FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Trump’s Bullshit Bullseye

Whatever one might think about Donald Trump’s claim to be a “stable genius,” his rambling and seemingly unfocused rant of a speech to an enthusiastic throng of CPAC attendees on Saturday demonstrated the kind of demagoguery at which he has become adept—and included a chilling shot across the bow of the smoldering political debate dividing this country. What Trump did was raise the ante in a very dangerous way, and in so doing reinforce the concern Michael Cohen expressed last Wednesday in public testimony before Congress, a concern that has been on my mind for a couple of years now but gets very limited attention in the mainstream media or on guardedly progressive cable networks like MSNBC.

Addressing the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 27, Cohen said in a closing statement, “I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” Coming from a longtime Trump “enforcer,” lightly regarded for his political or intellectual gravitas, the warning was both surprising and sobering.

Trump had already raised the stakes last month when he declared a national emergency over border wall funding, ignoring the wishes of Congress and making an unprecedented grab for executive power that many thought threatened the checks and balances written into the Constitution by the founding fathers. But on Saturday his rhetoric seemed to launch a new phase of escalation and make Cohen’s concerns even more ominous.

Speaking about the Mueller investigation and the broadening inquiries in the newly Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, Trump hurled words like “lunatic,” “sick” and “dirty,” and characterized Democrats’ efforts as a no-holds-barred assault on his presidency: “They’re trying to take you out with bullshit, OK? With bullshit.”

Unprecedented, unpresidential, debasing and vulgar are only some of the adjectives that would be appropriate to describe the president’s language. But looked at another way, the invective was unerringly on target—a bullshit bullseye, if you will. To an adoring base that has elevated Trump to the status of a cult leader (chosen by God, some say), he accomplished several things at once. Not only did he extend his defiance of politically correct behavior and language, he coined a new rallying cry, to be echoed when Mueller’s report is issued, or when Democrats reveal the findings of their investigations, or the Justice Department’s Southern District of New York builds criminal cases against him.

Trump or his inner circle was involved in collusion with Russia? Bullshit, they’ll shout. Trump obstructed justice, violated campaign finance laws, committed bank fraud, insurance fraud, witness tampering, violations of the emoluments clause? Bullshit, they’ll scream. Impeach the president? Bullshit.

But with Congress gridlocked and successful impeachment unlikely, the 2020 election still seems like the best shot we’ll have at derailing Trump’s authoritarian juggernaut, and that’s where my fear and Cohen’s warning converge: If he wins, it’s all over for democracy in this country, but even if he loses, who among us can really see Trump going quietly? Even in 2016, prepared to lose to Hillary, he was all ready to cry fraud and contest the election. Not only will he almost certainly do so after a loss in 2020, but he is steering his base toward mass violence to protest the “deep state” conspiracy, “voter fraud” from minorities and a diabolical “coup” to drive him from office. Should he get away with the trumped-up border emergency, an allegedly rigged election will surely be his next excuse for a national emergency. If it’s not just a witch-hunt but a “bullshit” assault designed to take out the greatest president ever, a Democratic victory at the polls may be nearly as dangerous as a loss.

This country never fully got over the Civil War (on a cultural level, if not a geographic one) and may be headed for another iteration. With his bullshit bull’s-eye, a narcissistic rich kid from Queens may just have fired the first round.

More articles by:

Steve Klinger is a veteran community journalist and college English instructor based in southern New Mexico. Frequently skeptical about the capacity of the written word to inspire activism, he also writes songs, hoping to add the power of music to his topical lyrics.

Weekend Edition
August 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Lights! Camera! Kill! Hollywood, the Pentagon and Imperial Ambitions.
Joseph Grosso
Bloody Chicken: Inside the American Poultry Industry During the Time of COVID
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: It Had to be You
H. Bruce Franklin
August 12-22, 1945: Washington Starts the Korean and Vietnam Wars
Pete Dolack
Business as Usual Equals Many Extra Deaths from Global Warming
Paul Street
Whispers in the Asylum (Seven Days in August)
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Predatory Capitalism and the Nuclear Threat in the Age of Trump
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
‘Magical Thinking’ has Always Guided the US Role in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
The Politics of War: What is Israel’s Endgame in Lebanon and Syria?
Ron Jacobs
It’s a Sick Country
Eve Ottenberg
Trump’s Plan: Gut Social Security, Bankrupt the States
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s Fake News
Jonathan Cook
How the Guardian Betrayed Not Only Corbyn But the Last Vestiges of British Democracy
Joseph Natoli
What Trump and the Republican Party Teach Us
Robert Fisk
Can Lebanon be Saved?
Brian Cloughley
Will Biden be Less Belligerent Than Trump?
Kenn Orphan
We Do Not Live in the World of Before
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Compromise & the Status Quo
Andrew Bacevich
Biden Wins, Then What?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Criminology of Global Warming
Michael Welton
Toppled Monuments and the Struggle For Symbolic Space
Prabir Purkayastha
Why 5G is the First Stage of a Tech War Between the U.S. and China
Daniel Beaumont
The Reign of Error
Adrian Treves – John Laundré
Science Does Not Support the Claims About Grizzly Hunting, Lethal Removal
David Rosen
A Moment of Social Crisis: Recalling the 1970s
Maximilian Werner
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf: Textual Manipulations in Anti-wolf Rhetoric
Pritha Chandra
Online Education and the Struggle over Disposable Time
Robert Koehler
Learning from the Hibakushas
Seth Sandronsky
Teaching in a Pandemic: an Interview With Mercedes K. Schneider
Dean Baker
Financing Drug Development: What the Pandemic Has Taught Us
Greta Anderson
Blaming Mexican Wolves for Livestock Kills
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Meaning of the Battle of Salamis
Mel Gurtov
The World Bank’s Poverty Illusion
Paul Gilk
The Great Question
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
Trump Doesn’t Want Law and Order
Martin Cherniack
Neo-conservatism: The Seductive Lure of Lying About History
Nicky Reid
Pick a Cold War, Any Cold War!
George Wuerthner
Zombie Legislation: the Latest Misguided Wildfire Bill
Lee Camp
The Execution of Elephants and Americans
Christopher Brauchli
I Read the News Today, Oh Boy…
Tony McKenna
The Truth About Prince Philip
Louis Proyect
MarxMail 2.0
Sidney Miralao
Get Military Recruiters Out of Our High Schools
Jon Hochschartner
Okra of Time
David Yearsley
Bringing Landscapes to Life: the Music of Johann Christian Bach
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail