In the parlor with a false narrative
Some 63 million Americans went to the polls and for reasons that have yet to be fully explained (not that the political literati haven’t tried) handed the keys to the White House and to our democracy to Donald Trump, et al.
And so I waited for the Robert Mueller report to be completed, convinced that the outcome of the investigation would truncate what has been a rogue, chaotic, cringe-worthy presidency. I was certain that there had been a classic quid pro quo exchange between the Trump campaign and the Russians: They offered their troll-driven assistance in electing Trump and the U.S. sanctions would be lifted shortly thereafter.
And so it was a stunner when the special prosecutor found no collusion. But there was one oblique sentence in Attorney General William Barr’s strange summary, stating that no decision could be made regarding obstruction of justice. Now, once again, we wait for the full Mueller report to be released, we’re told, only after passing through the Barr Cuisinart of redactions.
Meanwhile, the Republicans, led by Trump, have grabbed the bully pulpit, looked America in the eye and created a blatantly false narrative, insisting the Mueller report fully exonerates Trump. No collusion, no obstruction. Rinse and repeat. It has been a bold and shameless prevarication.
Suddenly, two more years of uninterrupted Trumpian erraticism — our ongoing national stress test — seem inevitable. Our nation’s foreign and domestic policies will continue to be carried out as if they were jarring games of Jenga. But just as disconcerting is the unavoidable sense that this president is unhinged the doors always on the verge of coming off.
For evidence, turn only to Trump’s most recent Grand Rapids, Michigan, post-Mueller rally. It was a free association riff of some 85 minutes. Below are a few excerpts (with some annotations) lifted from his speech, delivered to 15,000 cheering supporters, some wearing T-shirts saying “The Sequel.”
To begin, Trump said: “The Special Counsel released its report. Total exoneration. Complete vindication.” (cheering)
Followed by Conspiracies R-US: “The crazy attempt by the Democrat (sic) Party and the fake news media, right back there (pointing), and the ‘Deep State’ to overturn the results of the 2016 election have failed. The Russian Witch Hunt was a plan by those who lost the election to try and illegally regain power. And this group of major losers did not just ruthlessly attack me, my family, and everyone who questioned their lies, they tried to divide the country.
“These people are sick. All of the Democrat politicians, the media bosses, bad people crooked journalists, the total dishonest TV pundits and all the current and former officials who paid for, promoted, and perpetuated the single greatest hoax in the history of politics in our country. They have to be — I’m sorry, they have to be accountable. (the crowd chants, “Lock ’em up!”)
“They did it all because they refused to accept the results of one of the greatest presidential elections, probably number one, in our history.”
Followed by a jarring non sequitur of a word salad:
“(My voters) came from the valleys, they came from the mountains, they came out of the damn rivers. I don’t know what you’re doing in the river. But they came from the cities. They came and they came and they didn’t know these people existed.”
My wall or yours: “China, and by the way we are building that wall. We are building that wall. Build it!”
Who wants to be a millionaire: “I have a better education than them (the elites). I’m smarter than them. I went to the best schools, they didn’t. Much more beautiful house, much more beautiful apartment, much more beautiful everything and I’m president and they’re not.”
And then a deep dive into domestic policy: “I support the Great Lakes, always have. They’re beautiful, they’re big, very deep, record deep.”
Audience chants: “Four more years! Four more years!”
Try and imagine.
Chris Honoré is a Daily Tidings columnist.