Debarkle Chapter 51: Meanwhile…Donald Trump

It is 1987 and the question for American conservatives is who will succeed Ronald Reagan not just as President of the United States but as the ideological figurehead of the conservative movement. The most likely candidate for the Republican nomination is George H.W. Bush, the current Vice President but Bush’s credibility among the right of the Republican Party isn’t strong. Nevertheless, his role at Ronald Reagan’s side will make him a difficult candidate to beat. The alternatives to Bush include Bob Dole and Jack Kemp but many on the right are putting their hopes in televangelist Pat Robertson who was promising to clear out liberals from the apparatus of the federal government.[1] Robertson had built his campaign by appealing for millions of volunteers in his Evangelical Christian base to rally to his cause. Press coverage of the race has focused on the increasing influence of the radical Christian movement within the Republican Party:

“For a Republican Party seeking to solidify the gains it has made under President Reagan, Robertson’s success sets the stage for a two-year test of the party’s ability to deal with the sharp tensions between its establishment wing and the newly mobilized fundamentalist Christians, the single largest addition to the Republican coalition in the last decade.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1986/06/01/pat-robertson-and-the-power-of-gop-activists/09a8aa29-1774-42dd-a9ea-7f46bca885a5/

Robertson ended up withdrawing before the Republican National Convention and George W.H. Bush was duly appointed as the Republican Presidential candidate. However, Robertson wasn’t the only non-traditional candidate that conservatives considered as an alternative to Bush. New Hampshire Republican activist Mike Dunbar had an unusual idea:

“It was early summer of 1987, and Mike Dunbar had an idea. What if Donald Trump ran for president? Dunbar launched a “Draft Trump” campaign. The media got wind of Dunbar’s plan, and the first round of stories about a possible Trump presidency ran in newspapers across the country. In October 1987, Trump’s helicopter landed in New Hampshire. That night, Trump spoke before a packed house.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20140126064800/www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/blogs/hilary-sargent/2014/01/22/the-man-responsible-for-donald-trump-never-ending-presidential-campaign/95LunCt63n3xKoq5DyJNFI/blog.html

Trump was a registered Democrat when Dunbar first approached him and the idea of the publicity-hungry New York property developer being a likely Republican candidate was implausible. Trump’s first campaign went nowhere but it brought him into the Republican Party and to the 1988 Republican National Convention.

Robertson’s campaign had shown some strength in America’s mid-western states. In Minnesota, Robertson’s campaign was run by the businessman (and later tax fraudster) Robert Beale[2]. This led to an encounter that begins the intersection of the Debarkle story and the future presidency of Donald Trump. On the night of Bush’s acceptance of the nomination, Trump was sitting in Bush’s personal suite as was Robert Beale’s twenty-year-old son Vox Day:

“He crossed his legs, his shoe came near my shoulder and thereby drew my attention in my peripheral vision. I glanced back, did a double-take, and laughed. He grinned, leaned forward, patted my shoulder, and said “hey, sorry about that”.”

Vox Day, comment https://web.archive.org/web/20210314183831/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/02/donald-trump-democratic-socialist.html

Trump would attempt another run at a Presidential nomination for the 2000 election but this time for the Reform Party created by billionaire Ross Perot. To head his exploratory committee, Trump chose long-time political operator Roger Stone[3]. However, the chaos within the Reform Party and the effort involved in winning the nomination led Trump to withdraw, with many people assuming that the whole campaign was a publicity stunt on Trump’s part. Trump himself expressed frustration with the way the Reform Party had attracted many people with crank beliefs into its ranks:

“I also saw the underside of the Reform Party. The fringe element that wanted to repeal the federal income tax, believed that the country was being run by the Trilateral Commission and suspected that my potential candidacy was a stalking horse for (take your pick) Gov. George W. Bush, Senator John McCain or Vice President Al Gore. When I held a reception for Reform Party leaders in California, the room was crowded with Elvis look-alikes, resplendent in various campaign buttons and anxious to give me a pamphlet explaining the Swiss-Zionist conspiracy to control America.”

Donald Trump, https://web.archive.org/web/20150527135217/https://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/19/opinion/what-i-saw-at-the-revolution.html

The Reform Party nomination in 2000 would eventually go to paleo-conservative Pat Buchanan, completing an arc whereby an apparent middle-ground populist party expressing discontent with America’s two-party establishment moves more overtly to the right.

