"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Greatest Show On Earth Is Coming To Town–Trump In Tulsa Was Only The Beginning

Donald Trump’s opening campaign salvo in Tulsa was vintage Trump – a loud, outrageous, politically incorrect evening of bombast, sight gags, and ridicule.  The image of Sleepy Joe Biden, pale and cramped in his basement, wearing a mask, afraid to go out, and speaking tired nostrums was priceless.  The ‘protesters’ outside the arena were not exercising their freedom of speech for an important cause, but thugs, looters, anarchists, and miscreants.  ‘Bad people’, the President said, nothing laudable or respectable about them.

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His West Point story, or “The President, The General, and The Ramp” was worthy of Eddie Murphy’s raw one-liners and Steve Martin’s physical comedy at their best.  His imitations, his accents, his build-ups and pauses had a comedian’s timing.  His lambasting of the Left’s toppling of the statues of Jefferson, Grant, and Washington showed the comedic master’s understanding that ridicule, not umbrage, gets laughs and exposes the idiocy of the cancel culture.

Every Northern Liberal, shouted Trump, has a slaver in his family tree; a greedy, land-grabbing capitalist, and anti-Semitic misogynist, so what’s the big fucking deal?  He went after the secular, anti-religious liberal creeds. “Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights Are Human Rights, No Human Is Illegal, Love Is Love, and Kindness Is Everything” have replaced the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.

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Trump posed and postured, strutted, and shambled; was at times garrulous and and at others curt.  He played to the audience, to his faithful, and to the millions of others who have grown tired of progressive cant, civil disorder, and knee-jerk complicity.  It was an inaugural speech which put the Democrats on notice.  They have had months of a free rein, their own purposeful, righteous political Woodstock.  Now it is time to bring in the cavalry.

The liberal press was quick to criticize Trump in Tulsa – the expected crowds never showed up; Trump’s lies, innuendos, distortions, and ad hominem, gratuitous attacks were on display; and the very reasons why this arrogant, retrograde idiot should be overthrown were there for everyone to see.

Phooey, said the President, as he always has.  Fake news; but this time, within the hilarious comedy and in-your-face provocation, Trump was deadly serious – a shot across the bow, a wake-up call as loud as the one he shouted in 2016 which Hillary Clinton never even heard.  Here was a man in his mid-seventies but in his prime – a combative, confident, strong man – against whom a notably absent, querulous, and over-matched, deer-in-the-headlights Biden will have no chance.  The message was lost on no one.  No more watching the Democrats destroy themselves with street violence, radical policies, and a moralistic approach to COVID.  The conservative forces would now be on the march and as ruthless as Sherman.

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Those at Tulsa and watching on social media were not only pleased with the President’s unequivocal political stance, but with his performance.  This president has been one of a kind – a one-man circus act and vaudeville headliner all rolled into one, a Borscht Belt comedian with timing, irreverence, and honest humor.  Who said that there was one way of ‘acting presidential’? Who said that the Eastern image, the Upper West Side image of a president was the only one?  Most Americans are either like Trump or want to be like him – rich enough to have trophy wives and girlfriends, yachts, five homes, and enough money to say screw you.  They are as Las Vegas glitz and cheap glamour as he is.  They are as fake news, soap opera, Hollywood, and the mean streets as he is.  Finally they have a president who is one of them.

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Donald Trump has a genius for understanding Americans, our love of glitz, ribbons, and tinsel, our dismissal of the somber and the presumptuous   Thanks to his intelligence, arrogant confidence, absolute ambition, and vaudevillian sense of timing and audience appeal, he has just begun another perfect electoral campaign. 

Donald Trump is a man of Hollywood, Las Vegas, vaudeville, and Barnum & Bailey.  He is the first candidate to understand – and embody – our deliberately illogical preferences, our passionate anti-intellectual populism, and our anti-establishment moral rectitude. Issues don’t matter for either him or for his supporters.  Not even Ronald Reagan stirred so many legitimate aspirations.  No more logic, issues, and moderation.  The way forward is visceral, and absolute.  There is no on-the-one-hand-on-the-other dispassionate consideration here. The circus is the message.

The problem is that Biden will have to run against the most savvy vaudevillian circus performer in the nation’s history.  Trump’s entire first term has been resetting the political calculus.  No more political correctness, compromise, respectful debate, or honorable disagreement.  Trump has been a clown, a comedian, a bare-knuckles John L Sullivan street fighter, a man cut from an American cloth with an amoral approach to power and individual interest.  Biden will be sorely tested by this master of sarcasm, cynical darts, and innuendos.

At first he will be bemused, wry smiles, and head-shaking at Trump’s obtuseness. The people understand what a buffoon Trump is and rectitude, temperance, and good counsel will win the day; but as Trump’s ad hominem attacks continue and increase in intensity, Biden will become flustered and despite the advice of his handlers, will respond in kind.  Yet he is not up to fighting dirty.  First of all, anyone representing the party of decency, progress, respect, and inclusivity can afford to look like a street-fighter.  It would be unseemly, and it would show the electorate that there is no qualitative difference between the candidates.  Round One to Trump.

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Trump has always played fast and loose with the facts, and by so doing  has invigorated his base and enraged his opposition.  His supporters know that there is no such thing as ‘the truth’ – everything is distorted, manipulated, transformed, and reconfigured to suit political ends; every politician is venal and self-serving; and that there is no such thing as higher values in politics.  So his supporters love Trump’s railing at the media’s fake news; at  his dismissal of Democrats’ Salem witch hunts and rigged trials; at his low blows and irremediable politically incorrect references.

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Had COVID not arrived, he would have been  carny barker, vaudevillian, circus performer, snake oil salesman, and defiant spit-in-your-face champion of the pissed off long ago; but now the time has come.  Trump is opposing a man not only out of his depth going up against a man like Trump but flummoxed and seemingly bewildered by it all.  Biden knows that he must rise to the occasion, wrestle Trump in the mud, fire Twitter rockets, and be outrageous; but he is trapped by his past – the whole idea of the Democratic ethos of doing the right thing, keeping up standards, never lowering oneself.  Nevertheless, the campaign would have been a good one – not as good as two more equally matched candidates, both with circus credentials, Big Tent personalities, and side show seconds, but still fun.

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The current polls (June 2020) show a significant margin of victory for Biden; but the campaign has only just begun, and the fur has yet to fly.  Biden will be eaten alive by Trump during the debates, will be kept off the stump by his handlers fearing gaffes and missteps, and will let his shills and seconds go out as an avant-garde.  Trump on the other hand, a fearless campaigner, will be hosting rallies, be visible everywhere, and will be the only show in town.

Other than the Eastern Progressive Establishment who will vote for anyone but Trump, the election is still wide open.  The gap in the polls is not because of a fall-off in committed Trump supporters, but a temporary layaway plan purchase of the Left’s arguments by the on-the-fencers.  Once the campaign begins and Trump attacks each and every one of the Left’s claims to legitimacy, these not-so-sure voters will come back to Trump.  No Democrat is really happy with Biden, a traditional, safe but tired candidate who has been around the block, done nothing really important, who missed his chance in 2016, and is now a sad case of a man who desperately, hopelessly wants to go out a winner.

So the flaps to the Big Top are now open, and the circus is coming to town.  This will be a once in a lifetime campaign, and win or lose, the Trump circus has been a wild, unpredictable and fun ride; and many hope that it will continue. 

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