The scene; Nashville, Tennessee in a stadium that holds about 9,500 people. On this night, March 15, 2017, Donald Trump, now President of the United States, was in his glory, surrounded by adoring fans, he leisurely strolled up to the lectern soaking up the cheers. He moved about the stage slowly, but with the confidence of a man who had a nation behind him. On this night, he could do no wrong, his fans would hear nothing of it. He ignored the fact that scores of seats were empty and that his fan club may be diminishing.
Two U.S. judges had just put a stop to his travel order for the second time in just a few
weeks. The judges said, “The court record shows “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus.” In lay terms it means Trump had issued the order for racist reasons and some of his many quotes were included in the order, quotes in which the President specifically referred to Muslims as untrustworthy and dangerous. His advisors Rudy Giuliani and Steve Miller were also quoted as making racist remarks about Muslims but this audience wasn’t buying any of it. Their President could do no wrong. No matter what he said or did they loved him. Even as his own party leaders were being forced to admit that their President was less than honest, these fans did not care. They would Follow their leader to Hell and back if necessary. These “True Believers,” viewed him with almost religious reverence.
That kind of adoration and unquestioned loyalty sent “The Donald” back in time to his campaign days when enemies like “Lyin Ted,” or “Little Marco,” or “loser” Mitt Romney were dispatched with the prowess of an 18th-century sword fighter. A few parries and thrusts and they were down and out. Sixteen of them fell before his acid tongue and his twilight tweets. Tonight was reminiscent of that. The more the fans cheered, the more invincible he became.
With his head held high and his chin jutted forward, Trump stepped to the microphone and with hand gestures silenced the crowd. “Today they turned down my Executive Order on Travel,” he said and the audience booed. Again he quieted the crowd. “The Judge’s decision is, in the opinion of many, an unprecedented judicial overreach,” again the crowd cheered and booed. He continued, “The law and the constitution give the president the power to suspend immigration, when he or she – fortunately, it will not be Hillary she.”
At that point the crowd started chanting “lock her up!” and the president seemed to relish the moment, strutting around the stage, head held high, chin jutting forward again — his silhouette in the shadows resembling that of another authoritarian who lived and died before Trump was born in the last century.
He allowed the “lock her up” chant to continue and by virtue of the fact that he didn’t stop it, he was telling the crowd to keep it up.
What kind of man does that? What kind of President continually belittles a defeated opponent? Where is his dignity, his sense of propriety, his integrity? No other President in our history has been so consumed with an election. He won, but that isn’t enough for him. He can’t stand the fact that he lost the popular vote. It grinds on him so badly he insists that from 3 to 5 million illegal votes were cast and, “Not one of them voted for me.” How would he know any of that and no one else does?
Donald Trump lives in a fantasy world a world in which he wasn’t elected President he was appointed and anointed by God. He feels invincible, but he is like a narcotics addict he can’t get enough adoration. When you are an addict you get high once. The rest of the time you spend trying to recapture that first high. He is trying to recapture getting the nomination and winning the election again and the only way he can do it is to lie, to tell more and bigger lies so that his ever dwindling fan club will continue to whistle and shout their adoration.
Today and yesterday both the house and the senate intelligence committees chairman and ranking member, said there was no evidence that President Obama ordered surveillance of Trump tower. Many thought Trump would finally recant, back up, start again, and admit the error of his ways. We should have known better.
Throughout the campaign and during his first two months in office he has made a huge issue of how dishonest the news media are. He has called them “The enemy of the American People,” Steve Bannon says, “The news media are the opposition party.” His Press Secretary Sean Spicer uses the same language the President does when referring to news stories the administration doesn’t like he calls them “Fake News.”
Then, today in an amazing twist Spicer quoted several media sources to rebut the statements by the intelligence committee chairs and ranking members. Today the news media were the authorities and not fake news. Today the leaders of congress, of his own party were fake news.
The Sean Spicer news briefing today was the most convoluted, mish mosh of twisted, illogical, non-critical thinking I’ve ever heard. As I mentioned in a previous blog, Spicer’s performance today exceeded the nonsense communicated by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld when on February 12, 2002, he responded to a question about the lack of evidence linking the government of Iraq with the supply of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups. Rumsfeld said,
“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.
Upon listening to Spicer today, I for the first time understood Rumsfeld. His comment made sense next to the rambling incoherence of Sean Spicer.
When I offer this critique I do so as a very concerned American citizen, but also as a former Governor’s Press Secretary who withstood some withering questions from the capitol press corps. I always tried to do so calmly and truthfully. Unlike Spicer, I never lost my temper or refused to allow a reporter access to the Governor. I believe a press secretary has to draw a line in order to protect his or her own integrity.
I didn’t mind telling the Governor’s side of the story, that was my job and we were always truthful albeit biased and the press corps understood that. I believed that I had two roles. One was to represent the Press when I was with the Governor and the other was to represent the Governor when I was with the press. Fortunately, I worked for an honest guy. But if you don’t, if you work for someone who is not truthful and you are aware of that then you must confront either the boss or the Chief of Staff with your concerns. If those concerns are not satisfied and you are continually asked to defend what you know to be lies then it is incumbent on that person to resign. Sean Spicer has little if any credibility left. He knows he is defending lies, it is impossible not to know. Forget about the Press Corps, but if he wants to live the rest of his life with any self-respect he should resign. I think all of us would respect that decision. That bold and courageous move might be just what it takes for others in the administration to stand up to Mr. Trump and tell him the truth about himself.
And from where I sit, that’s the truth.