Trump shifted his party registration back to the Democratic Party in 2001 and in 2004 would find a more efficient way of promoting himself via the NBC reality show The Apprentice[5].

During the presidency of Barack Obama, Trump latched onto the idea that Obama may not have been born in the USA. The so-called Birther conspiracy theories had begun as rumors about Obama as early as 2004[6] and had even received some attention from supporters of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2008. However, the release of Obama’s short-form birth certificate during that campaign shifted the issue from rumor into conspiracy theory[7].

Among the early-promoters of Obama-related conspiracy theories was World Net Daily columnist Jerome Corsi who had been a promoter of the so-called “Swift Boat” scandal aimed at Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004. Corsi’s 2008 book The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality focused on attempts to tie Obama to more radical politics and to portray him as Muslim. The Obama campaign described Corsi in unflattering terms:

“Of course, the lies in “The Obama Nation” almost pale in comparison to the bizarre, conspiratorial views that Jerome Corsi has advocated in his broader work. He believes that President Bush is trying to merge the United states with Mexico and Canada. He believes that there is a literally unending supply of oil beneath the ground. And in perhaps the gravest sign that his views can’t be trusted, he alleges a government cover-up of the 9/11 attacks and denies that airplanes were to blame for the towers’ collapse.And it doesn’t stop there. Corsi has penned a litany of bigoted, hateful comments—crossing the line so thoroughly that even the right-wing operatives behind Swift Boat Veterans for Truth disavowed him. This is a man who smears the Catholic Church, calls the Pope “senile,” and regularly demeans public servants in vile sexual and racial terms.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20080821062921/http://obama.3cdn.net/a74586f9067028c40a_5km6vrqwa.pdf [8]

At the time, fellow World Net Daily columnist Vox Day was keen to defend Corsi from more establishment Republicans:

“I don’t have the answer, but I suspect that what Douthat and Dreher are attacking is Corsi himself, because if Corsi is credibly raising issues about Obama, as he previously did in the case of Kerry, then it’s also entirely possible, if not downright probable, that he’s credible with regards to the issues he’s raised about the plans for the North American Union and what happened on 9/11. And that simply cannot be born; better an Obama presidency than the puncturing of their conventional political worldview.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20080922162906/https://voxday.blogspot.com/2008/08/imperative-of-narrative.html

Day would also use his own World Net Daily column to promote Corsi’s Birther theories[9]. If Jerome Corsi was doing a lot of the legwork on Birther theories, it was Donald Trump’s capacity to garner media attention that was keeping the story going. As the 2012 election approached, sections of the right continued to attempt to discredit Obama with the theory that he had not been born in America and hence was not eligible to be US President.

Day was impressed with how Donald Trump was promoting the issue, so much so that in 2011 Day wrote:

“It is amusing to see how a savvy individual like Donald Trump have used the issue to his benefit whereas foolish politicians like Michelle Bachmann are so tied to the old power structure that they dutifully submit to the pressure of the groupthink. I once said that if Hillary wanted to nail down the presidency, all she had to do was come out against immigration. She didn’t and she blew it. In like manner, all a Republican candidate has to do to win the nomination is to be the first “serious” candidate to openly align himself with the Tea Party and the birthers, although a strong anti-immigration position would help secure the deal.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20110516032209/https://voxday.blogspot.com/2011/04/riding-occams-razor.html

In June 2015, Donald Trump officially entered the fray to announce that he was running for the Republican nomination for US President. Having spent the Obama years garnering support from the more conspiratorial section of US politics (the “fringe element” he had been dismissive of within the Reform Party), Trump moved to “secure the deal” by targetting immigration.

With the Syrian civil war at its height and a confusing array of groups fighting, there were large numbers of people fleeing the conflict. Consequently, migration along with fears of terrorism were major issues in US politics. However, Trump was also keen to raise the issue of immigration from Latin America via the USA’s southern border and even tie the issues together.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people.

It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably — probably — from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.”

Donald Trump announcement speech transcript https://web.archive.org/web/20150618051032/https://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2015/06/16/donald-trump-transcript-our-country-needs-a-truly-great-leader/

Within his speech, Trump promised tougher action on ISIS, better trade deals, improved roads and his signature policy:

“I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively, I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.”

ibid

A southern border wall was not Trump’s original idea. It was a policy that had been knocking around right-wing circles for some years[10]. However, Trump had packaged the idea within his own personal branding of a decisive businessman who could get things done (the extent to which this branding was a myth was already widely debated).

