A new contender has emerged for the most bizarre moment of the Trump presidency, which is really saying something with this presidency — a rival to the time the President stared directly into a solar eclipse without eye protection.
‘Uh, sir … you’ll have to wear these glasses in order to protect your eyes while you look into the sun.’
On Christmas Eve, in a White House decorated for the season and surrounded by media, Trump spoke on the phone to children who had been patched through by NORAD, a cosmetic attempt at holiday spirit, an island in an ocean of belligerence. As camera shutters snapped, the President spoke with a 7-year-old boy, literally asking him, “Are you still a believer in Santa? Because at 7, it’s marginal, right?”
Often, when Trump does something criticized as unintelligent, a recurring theme, the term ‘unintelligent’ is being used as a synonym for something like ‘reprehensible.’ When Trump shuts down the government over a desire to build his ridiculous border wall, or tries to deny Muslims entry into the country, or stacks the courts with radical judges of questionable standing, many, if not most, find it reprehensible. But, from the standpoint of strategy, these decisions are something less than unintelligent moves in that they appeal to his base, they impress those whom Trump most needs to turn out to vote in huge numbers. This shows up in Trump’s approval rating among Republicans, constantly hovering around 90%.
But the situation is similar even with the more superfluous, like, for example, Trump’s propensity for wandering off at inopportune and inappropriate times. Take the G20 Summit only a few weeks ago, when, after walking onto the stage to greet the host Argentinian President, Trump ambled away before a planned-upon photo op with other G20 leaders. Once off the stage, Trump was overheard on a hot mic saying to an aide, “get me out of here.” But for Trump supporters, the concern is not so much with maintaining strong diplomatic relations with longstanding allies, not with maintaining a position of respectability in the global community, but rather with exerting the devil may care attitude of a country that does what it wants, when it wants, regardless of the desires of the stuffed shirts from around the world.
This is why Trump’s Christmas Eve performance was so bizarre. No matter how grotesque one imagines the stereotypical Trump supporter to be, it’s hard to see many people taking pleasure in an adult telling a small child there is no Santa Claus.
Unfortunately, Trump, though perhaps the most prolific, is far from the only politician in the country who says and does stupid things.
For Democrats, as 2020 begins to approach, the problem is that unlike the President or, more broadly, Republicans in general, when they say or do something unintelligent it has the opposite effect of impressing or energizing their base.
On December 28th, in an apparent attempt to sabotage growing momentum around a Green New Deal, Nancy Pelosi announced another meaningless congressional climate change committee, described by a spokesperson for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as “a screen door on a submarine.” This, despite a poll being released mere days before which showed 81% of registered voters in support of a Green New Deal, and 92% of Democrats.
Elsewhere, outgoing Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly, beaten soundly after distancing himself from progressive policies, proclaimed to CNN, “when you talk ‘Medicare-for-all’ …you start losing the people in my state. When we start talking about, ‘Hey, we’re going to work together with the insurance companies to lower premiums,’ that’s what connects.” This, despite data showing over 55% of Indiana residents support ‘Medicare-for-all,’ not to mention 75% of Americans nationally, and 85% of Democrats.
Question: If you call yourself a ‘moderate’ or a ‘centrist’ yet reject positions held by the majority of the country, of your party, and of your constituents, shouldn’t you be calling yourself a ‘radical?’
Go further and notice the situation surrounding journalist David Sirota, who, after sending out a tweet suggesting Democrats take a look at presumed presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s campaign donation history, was attacked, threatened and savaged by prominent Democratic voices such as the director of the ‘biggest liberal think-tank in the country,’ the pro-Clinton Center for American Progress. Ignore for a moment the oil giants which have funded Beto’s rise to prominence, and instead consider a Democratic base so concerned with freedom of the press in the age of Trump being encouraged by party scions to attack a journalist for reporting the facts.
Many Democrats seem to like the taste of foot, as again and again, they can’t keep theirs out of their mouths. But unlike the President, their ludicrousness does not energize their base, rather, it antagonizes it. Thus, the question appears, in earnest: Do Democrats even actually want to win in 2020?