNBC pundit, announced on the air that he’s joining anti-Trump Republican activists of The Lincoln Project.
News came from California: A judge has ordered Trump to pay $44,000 in legal fees to adult film star and former paramour Storny Daniels.
As morning turned to midday, scandal was enveloping on-leave Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., an early evangelical supporter of the forty-fifth president. The scandal involved a Miami hotel pool boy who came to know Mrs. Falwell – biblically. The former pool boy claimed that Falwell liked to watch from a corner.
The day ended with Falwell, Jr., offering his resignation to Liberty trustees, and then taking it back. He confirmed his wife’s affair, denied taking part in it, and claimed the ex-pool boy was a blackmailer.
It is hard to fathom what hits Trump on a day to day basis, and the latest crony to turn on him or be caught up by justice, or let off the hook.
Steve Bannon was a dark arts influence on the 2016 Trump campaign, as strategist in the run for the White House and later “chief strategist” for Trump.
He was caught — by U.S. Postal Service inspectors no less — skimming hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal use out of a private fund designed to help build a wall on the country’s southern border. It is a simple case of fraud.
Owing to his great discomfort with being associated with people whose wrongdoing has caught up with them, Trump has had to develop a hardly-knew-him explanation for one close ex-subordinate after another.
He claimed to have disapproved of the private build-the-wall fund, only to have television networks unearth a speech by Donald Junior endorsing the scheme.
The day of the convention also saw New York Attorney General Letitia James ask a judge to order Eric Trump to testify, and the Trump Organization to turn over information, as part of an investigation into whether Trump’s business improperly inflated assets. Don Jr. spoke Monday night to the convention.
Eric Trump is on the bill for Tuesday.
This past weekend, prior to the beginning of the RNC, niece Mary Trump released hours of secretly taped conversations with the forty-fifth’s president’s older sister Maryanne Trump Barry, a retired federal appellate court judge. “His [expletive] tweet and the lying, oh my God,” said Trump Barry. “I’m talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying.”
Judge Berry has rarely spoken of her brother, but was scathing on the tape, saying: “It’s the phoniness of it all. It’s the phoniness and this cruelty. Donald is cruel Donald is out for Donald, period.”
It has been twenty-four years since a Republican presidential nominee, Senator Bob Dole, asked: “Where’s the outrage in America?”
He was reacting to Clinton fundraising, notably then Vice President Al Gore attending a fundraiser with Buddhist monks.
The question reverberates to 2020. Opponents of Trump endlessly spotlight the headlines on their Facebook pages. Still, a chunk of the electorate – approaching forty percent – stays loyal to a serial liar surrounded by crooks.
Donald Trump’s job approval ratings have stayed pretty steady over the past five months. The base is with him. The Republican Party has become a Trump cult and, if you look at the speakers list, a Trump family enterprise.
And that is what the Republican National Convention — really the Trump National Convention — is all about. Holding the base and bestowing adulation on the chief.
With millions unemployed, and the coronavirus death total approaching 180,000, everything is about him. Donald Trump is a massively self-absorbed human being.
Each of the past week’s scandals would have consumed another president.
But we are, in a sickening way, seeing this as business-as-usual.
The president as mob boss, the crimes and ripoffs, the family intrigue, the subordinates (like Mike Pompeo and Bill Barr) ready to do anything.
If Joe Biden wins, he’ll be charged with rescuing both American government and American democracy from a deep ditch… in the midst of a pandemic.