Throughout his speech, Trump had repeated one theme eight or nine times: the idea that America should be great again. Sometimes this was done negatively (e.g. about the existing political establishment “They will never make America great again”) and sometimes in terms of a personal way of thinking:

“You know, all of my life, I’ve heard that a truly successful person, a really, really successful person and even modestly successful cannot run for public office. Just can’t happen. And yet that’s the kind of mindset that you need to make this country great again.
So ladies and gentlemen…
I am officially running…
… for president of the United States, and we are going to make our country great again.”

ibid

Comments like the ones he had made in his speech about Mexicans, as well as proposed policies such as a broad ban on Muslims entering the USA, had commentators describing Trump as “running the most explicitly racist campaign since 1968”[11]. Trump would dismiss these objections by claiming that his critics were being too “politically correct”[12].

By September 2015, Vox Day was fully sold on the idea of Trump as a candidate:

“He’s definitely listening to the Alt-Right and not the so-called “conservative media”. No wonder they hate him so much. If you’re even remotely concerned about immigration and its societally destructive effects, Trump is the only candidate you can possibly support.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20170119075723/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-only-serious-candidate.html

In a comment on his own post, Day would reply to a call for open borders with a statement about how predominant his views on immigration were:

“Sorry, even this libertarian will choose literal Italian Fascism over that sort of anti-nationalist, free-borders “freedom”.”

Vox Day, comment https://web.archive.org/web/20170119075723/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-only-serious-candidate.html

Day was convinced and “on the Trump Train” but in the wider world, Trump’s campaign looked both extreme and ridiculous. The expectation that he could win the nomination was low and that if he did then he would certainly lose the election. Media attention was also focused on the Democratic Party race where the presumptive heir to Obama’s presidency, Hillary Clinton was facing some determined opposition from the more leftwing Bernie Sanders.

Among what had been the self-named Evil League of Evil nobody was as convinced by Trump as Vox Day. John C. Wright was far more impressed by the campaign of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson[13] primarily because Wright saw him as standing up to the news media.

“So it is with great pleasure that I see a candidate, and not in a blustering or angry way, rebuke and dismiss the routine falsehoods of the Democrat party activists posing as journalists, and call them out.”

https://www.scifiwright.com/2015/11/ben-carson-just-won-my-support/

Back in March of 2015, Sarah Hoyt was hoping[14] that the Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker[15] would be the candidate that could rescue the Republican Party ideologically. However, his campaign fizzled out fairly quickly but among her regular followers, people remained interested in Ted Cruz. Hoyt though was concerned that Trump might destroy the Republican brand “thoroughly”[16].

Brad Torgersen was sceptical about most of the field but also liked how Ted Cruz was responding to the media[17]. Torgersen was deeply unimpressed by Trump but saw him as a natural outgrowth of voters picking candidates in a shallow way:

“Now comes the Trumpocalypse. He’s loud. He’s rude. He’s not PC. He’s a blowhard. His positions are all over the place. He’s guaranteed to offend almost everybody, and he honestly doesn’t f***ing care. If his own party ejects him, he will say f*** it and run as the Bull Moose man, or some other half-cocked thing.Americans had a chance to be grownups, but Americans showed up at the polls wearing t-shirts that said, “I’m with Derp!”The Trumpocalypse is merely the natural outgrowth of the era of the Unserious.”

https://www.facebook.com/brad.torgersen/posts/1273471422679088

Like Hoyt, Torgersen was concerned about how the media might use Trump’s image to discredit conservatives in general:

“Why America’s liberals love Trump. No really, they do. They love the guy. Trump confirms (for them, in their minds) all the terrible things America’s liberals believe about conservatives all the time. Trump is loud, rude, vain, greedy, unscrupulous, pompous, arrogant, and many other not-nice things. I’ve seen several non-partisan polls showing Cruz out front, but almost all of my liberal FB friends believe absolutely that Trump not only leads, but is the leader going away. I see this asserted over and over again. Usually without any evidence. Trump is “winning” the GOP. And Trump is “proof” that the GOP and conservatives are bad. Not just a little bit bad. But very, very bad. And America’s liberals knew it all along.”

https://www.facebook.com/brad.torgersen/posts/1295278353831728

In August 2015, Larry Correia took a bold step of making some substantive election predictions, stating that he thought that Hillary Clinton would be the eventual Democratic Party candidate and that Ted Cruz would be the Republican Party candidate. In a lengthy post he explained his reasoning, spending time discussing why he thought Clinton would be beat Sanders. On the issue of Trump, Correia regarded him a stunt candidate who was enjoying a temporary boom in popularity, largely due to media coverage.

