The mirth on Twitter after Donald Trump’s eighty-five-minute Saturday night speech was that the ex-President had put on his pants backwards. The Trump detractors got the argument backwards: Trump’s pants were actually on fire.
The tower of lies, presented to North Carolina Republicans, is designed to create an alternative reality for voters on the right, and to cement in place Trump’s role as the Republican Party’s not-to-be disputed boss and 2024 nominee.
Don’t cheer. Don’t chuckle. The man is a threat to the republic.
He continues to undermine faith in the electoral process, wildly claiming that “thousands” of dead people voted last November, in an election that was “the crime of the century.” How come? Joe Biden and the Democrats used “COVID-19 and the mail-in ballots to steal an election,” with Trump adding: “What happened to this country in that last election is a disgrace.”
He cheered on efforts by Republican legislatures to limit and restrict voting rights, shouting out falsehoods about drop boxes and mail-in ballots. With allowances only for mail-in ballots for the sick, he advocated that all Americans be required to line up on Election Day. Restore hours-long lines in minority precincts.
With the nation slowly returning to post-pandemic normalcy, Trump trumpeted what has become the right wing’s lie of the hour.
Trump demonized Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, blamed China for the novel coronavirus and – in one line that really went over – demanded $10 trillion in “reparations.”
The disinformation campaign – waged morning to midnight on Rupert Murdoch’s profit generating Fox cable channel – has a trio of goals.
Distract public attention from a vastly effective vaccination campaign. Draw attention away from the Trump regime’s laggard and chaotic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dump on the World Health Organization, which the Biden administration has rejoined.
As in all things Trumpy, there is self-celebration.
“Now everybody is agreeing that I was right when I very early on called Wuhan as the source of COVID-19, sometimes referred to as the China Virus [but only by racists]. To me it was very obvious, from the beginning, but I was badly criticized, as usual. Now they’re all saying, ‘He was right’.”
We are likely to see much more of this in weeks ahead.
While American presidents by tradition keep a low profile after leaving office – except for Ronald Reagan’s trip to Japan where the Gipper was paid $3 million to give two speeches – Trump is hitting the hustings with campaign-style speeches. He is playing kingmaker, using Saturday’s appearance to endorse Representative Ted Budd for North Carolina’s open Senate seat.
He is rousing followers to put the fear of God in Republican office holders who do not do his bidding. A convention of Georgia Republicans on Saturday booed Governor Brian Kemp, who refused to overturn Joe Biden’s November victory in the Peach Tree State. And he is laying groundwork for a 2024 run.
Daughter-in-law Lara Trump, on Saturday, said “the Donald” has gone two-for-two in carrying North Carolina. Why not make it three-for-three, she asked.
Of course, that assumes Trump won’t be “reinstated” to the White House this August, as a result of Arizona Senate Republicans efforts to “recount” Maricopa County ballots or perhaps the latest Georgia lawsuit.
In a new video for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Trump declares: “We’re gonna take back the Senate, take back the House and we’re gonna take back the White House – and sooner than you think.”
Up front in the Greensboro, North Carolina, audience was ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. The New York Times has just exposed that Meadows repeatedly pressured the Justice Department to investigate conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, in weeks before Trump left office (and instigated the January 6th assault on the U.S. Capitol).
Justice was expected to “investigate” a theory that Trump opponents in Italy had deployed military technology and satellites to remotely tamper with voting machines in the United States to switch Trump votes to Joe Biden.
At the same time, of course, Trump was pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, “So look, all I want to do is this. I just want to fine 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.”
Trump is now out to purge Raffensperger, a Republican who is up for reelection in 2022. He has endorsed Republican challenger Representative Jody Hice.
Trump is not only prepping to run again, but he is running from multiple investigations, including in his old home state. The comptroller of the Trump Organization was called before a special grand jury on Friday, as part of an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney and New York State Attorney General.
They are looking at possible criminal manipulation of property valuations.
It will be argued, of course, that Trump is hurting Republicans’ prospects in 2022 with his false claims and conspiracy theories, and by seeking to purge such Republican officeholders as Senator Lisa Murkowski, R‑Alaska, and Representative Liz Cheney, R‑Wyoming. Nor is the party’s image helped by Senator Mitch McConnell, R‑Kentucky, blaming Trump for the January 6th insurrection, then saying he would vote in 2024 to put Trump back in the White House.
Still, then “45th President of the United States,” as Trump fashions himself, has a big following who believe his fantasies.
Even the relatively subdued North Carolina crowd erupted in cheers when he falsely declared: “I’m not the one trying to undermine American democracy. I’m the one who’s trying to save it.” They also cheered lustily for restrictions designed to stop Black, Brown, Indigenous, and young people from voting.
Lies work when repeated often enough, and not refuted.
Just remember losing Democratic candidates whose managers have declared: “The American people are too smart to believe something like that.”
Music to the ears of Lee Atwater in 1988 and Karl Rove in 2004.
Trump is back.
Expect a summer full of rallies, camp followers spouting Q‑Anon nonsense, and Trump leaving the stage to ovations that would send Hitler to bed happy.