The October Surprise in 2020

“autocratic malarkey”

hydrochloroquineI woke up in the morning, and suddenly, it made sense, in a Bizarro world sort of way. Many pundits said there was no October surprise in 2020. I would disagree. The surprise was djt getting COVID.

He flies on Marine One to the hospital on a Friday. By Sunday, he’s riding around in a limo, waving to supporters. And on Monday evening, he’s back at the White House, defiantly ripping off his mask, saying “Screw you, COVID.” A week or so later, he’s off doing dozens of his rallies before tens of thousands of his adoring acolytes, including five events in four states in one day.

Now, you and I may see this as grossly irresponsible behavior, creating a bunch of possible super-spreader events. But to his fans, he is portraying Strength and Resilience.

It’s like in that old Saturday Night Live skit. He is the Arnold clones, Hans and Franz. He’s going to “Pump you up.” Meanwhile, the other guy, he says, is hiding in his basement like a “girly man.”

Never underestimate the appeal of toxic masculinity, especially mixed with half-truths. My gut says that the big blue wave didn’t come because those mysterious undecided voters leaned red. And possibly because his supporters lie to pollsters.

“The unhinged, dangerous, Democracy-destabilizing thing”

He gave a speech at the White House around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday in which he prematurely declared victory. This despite the fact that “millions upon millions of legitimate votes were still being counted. As Vanity Fair noted: “The goal, in all of its authoritarian bluster, was to get out in front of a result that might not land in his favor.”

Now, “the networks quickly and aggressively called bulls**t on Trump’s remarks, either breaking away from the speech or butting in with fact-checks. ‘We are reluctant to step in but duty-bound to point out when he says, ‘We did win this election, we’ve already won,’ that’s not based in the facts at all,’ said MSNBC’s Brian Williams.

His colleague Nicolle Wallace put it this way: ‘It’s straight-up autocratic malarkey, and what we have to keep in mind is that he’s not the boss of the counting…”

“CBS threw up a graphic stating, ‘CBS NEWS IS NOT PROJECTING A WINNER IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE,’ and Norah O’Donnell described Trump as ‘castrating the facts…’

“But perhaps the most noteworthy analysis was that seen on Trump’s frenemy network, Fox News… At a historic and uncharted moment like this, it was crucial to have a respected veteran newsman like anchor Chris Wallace telling the viewers what they needed to hear.

“‘This is an extremely flammable situation, and the president just threw a match on it,’ Wallace said. ‘He hasn’t won these states. Nobody is saying he’s won the states. The states haven’t said that he’s won.’

“The question is, did the viewers believe him?”

Where he leads, they will follow

Apparently not. Because the media, he keeps telling them, is fake. This despite the fact the shift in vote count was predictable.

“Dozens of [his] angry supporters… converged on vote-counting centers in Detroit and Phoenix as the returns went against him Wednesday in the two key states. The folks pounding on the Plexiglass in Detroit chanting “Stop the Count” made the NBC News on Wednesday. I feared for the wellbeing of the election workers inside.

Demonstrators, some armed, gathered at the government office in Maricopa County, AZ yelling, “Kill Fox,” and “Count the Vote.” Reportedly, the group became so threatening that the work of counting the vote had to be ended for the evening.

What does one want in a president? I found this four-minute video from John Green (no relation) about the decency of Joe Biden rather touching. And this 20-minute piece of John Oliver on the incompetence of the coronavirus response infuriating.

But djt apparently overcame the COVID. So he must be America Strong, even if he leaves it to his idiot son-in-law to “Let the Markets Decide America’s COVID-19 Fate.”

His fans appreciate his disdain for “political correctness.” He orchestrates his rallies as places to express their anger: “Fire Fauci,” “Lock Her Up.” Yet they’re OK with him lying to them about the seriousness of the pandemic, pushing conspiracy theories, dismissing climate change, pandering to racists, using the government for personal gain, and ruining our international reputation.

Yes, he suggests he’s for individual liberty, but it’s for those who agree with him. Lower taxes but really for the rich. Smaller government when it involves human services or the environment, but not the military. 

My rational brain says his fans are crazy. But I also have to admit I’m just not experiencing his persona the same way as they do. And it’s not just the one person but Trumpism I just don’t grok.

Covering the regime’s pep rallies

Hillary will team up with George Soros.

ralliesA guy I know and respect IRL posited: “The media shouldn’t be covering Trump pep rallies. It would drive him crazier not to be covered.” I understand this position.

Omorosa Manigault Newman, the former reality show villain turned White House adviser turned regime foe suggested as much: “There’s one way to shut Donald Trump down and that is to just don’t give him the oxygen,” she said on The Daily Show recently. “And the oxygen comes from the clicks, the likes, the shock, the discussions. If you ignore him, then you starve him of the thing he loves the most ― and that is controversy and attention.”

Yet I’m resistant to the idea.

1. He’ll still be covered by FOX, CBN, right-wing bloggers. Do we want to cede the analysis and the reporting of news to them?

2. He’ll tweet about it. I remember some folks early on suggested not covering those. But unfortunately, he makes pronouncements on the platform. He fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Twitter.

3. Failure to cover him will feed into his narrative that the news is biased. Some have suggested that point anyway after the “editorial collusion by dozens of newspapers,” in response to the regime’s “fake news” claims.

4. He announces things at his rallies that the public should be aware of. At the rally in Great Falls, MT on July 5, 2018, he announced, “I’ve directed the Pentagon to begin a process of creating a sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces called the space force.”

It’s also where QAnon, which is either a “a deranged conspiracy cult” or a faux movement, leapt from the Internet to the crowd at the Tampa MAGA tour on July 31.

There are, I imagine from reading enough right-wing literature, some people who DO believe the regime actually “installed Robert Mueller as part of an ongoing plan to capture the Muslim terrorist Barack Obama. At the climax of the consensus narrative, Trump supporters will have to unite for a mighty Good vs Evil fight in which Hillary will team up with George Soros in an attempt to overthrow the government, only to be cast down by Trump, who will then usher in a new age of Christian righteousness.”

(My head hurts.)

I’m pained by the cost of these rallies. While the core event expenses presumably comes from the campaign of the presumed 2020 Republican candidate for President, the taxpayers are on the hook for the Secret Service, which is already overextended, plus state and local law enforcement.

So I say cover the guy, and then read The Fact Checker’s ongoing database of the false or misleading claims he’s made since assuming office. It’s about 50 truth-bending comments per week, a goodly number of them at his rallies.