“But here is the problem with Trump, and it isn’t his personality or being willing to insult people (because if I’m judging these people on personality, I’d probably get along with him in person way better than most of the others, and the Rosie line made me do a spit take). It is because he’s been a Republican less time than Bernie has been a Democrat. When I’ve talked to the hard core Stormtrumpers they’ll say he’s great on the border! Okay, but what about his record on abortion, guns, crony capitalism, government intervention, eminent domain, and single payer healthcare? Suck, suck, suck… oh but on that one he evolved… This week.

For the people convinced that Trump is the Real Conservative in the race, and that the other 15 are all RINOs, put down the crack pipe. This is the same guy who a couple of years ago was outraged about violent videogames and saying how somebody needed to do something about them. Yeah, there’s a dude totally grounded in the Bill of Rights.”

https://monsterhunternation.com/2015/08/11/my-election-predictions/

Like Hoyt, Correia had also regarded Scott Walker as a potentially promising candidate, and also Rand Paul. However, with Walker and Paul polling poorly, he saw Cruz as the strongest conservative candidate.

By Christmas, Correia had included his views on Trump into his annual “Christmas Noun” comedy-skit post. A character explains the current situation with the Republican primaries to Wendell, the spokes-manatee of the Sad Puppies:

“Yes, I know he’s a rich obnoxious bloviating New Yorker, lifelong democrat, Clinton donor, who used to be in favor of an assault weapons ban, who likes eminent domain, restrictions on the internet, wanted the government to do something about violent video games, with policy positions that change by the hour, who has been proudly endorsed by Vladimir Putin, but yes, he is actually leading among republicans who self-identify as “liberal” or “moderate” so the media declared him the new face of conservatism and won’t shut up about him. If he wins the primary like the media wants him to, then he’ll go against one of two batty old socialists who don’t understand basic econ,”

https://monsterhunternation.com/2015/12/18/christmas-noun-8-too-noun-much-adjective/

If Trump was the firm candidate of the Rabid Puppies then Ted Cruz was the compromise least-worst-choice choice of the Sad Puppies. In the Hugo Awards, it had been the Rabid Puppies who had eventually exerted the most control, only to be defeated by the broader body of fans. Would events play out in the same way on the bigger stage of US national politics? Only 2016 would know…

Next Time: Debarkle Part IV


Footnotes

61 thoughts on “Debarkle Chapter 51: Meanwhile…Donald Trump

  1. “A southern border wall was not Trump’s original idea. It was a policy that had been knocking around right-wing circles for some years” According to one behind-the-scenes account, talking about building the wall was the only way his brain could stay focused on immigration.
    Re Pat Roberton, U.S. News and World Report predicted in 1988 that he’d do so well in Super Tuesday — the regional Southern primary which was a new thing at that point — that he’d be in the race all the way to the convention and quite possibly a kingmaker. Never been so happy to see a prediction go down the tubes.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Tpyo Patrol —

    “Among the early-promoters of Obama-related conspiracy theories … promoter of the so-called “Swift Boat” scandal aimed at Democratic Presidential candidate John Kelley in 2004.” — “Kelley” should be “Kerry”.

    “Within his speech, Trump promised … nis signature policy” — “nis” should be “his”

    “Hoyt though was concerened that Trump …” — “concerened” should be “concerned”

    “Like Hoyt, Correia had also regarded Scott Walker as potentially promising candidate, and also and Paul.” — add “a” between “as” and “promising”. “and Paul” should be “Rand Paul”.

    “spokesmanattee” — “spokesmanatee”, unless this is their spelling, If it is, it’s still wrong, but not your problem.

    This is interesting. I never knew any of this early Puppy history. Of course, there was really no reason to pay attention to a few random right-wingers back then. More innocent times.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulation on finishing Part 3. Trump is someone whos time in office is a problem that will have consequences for a lot of time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In 2008, the television series “Boston Legal” had a plotline in which the increasingly senile and bigoted character Denny Crane (played by William Shatner) was being urged to run for President. I enjoyed that storyline more than the rerun 8 years later

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Contra Larry Correia, isn’t violent video games a right-wing issue? And how does he define moderate and liberal Republicans such that it was them who were the basis of Trump’s suppport in the Republican Party?

