Side Stepping Reality Edition
APPROVAL ALERT AT PRESS TIME:
FiveThirtyEight Poll: 43.5% — up from 42.1% last week
Rasmussen Poll: 52% — up from 46% last week
Harvard CAPS-Harris Presidential Poll, 9/4/20: Biden: 49% — Trump: 42%
Welcome to Trumplandia, a place where with a bit of wit and snark, we keep the world caught up on all of the tasty Nuggets-O-Trump you may have heard about, but were too busy to care. Because most of this minutia occurs just below the massive headlines about the POTUS, it’s in a land of its own. Here, an infusion of social media, video clips and print media meld with our outdated political views to make more delicious “Fake News” about our Commander-in-Chief.
So just like the president, we start it all with a little tweet like this:
Tap dancing around the issues
The week of our Trump — Aug. 29, 2020: Questioned about declining poll numbers, his mishandling of an ever widening global pandemic and an obvious disdain for the U.S. military, Donald Trump and his campaign started a new dance routine this week that we hope will lead to his exit from the White House this fall.
Trump’s smooth waltz of lies shifted to some frenetic tap-dancing after an article in The Atlantic magazine gave new life to comments he made years ago that painted dead Marines as “losers and suckers” after they paid the ultimate price while defending liberty.
The Sept. 3, 2020, article in The Atlantic by journalist Jeffrey Goldberg alleged Trump not only disparaged U.S. military veterans, but also categorized his comments as being from someone incapable of understanding why people might want to serve their country without regard for financial gain.
Trump denied making the callous and unpatriotic comments despite several media sources confirming them. The president and his aides labeled the Goldberg article “fake news” and “a hoax.” He even called for the firing of a reporter from typically pro-Trump Fox News, who confirmed the Atlantic piece, as did reporters from the Washington Post, Associated Press and others.
The president, doing the old soft shoe, said:
“To think that I would make statements negative to our military when nobody has done what I’ve done, with the budgets and the military budget. We’re getting pay raises for the military. It is a disgraceful situation, by a magazine that is a terrible magazine, I don’t read it.”
Trump’s comments stemmed from the famous Battle at Belleau Wood during World War I that stopped a German advance toward Paris back in the spring of 1918.
But some 100 years later when Trump was visiting France in November 2018 to mark the event, he canceled a trip to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris due to a number of excuses that included “the helicopter (Marine One) couldn’t fly” due to the weather and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him to the cemetery in the rain. Most media outlets settled on the notion that the candy-colored sandman-in-chief was too vain to get his hair wet during a dreary day in France.
While it appears the hair scare was indeed part of the story, the Goldberg article set the record straight on the almost forgotten incident.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, aka Bullshit Barbie, dismissed the criticism and tried to turn the conversation to previously failed explanations of the helicopter and “challenging logistics” that forced Trump to cancel the visit.
McEnany said the Atlantic article was part of “conspiracy-laden propaganda” peddled by “liberal activists” based on non-existent anonymous sources. Trump said the Secret Service is preparing a report documenting the 2018 trip and why it was canceled.
Trump’s “losers and suckers” comment drew the ire of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, whose late son Beau served in Iraq with the Delaware National Guard:
“How would you feel if you had a kid in Afghanistan right now? How would you feel if you lost a son or daughter, husband, wife? How would you feel, for real? But you know in your heart, you know in your gut: It’s deplorable.”
In November 2018, the media teased the Don about his vanity, focusing on the event cancellation on a rainy day so as not to spoil his perfectly crafted coif, but the new revelations highlight the president’s inability to understand the concept of public service.
Born entitled and rich, Trump has the same mentality as most successful draft dodgers who suggest that it’s stupid to serve your country, and that people with “very good brains” are able to get around the rules and forgo service. The dumber ones get captured or die for the cause, according to Trump’s credo.
A retired four-star general quoted anonymously in the article said, “He (Trump) just thinks that anyone who does anything when there’s no direct personal gain to be had is a sucker.”
To most people it is understood that Trump only serves Trump, but to his supporters, he is the most patriotic president who has ever served. He’s a law-and-order guy who backs people with guns, be they the police, a crazed militia group or even white supremacists.
