Two Trump Speeches

Ken AshfordTrump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Well, Monday night we got Teleprompter Trump on live TV, giving an address about his Afghanistan plans. What was remarkable about it? Very little except that he did admit that presidenting is different from campaigning, which is why he is reversing his stance on getting the 100,000 troops out of Afghanistan.  You see, he learned that if you remove troops, you might create a power vacuum, which allows terrorists to grow and eventually come here.  Just like the Iraq power vacuum led to ISIS.

It’s NOT a horrible rationale, and obviously, Trump was listening to his military advisers (although he took credit). But realistically, what Trump proposed — a troop increase of undefined numbers, staying for an undefined amount of time — is just what he campaigned against: infinite war.

I don’t claim to know what is best to do about Afghanistan: quagmires be quagmires. I can’t second-guess the correctness of Trump’s “policy”. I just note that it is bizarre to see an isolationist learn in real time about the virtues of globalism.

And then came last night — the Trump Rally in Phoenix. It was pure campaign Trump, and although it was ostensibly for the 2020 election, it was really for Trump’s ego.

Clearly, Charlottesville was on Trump’s mind.  Four speakers took turns carefully denouncing hate, calling for unity and ever so subtly assuring the audience that the president is not racist. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson proclaimed that “our lives are too short to let our differences divide us.” Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., led everyone in singing a few lines of “How Great Thou Art.” Evangelist Franklin Graham prayed for the politically and racially divided nation and asked the Lord to shut the mouths of “those in this country who want to divide, who want to preach hate.” And Vice President Pence declared that “President Trump believes with all his heart … that love for America requires love for all its people.” Meanwhile, a supporter seated directly behind stage even wore a T-shirt that stated: “Trump & Republicans are not racist.”

Okay, then.

Trump launched into one angry rant after another, repeatedly attacking the media and providing a lengthy defense of his response to the violent clashes in Charlottesville, between white supremacists and neo-Nazis and the counterprotesters who challenged them. He threatened to shut down the government if he doesn’t receive funding for a wall along the southern border….

He announced that he will “probably” get rid of the North American Free Trade Agreement, attacked the state’s two Republican senators, repeatedly referred to protesters as “thugs” and coyly hinted that he will pardon Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County who was convicted in July of criminal contempt in Arizona for ignoring a judge’s order to stop detaining people because he merely suspected them of being undocumented immigrants.

Many of his “facts” were… well, false.  There’s not other word for it.

But he kept coming back to Charlottesville, and bashing the media for his response.  It was like Lenny Bruce when Lenny Bruce stopped being funny and simply started reading his trial transcripts.

At one point, Trump blamed the media for not properly covering his initial statement on the violence in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, and proceeded to read portions of his initial remarks.

“This is my exact words. ‘I love all the people of our country’ …. They (the media say), ‘Is he a racist?’ ” Trump said.

But Trump did not read the portion of his comments that were criticized by Republicans and Democrats for not explicitly condemning the racist, anti-Semitic protesters.

Here’s what Trump said in that first response to the chaos:

“We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Va.. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America. What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives. No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society. And no child should ever be afraid to go outside and play or be with their parents and have a good time.”

Trump ignored the “on many sides, on many sides” — something that post-rally pundits were quick to point out. Said one, “Does he not think we have video of what he ACTUALLY said?”

Ten Navy sailors were killed in a terrible at-sea collision between a destroyer and a freighter. Trump said nothing about that.

And in all his rants about Charlottesville, he never mentioned Heather Hayer, the woman killed by a Neo-Nazi.  Not once.

I guess that’s why Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer could hardly contain his glee:

WaPo reports that the sheen was lost after a while, even among his supporters:

But as the night dragged on, many in the crowd lost interest in what the president was saying.

Hundreds left early, while others plopped down on the ground, scrolled through their social media feeds or started up a conversation with their neighbors. After waiting for hours in 107-degree heat to get into the rally hall — where their water bottles were confiscated by security — people were tired and dehydrated and the president just wasn’t keeping their attention.

Don Lemon’s post-rally lead-in spoke for millions:

But as many pointed out, this wasn’t NEW — this was Rally Trump. The guy we saw on the campaign trail. Whining, defensive, divisive.  It’s not like he is going to get impeached for any of this.  In fact, this is why he got elected.