    Like

    1. It is mostly an isue of old rightwingers. But games were also seen as pro-right wing with Gamersgate, which was mostly a far-rightrecrutingground. As a more rpg-gamer (while very much fur adults, I dodn’t think there was a campaign to ban Dragon Age or the Witcher at last in Germany) I am not that much into the debats (yes I played Mortal Kombat, which was part of the violent videogamesdiscusion)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The German “killer game” debate was weird anyway, since it mostly was conducted by politicians and concerned parents who knew nothing whatsoever about videogames. At one point, even Fifa 2000, a spots game, was accused of being a so-called “killer game”.

        For some reason, the folks who wanted to ban violent videogames in Germany also never latched on to Gamergate, even though here was finally a clear example of videogames indirectly leading to harrassment and violence.

        Like

      2. FIFA is for me a funny moment. I will tell my brother that we were both (theoreticly) okay with his daughter playing a “killer game”.
        I still think nearly all german politicans are unaware of Gamersgate existance. It was never a topic in Germany.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Well, the thing to understand about Correia is that he has the political acumen of a six-year old child, and thus doesn’t actually understand much of what he writes concerning politics.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. Both Trump and Vox Day provided a very direct counter-example to a long running conceit in American political thought — the idea that the most rightwing ideology is libertarianism and that the left-right political axis is essentially as measure of how far away you are from libertarianism.

      Obviously, there are lots of counter examples (Nazis, neo-nazis, white supremacists etc) but they were either ignorable or the point of the exercise (ie to claim Nazis are somehow leftwing). The model requires that somebody like Trump be explained as something to the left of libertarianism and yet everything that happened was supported by the right of the GOP

      Vox Day cheerfully shifted from calling himself a libertarian to calling himself a nationalist (pronounced with a silent “white”) without changing his actual beliefs.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Eric and I watched a talk at the University of Washington a couple years ago about classifying social-media content, and it made a big impression on me. They claimed that the big divide online wasn’t left vs. right or Republican vs. Democrat: it was nationalist vs. globalist. I’ve been trying to use that to interpret various kinds of conflicts since then, and it seems to work pretty well, as such things go.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, or at least that’s the kind of ideological resorting that has been going on since the Bush Sr presidency.

          I didn’t get into here but it’s fascinating to me how 9-11 conspiracy theories in the 2000s were mainly left leaning (with some anti-semitic ones) but quickly became overwhelmingly right-wing and a recruiting ground for the right, even when Bush Jr was still president.

          The idea of this *intrusion* of the outside into a closed world is something that horrifies a section of Americans far more than the actual horror of the act itself.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. As many people have pointed out, the whole idea that we cannot rest safe in our beds if someone might possibly maybe have the resources to attack us reflects that we share this continent with two neighbors, neither of whom attack us. We don’t have Europe’s experience with having to live near people who might invade. It shows.

            Liked by 2 people

        1. Ouch! Cruel but fair.
          I mean, its always been there — the racist content in Ron Paul newsletters etc but there was always this edifice of belief that somehow there was a vast gulf between libertarians and the ‘classic’ far right. Never was.

          OK, a tad unfair. There’s some genuine libertarians but they are so fringe to the political discourse as to be irrelevant.

          Like

  6. I’ve often thought that something happened to Trump’s brain in the early 2000s. Maybe a stoke, maybe tertiary syphilis, but whatever it was, it seems to have provoked a massive change. Not just in his personality but also in his ability to speak coherently. Watch a video of him on a talk show in the 1990s and it’s hard to believe it’s the same man.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s plenty of examples of him talking in incoherent gobbledygook prior to the Double-Aughts. It’s just he used to occasionally take the time to prepare for these things, and after the Apprentice, well, he didn’t. The filter went off, and it just stayed off.

      Like

    2. There is some evidence for the stroke theory, or something disrupting his language ability, anyway. A lot of times I noticed him getting a word almost right and trying again, but still not hitting on the right word. For example, he once tried to say that people should look into the “origins” of something, but said “oranges” instead, tried to correct himself, and said “oranges” again. I knew someone who’d had a stroke who did the same thing.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s been obvious to me for years that he had some sort of cognitive impairment (though unlike Greg, I haven’t watched old footage, so I had no idea that at one point he apparently seemed more intelligent). He has a vocabulary of about 70 simple words, including big, huge, great, best, special, etc., and he repeats those words continuously and struggles to find synonyms (“bigly”? seriously???) to vary his vocabulary. As Lampwick has pointed out, he’s frequently come up with the wrong-but-similar-to-the-correct-word. And every time he’s gone off-teleprompter-script and spoken extemporaneously, it’s been an absolute trainwreck.