Much of Trump’s specially crafted veneer appeared to be melting as he and his White House sycophants kept dancing around the incendiary Goldberg article that will undoubtedly make this Labor Day weekend a longer one that was expected for one Donald John Trump.
Choking on a few bad apples
Donnie brought his old soft shoe routine to Wisconsin last week, where he continued to dance around the real reason why the Dairy State and its City of Kenosha have become household names in recent weeks.
Kenosha is a new flashpoint in the battle against police brutality, and because of that has also become a must-visit in the battle for the White House in a battleground state.
As protesters clashed with police over the shooting of Jacob Blake, yet another unarmed Black motorist who was shot seven times in the back by white police officers, the president of the United States used his visit to Kenosha to push for even more law and more order:
“Today I’m here for law enforcement and the National Guard because they’ve done a great job in Kenosha. They put out the flame immediately. As soon as they (the National Guard) came in, boom — the flame was gone.”
Trump traded a call with members of the Blake family for an interaction with their religious leaders and hobnobbing with police and a tour of businesses damaged during rioting as a result of the shooting.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian had urged Trump not to come because they were concerned that a visit by “Mr. Law and Order” would inflame tensions around the community, which has been in an uproar since the Blake shooting.
The 29-year-old Blake was shot as he returned to his vehicle after breaking up a fight on Aug. 23, 2020. The shooting, which has left Blake paralyzed from the wait down, touched off nights of protests and riots.
The incident has added to a seemingly endless cycle of violence where unarmed Black people have been shot by police, turning communities from Minneapolis to Portland, Ore., to Kenosha, Wis., to Rochester, N.Y., into sites of civil unrest and calls for police reform.
Trump answered the call for social justice with more force, often threatening to send in federal troops to reinforce local police while never opening a dialogue with the protesters, some of whom he called domestic terrorists.
Trump’s well-coordinated dance was part of an ongoing effort to ignore calls for police reform while nimbly ignoring brutality and outright murder. Trump declined to meet the Blake family after they insisted on having their legal counsel present during the meeting.
The president said:
“I spoke with the pastor, wonderful man, the family’s pastor. I thought it would be better not to do anything where there are lawyers involved They wanted me to speak, but they wanted to have lawyers involved, and I thought that was inappropriate, so I didn’t do that. I may at some point do that, but they did have a lawyer that wanted to be on the phone, and I said, ‘No, that’s inappropriate,’ but I just gave my best regards.”
Ironically, the Revs. James Ward and Sharon Ward, pastors at Blake’s mother Julia Jackson’s church, were part of a roundtable discussion on public safety held by Trump during the visit and were the only two people to bring up Blake’s shooting during the event.
Earlier, the Wards told Trump they wanted to help him restore unity to Kenosha. However, when asked about the possibility of police violence being systemic, Trump answered for the pastors and denied the existence of a phenomenon that has been at the root of nationwide protests since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
By contrast, Biden visited Blake — who remains hospitalized — by telephone prior to meeting with members of his family and the community at the Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha two days after Trump’s visit.
Biden also spoke with members of the community affected by the shooting, protests and riots and said he believed the officers involved in Blake’s shooting should be charged. Biden also reiterated that he was against looting and rioting. He said shootings like that in Kenosha highlight a need for a national policing standard, something that has been pushed by groups like Black Lives Matter.
“I’ve spoken to them a lot before, but we spent some time together, with my wife, and he talked about how nothing was going to defeat him — how whether he walked again or not, he was not going to give up.”
Trump said he saw Blake’s shooting as simply a mistake by the Kenosha Police and that all instances of police brutality against minorities are because of “few bad apples.” He said those in Kenosha — like officers in tense situations in other places — only have a split-second to determine whether they should shoot a suspect or not.
In an interview with Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham, Trump said:
“Shooting the guy in the back many times, I mean, couldn’t you have done something different? Couldn’t you have wrestled him? You know, I mean, in the meantime, he might’ve been going for a weapon and you know, there’s a whole big thing there. But they choke, just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three-foot putt.”
Trump went on to say his simile was to illustrate how people can choke, given the short time police have to make life-or-death decisions, and that some make bad decisions and choke under pressure.
