Now what? He's cooked. He has no appetite for governance. It's so boring! He feels so locked in a box! He looks sooooo unhappy! (Wouldn't it be great if he could demand an Electoral College recount and go back to saying it was rigged?)
I wrote the above on my Facebook page, shortly after I saw the first photos coming out of the Trump-Obama meeting in the Oval Office. To me, Trump looked red-faced, stuffed into his chair like a sixth grader who badly needed a bathroom break, waiting for the principal.
In a way, he was facing the principal.
He had spent years de-legitimizing the birth of the man who had invited him to the White House and treated him graciously (and whose mother was a natural-born citizen, which is all it takes to be qualified as President). So not only was the whole “birther” issue an obvious lie, but it was also moot. Still, the hunt in Hawaii for the birth certificate was what rocketed Trump back into the contemporary political system.
And look where it got him!
But this was seen as gloating and unkind. This is social media, after all, so a war ensued.
“Where do u get these ideas and present them as facts?” one commenter asked. “Stop relentlessly criticizing him what positive outcome does it produce?”
Basically, the criticism of my criticism was: “Stop with the negatives.”
Why shouldn’t the “losers” get to vent their fears and anger? The truth is that we have a president-elect who offended, disrespected and scared huge swatches of people, (swatch is the word he used). Who, on the road to victory, got us into potholes of viciously uncivil discourse.
Even while announcing his run, a time generally reserved for positivity and exaltation, he unleashed the famous line that “some Mexicans” were “rapists.”
His campaign recirculated the kinds of brutal stereotypes and language that had not polluted the air in a generation. All of that has to go somewhere.
“Stop with the negatives” is a bit rich. Because one of Trump’s superpowers is his preternatural ability to laser-focus on a perceived weakness in his “enemy” and home in on the “negg.” Though not terribly articulate, this gives him an incredible gift for coining old-fashioned attack-names that stick.
And though the polls were wrong and worthless, a dumping ground of dead data, it’s now coming out that many of his backers were well-educated and rich, not just the Rust Belt Appalachians who felt left out of the new economy.
Still, rather than get any apologies, we seem to want to have the “elites” apologize for their “bigotry” against conservative religion, and working-class and poor white people. That was a genius thing to stand for after eight years of having a black man in the White House, a guy who made many whites uncomfortable.
So certainly, Trump’s biggest genius in “Make America Great Again” was going the whole mythic Pepperidge Farm route, this time with nerve gas.
It’s true that Trump broke all the rules of the primary and presidential campaigning. I’ve written before about his completely unique ability to garner billions of dollars in free media, even while attacking the media for being “unfair” to him. Some of that came from his being the first ADHD President. (For my foes out there, I am making up that diagnosis.)
This means just to keep up his own energy, he had to be glib, entertaining, extreme, maybe even lie in the moment, to get the crowd going. And he was preternaturally gifted on the stump. His rallies set records for attendance, with crowds numbering in the 10,000s to 15,000s. And the guy who loves to win — and to count — never stopped panning the media for not showing his enormous crowds.
Part wrestling match, part funny car show, part stand-up, part mock trial, these rallies were way closer to bringing back the traveling circus or the snake-oil circuit than anything having to do with 21st-century technology. They tapped into a nostalgia factor to a group of people who wanted to restore what they had back in the day, when America was "great."
And though he is a caricature of bragging and bluster, a little-boy Richie Rich for the ages, he also has a throwback quality about him — a humina-humina humor straight out of 1950s black-and-white television — that the crowd loves.
And as he said, he did it without even a guitar or a piano.
So there was that, but there was also his undeniable power and glamour gleaned from his years on television starring in “The Apprentice.” So to begin with, his followers were thrilled to be there, perhaps to catch a glimpse of the guy they had seen copter down from the heavens to land in the boardroom golden, like a god.
He didn’t get down into the weeds of any possible legislation, until the end, when he stayed on-prompter.
In the meantime, he had the “power of three” thing down, with a few simple lines repeated effectively: “Build a wall,” “Make them pay” and “Lock her up.” It always seemed out of the natural order to me that a Republican would be so down on our country, such a doomsayer. But people ate it up.
That, too, was part of fulfilling the yearning for an old-time patriarch, someone who was powerful, punishing and relentless.
And that played an undeniable role in pillorying Hillary.
She worked her heart out, and as Obama said, no presidential candidate ever was more experienced. But she was held to impossible standards of “likability” when, clearly, the country was not in the mood to “like” women.
We might not want to call it misogyny, but there was a fear of upending the natural order. And liberals can be sexist, too. People are still put off by female ambition. It seems unsexy and unseemly.
More specifically, the Secretary’s troubles began with the server and ended with the Weiner. In between, unlike Trump, she was never able to come up with a clear and compelling economic agenda. Where did she stand on trade?
She spent a lot of time raising lots of money for ads in closed sessions with rich donors, which is what candidates have always done. But it did not work in her favor this year. Her messaging was sometimes good enough, but never soaring. I still maintain that the only great ad of the season was Bernie’s “America.”
And the Clinton campaign never developed a positive case of why we should vote for her, aside from Trump being so vile.
After all, he was able to knock off the other 16 Republicans, many of whom used his own words against him in commercials — and still got nada. Her ads that repeated the despicable things he said about women were heartbreaking. But they were preaching to the converted. His followers didn’t care.
The timing of the Comey announcement was a killer, and certainly hurt Clinton worse than Trump’s Billy Bush bus tape hurt him. The country was in the mood for a Humvee, and Mrs. Clinton had to dance backward, in high heels.
And we ran her off the road.