        I don’t think there’s a chance in hell he’ll be able to run again in 2024; his cognitive and physical decline over the last 4 years has been significantly noticeable, and I figure that it has only been the healthcare-for-the-wealthy he’s been getting which has enabled him to maintain some sort of functionality up to this point. The loss of platforms and attention is no doubt a constant source of aggravation for him, and that’s likely to have a further deleterious effect on his mental and physical condition. I will be very surprised if he’s even alive in 2024.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Maybe. I’ve had political buffs whose judgment I respect argue that he’s nowhere near that level of collapse, particularly given the medical care he can afford. I’d prefer to believe your take though.

          Like

      2. It’s impossible to really diagnose this kind of thing from a distance beyond the basic “he seems worse” level, for someone like Trump. Being President of the US, even for a total jackass who barely attempts to do any real work, is inherently very stressful and disorienting; whether Trump really expected to win or not, I think it’s safe to say that he was incredibly unprepared for even the perfunctory level of executive responsibility that would be required, and was probably having a pretty bad time whenever he wasn’t golfing or addressing a rally. So someone who already had some level of impairment could appear to decompensate rapidly just because their usual coping mechanisms and behavioral workarounds aren’t effective in this new environment. He could also have been abusing drugs for similar reasons. The resulting impairment would be just as bad and dangerous for the country either way, but if it wasn’t actually due to a degenerative organic condition, he could be a lot more functional as a campaigner when he’s not simultaneously being president. I hope not, of course.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Added: That would not be incompatible with the idea that he had a stroke or something that’s made his baseline significantly worse than it was in the ’80s. It’s just that seeing a decline from 2016 to 2020 doesn’t necessarily mean it is a steadily degenerative decline that will keep going that way. People do sometimes bounce back to a surprising degree once you take them out of a situation that’s been stressing them out and aggravating their weak spots.

        Liked by 3 people

      4. Also “bigly” is a Scottish word and dates back to the early 20th century. I think it may have fallen out of common usage. It’s possible, however, that Trump learned it from his mother who emigrated from Scotland in 1930.

        Like

      5. The Scottish National Dictionary has three definition for bigly. As an adjective it means habitable, but as an adverb it just means to a great extent. It can also mean of great proportions.

        Like

        1. Considering the dozens of other words T*ump has mangled over the last 6 years, some of them in a similar manner, I’m going with Occam’s Razor here and classifying “bigly” as just one more mangling, rather than a clever attempt to use a word from an obscure and obsolete dialect coming from a man with the vocabulary of a kindergartner.

          Liked by 2 people

  7. He definitely had a stroke in office, which led to the panicked Walter Reed trip in the middle of the night and the “can’t walk down a ramp” thing. So it’s certainly possible that he’s been having small ones for years, each sapping away at what little cognitive function and filters he had to begin with. And he was born a narcissist.

    That and the fact that he has a terrible diet, high blood pressure, no exercise, and allegedly his decades-long habit of pharmaceutical amphetamines. All bad for one’s brain health.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The most popular assessment, including by many neurologists, is that Trump is in the middle stages of dementia with PSP, acerbated by his long term narcissism, adderall usage, etc., and that he had a mini-stroke — which happens with PSP — when they ran him over to Reed and gave him the basic cognition test he’s so proud of (and probably didn’t entirely pass.) Like hiding Reagan’s Alzheimers his last years in office, the Repubs and Trump’s aides and family covered up and accommodated his problems in order to use him, since his base didn’t care, and the press went along and kept editing his ramblings to look like they weren’t picking on Trump. But by 2020, the physical and verbal ticks were so strong (such as the ramp incident) that it’s become pretty clear. His shoulder continually jerks involuntarily, which usually throws off his speech, he drags his foot, his centaur stance is classic for PSP, he can’t remember words, names way beyond the occasional senior moment, or scrambles them, he constantly clutches his arms together or braces against a podium, and he frequently seems like he’s drugged because he is probably on a lot of meds. He has no attention span left, wanders off if left unattended and conducted an invisible orchestra during the national anthem last year. He can’t follow a lot of things cognitively so he just repeats things he can hold on to over and over.