Getting down and dirty in Foggy Bottom
During a frenetic week in the 2020 race for president, the terrified incumbent continued to reach into his bag of dirty tricks.
Roughly eight points behind Biden in national polls and with less than two months to go before Election Day, Trump is again calling on many of the same dark forces he used in 2016 when Russian hackers and James Comey’s thumb on the scales assisted his climb to the presidency.
The Trump campaign went into hyperdrive in its push for re-election, though some of their misleading social media posts had to be pulled after they violated policies at Facebook and Twitter.
White House social media director Dan Scavino shared an altered video of Biden that made it appear that he had fallen asleep during a TV interview.
The clip was flagged by Twitter and marked as “manipulated media.” The video was later disabled on the social media platform.
The president’s campaign also has consistently produced manipulated photos of Biden that made the 77-year-old candidate appear older and decrepit. A Facebook ad used imaging software to artificially age Biden in an attempt to fit Trump’s narrative that Biden is too old and mentally unfit to hold office.
Fittingly, panic reared its ugly head in the Oval Office after unverified reports that Trump, who is 74 and ironically the oldest person to ever hold the office of president, last year was rushed to Walter Reed Medical Center due to a series of mini-strokes.
The reports were tied to a new book that claimed Vice President Mike Pence had been placed on standby during Trump’s visit to Walter Reed, which the White House tried to pass off as the president getting a jump start on his annual physical.
Penned by New York Times correspondent Michael Schmidt, the book did not specifically state that Trump had suffered any neurological events, but the president’s denial of the report and his reference to not “suffering a series of mini-strokes” on Twitter fueled speculation that Donnie Dimwit may have said the quiet part out loud.
He again dubbed the entire incident as, you guessed it, “fake news!”
Later in the week, the White House dropped fully into the gutter by publicizing a clip of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) appearing to violate a state order preventing salons from serving clients indoors during the coronavirus pandemic.
Petty and largely fought out on social media, the clip gained its largest audience when Bullshit Barbie played a surveillance video of the Speaker’s visit to the beautician on two screens and on a loop during the Sept. 3 daily press briefing at the White House.
McEnany said the trip showed Pelosi getting special access to the salon and urged her to apologize to the American people or at least return to the nation’s capital and do more work on the stalled coronavirus relief bill.
“Nancy Pelosi was found in San Francisco at a hair salon where she was indoors even though salons in California are only open for outdoor service. Apparently, the rules do not apply to Nancy Pelosi.”
Pelosi said she was set up by the salon owner, who allegedly told her the salon was allowed to service clients indoors by appointment, only one customer at a time, and wearing protective face masks. The rule was lifted the next day, but Pelosi faced backlash for what appeared to be a privileged wash and blow-dry, courtesy of Trump and his press secretary.
Salon owner Erica Kious denied setting up Pelosi during an interview on Fox News, saying that she rents chairs to stylists and only learned that Pelosi would visit shortly prior to the appointment. Kious said the tape she released was from the security cameras inside her business.
The final dirty trick came straight from the top when Trump, a day before mail-in balloting was officially to begin for the November election, told voters in North Carolina that they should cast their votes twice.
An obvious federal crime, Trump told voters they should mail one ballot, then go to the polls on Nov. 3 and vote again.
Later the same day Twitter flagged a Trump tweet making the same illegal request, saying that it violated rules on “civic and election integrity.”
Trump has attempted to thwart voting by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic falsely claiming that the longtime practice is fraught with fraud.
Facebook followed Twitter’s lead and attached a statement to Trump’s post that stated: “Voting by mail has a long history of trustworthiness in the U.S. and the same is predicted this year.”
However, Trump doubled down on Sept. 4 during a “tele-rally” where he urged North Carolinians to vote twice. He said during the Friday night event:
“If it has not been counted, vote — which is every citizen’s right to do — you go and vote. You press the lever and vote. So if it hasn’t been counted, if it doesn’t show up, go and vote, and then, if your mail-in ballot arrives after you vote, which it shouldn’t but possibly it could perhaps, that ballot will not be used or counted in that your vote has already been cast and tabulated, so this way you’re guaranteed to have your vote count.”