      Most of the people who worked with him have fled; it’s only a few grifters left. They are not really gearing up for any presidential campaign; they’re just scamming money which Trump is supposedly using for “travel expenses.” But Trump promised his base that he’d give them white supremacy and control, so he remains the avatar for those things while he can still stand and babble.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “the basic cognition test he’s so proud of (and probably didn’t entirely pass.)” Ah yes, clever widdle Donny, bragging that he was able to recognize five words and remember them. Though I’m sure the doctor knew better than to suggest his patient was anything short of an ubermesnch.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. When he showed off that basic cognition test, I recognized it not as the IQ test he was touting, but exactly what you give to people when they come into the ER. It’s called basic because it is — it shows you’re not hallucinating and your motor functions are largely intact. The doctors use it to determine who needs treatment very soon and who needs a lot of things done right now.

        He’s definitely drugged to the gills at this point just to keep him moving.

        Like

        1. frasersherman: “the basic cognition test he’s so proud of (and probably didn’t entirely pass.)” Ah yes, clever widdle Donny, bragging that he was able to recognize five words and remember them.

          Lurkertype: When he showed off that basic cognition test, I recognized it not as the IQ test he was touting, but exactly what you give to people when they come into the ER. It’s called basic because it is — it shows you’re not hallucinating and your motor functions are largely intact.

          The funniest (or perhaps most pathetic) part of that incident to me was that T*ump was clearly not repeating the actual 5 words on the test he’d been given – the 5 words on the actual test* are deliberately unrelated, to eliminate coming up with the correct words by guessing. “person, man, woman, camera, TV” was him listing the 5 things he was looking at right then.

          * the example shown here is “face, velvet, church, daisy, red”.

          Like

    2. And there’s also the effects of covid. There was a study published the other day that said that hospitalised covid patients, even if they’ve recovered, have long-term cognitive damage on the same order as stroke patients.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Even without Agent Orange, I don’t think Rafael Ted Cruz would have gotten the nomination, just because nobody likes him. Even in Texas, if he didn’t have (R) after his name, he likely wouldn’t be a senator. He’s just so off-putting to so many people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My favorite comment about Ted Cruz is former Senator Al Franken’s: “I like Ted Cruz more than most of my colleagues. And I hate Ted Cruz.”

      Liked by 4 people

    2. I’ve never seen any pundit say this, but I’m convinced that one reason Cruz’s campaign didn’t take off is that his heritage is Hispanic. trump’s base will never vote for a Hispanic candidate (bye-bye, Marco) or a woman (Nikki Haley, especially since she’s a woman of color) or an African-American (Ben Carson). They kept trying to find a Republican Barack Obama, not realizing just how racist their base is. trump may have gotten the nomination because he was the only white male candidate in the bunch.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Dammit, I knew I had it wrong when I hit “Post”. I meant Herman Cain’s dead, of course, along with his fabled 999 plan.

        Ben Carson just left office after being such an obvious scammer even that administration couldn’t stand it.

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  9. Trump’s whole practice has been the debt/bond approach of the 1980’s — he borrows money wherever he can (including from Russia) in what is essentially a pyramid scheme. He borrows money to pay off the interest on earlier loans by constantly setting up new ventures or sales of his name deals that folks are willing to invest in (or launder money with.) He constantly juggles the different debts, refuses to pay contracters/defaults and if parts of the pyramid collapse too much, he declares bankruptcy to get out of the problem. He bankrupted his casinos (very hard to do) because he was borrowing money against them. This is the common practice of the rich — it’s what they live on — but Trump isn’t very good at it. He’s good at the huckstering part by having injected himself as the colorful, obnoxious real estate guy into popular culture (buying up ventures like the Teen USA pageant with loans and then making them put him on camera.) His name recognition had died down considerably until they got the bright idea to prop him up for the Apprentice reality show.

    So each of his presidential/political excursions listed here were indeed PR stunts to help set up ventures and deals, including his 2016 campaign, which was meant to help set up a new t.v./online network deal. His line about the border wall was scripted but the bit about Mexico paying for it was not, though it was based on some things he’d been told. It got such a good reaction from the crowd that he just kept repeating it. And his base sincerely thought he wasn’t actually going to do it — that it was just hype to own the libs. But when the libs mocked it and its lack of progress, then suddenly they all claimed that the border wall was very, very important and now Texas Repubs are trying it out.

    It doesn’t matter how often it’s explained to the right wing authoritarians that two thirds of undocumented immigrants come in by airplane or boat on the coasts, that most undocumented immigrants are those who outstay their work, tourist or student visas or were brought in as kids (Dreamers) or are refugees who are required by law to enter the country without invitation first, that the walls are easy to tunnel under or climb, especially Trump’s scammed black sections, that there’s a ton of entry from the wide Canadian border, that immigrants, undocumented or not, have incredibly low rates of crime, pay tons of taxes without being able to access as many services and aid programs, etc.

    Because they don’t care about any facts. They don’t care about white undocumented immigrants. What they care about is that there are more brown people in the U.S., including immigrants who might become citizens. And most of those new citizens will vote Democrat, the party that is not trying to jail or kill them, and white power and status will decline. That’s all they care about. The Christian theocracy — it’s white right-wing Christian theocracy. The rural good ole boy identity is white rural fakery, not actual black and Latino farmers who get blocked from government aid. The sovereign citizen game is primarily well off white people like Beale’s daddy trying to seize indigenous or public land and water rights. The militia groups are white supremacy networks who hook up with law enforcement wherever they can. We know all this. They know all this. The press mostly pretends not to know it.

    Trump is genuinely a racist, taught by his dad. Obama getting elected did disturb him and he worked against Obama as well as making it a PR stunt. And that’s why his MAGA supported him. They knew that he most supported their viewpoint, that he would happily say their viewpoint. So they turned it into a presidency, the most disastrous one in history very possibly. It was a parallel to the Puppies — different factions with slightly different goals but the main one is always white supremacy.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. “that the walls are easy to tunnel under or climb,”

    The Berlin Wall (which was not just a wall, but 50 to 200 meter wide succession of multiple barriers) was extremely difficult to tunnel or climb, though both has been done. It was also constantly patrolled by border guards who had order to shoot at anything that moved, quite literally. However, let’s not give the white supremacists any ideas.

    Like

    1. The Berlin Wall was also a lot shorter than any U.S.-Mexico border wall would be, and in an area where there was already infrastructure. One of the things I pointed out fairly early is that building a “wall” on the border isn’t just going to entail building a wall. Much of the U.S.-Mexico border is quite remote, and there are no roads, no power-lines, and no water. Before you can build a wall (and patrol it, since a wall that is unpatrolled is less than useless), you have to build all of those things first.

      I knew the Trump administration wasn’t actually ever going to build a wall when they never took any steps to try to solve those problems first.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The inner German border (which was just as nasty and deadly as the Berlin Wall, though less compressed) was almost 1400 kilometres long, part of it in rural areas. But that’s still shorter than the US/Mexican border. And East Germany needed a lot of manpower to maintain what they called “border security” and the rest of us called “shooting at anybody who doesn’t want to live in your country”.

        Most of the deaths at the inner German border were due to drowning in the Baltic Sea and occasionally rivers BTW. That’s also why we still don’t have definitive numbers of how many people died at the inner German border (we do have numbers for the Berlin Wall, but not for the entire border), because a lot of people who drowned in the Baltic Sea just vanished. Occasionally, their bodies were washed up on the Danish island of Bornholm, where unclaimed bodies of drowned East German refugees were a big problem in the 1980s.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Worse, a lot of the U.S. Mexico border is under water, specifically a significant part of it is defined by the Rio Grande. You can’t build a wall in the middle of a river without disrupting the river itself (on top of trying to get anything to stay up under the constant assault of the water flowing by). There’s no way in hell that Mexico would allow it to be built on their soil. So any actual wall would be required to be on the American side of the river, cutting off a chunk of any American land close to the river, as well as cutting off anybody trying to get water from the river on the American side.

        In other words, trying to actually build the wall would piss off any of the Americans who actually did live in the area around the Rio Grande.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. They built enough to use as an excuse to bulldoze Saguaros (Those who live in the areas, including white folks, have said this is closer to cutting down the gods of the desert than chopping down trees — unless the trees you’re comparing it to are Sequoias), disrupt nature preserves, and damage animal migration and territory I think they even ended up disrupting butterflies.

        As far as I can tell, that’s the majority of what they did.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Everything is always worse than you think, even when you take into account that everything is worse than you think.

        Like

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