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Facing resistance from both Republicans and Democrats as well as condemnation from citizens all over the United States, President Trump felt a need to be loved again, so he did what he always does when he needs love — he left his house and did a campaign rally. On Wednesday night, it was in Duluth, Minn., where a crowd turned out to cheer their man. Well, most of them cheered. Twice, Trump paused while security forces ejected protesters. “Get ’em outta here!” Trump roared. While the second one was being given the bum’s rush, Trump sneered, “Go home to your mommy, darling! Get him outta here. Out! Was that a man or a woman? Because he needs a haircut more than I do!” It was like a 1960s flashback, with law-and-order politicians like George Wallace yelling about long-haired hippies.
Trump’s anger at the protesters was revealing. I’ve watched nearly all of his rallies, and he has never been this intent on seeing any sign of protest erased. He really lingered on watching the protesting people being removed from his sight — he stared silently, glaring. It was as though Trump resented any disruption in the last place he can get unconditional love anymore — he feels beleaguered in the current state of his presidency.
At another point, his stream-of-consciousness riffing led him to this nugget about his perceived enemies: “They always call the other side ‘the elites.’ Why are they the elite? I have a much better apartment than they do. I’m smarter than they are. I’m richer than they are. I became president and they didn’t.” Aside from being the sort of childish brag a child would be embarrassed to be caught saying, does someone actually need to tell Trump it’s his side that calls liberals “the elite”?
And when I refer to “his side,” I of course include Fox News, which was airing the rally. Indeed, it was the only cable news outlet to do so, and Fox really wanted you to know it. The channel put this unusual chyron onscreen beneath Trump: “Trump Rally Live & Only on Fox News. Other Networks Ignore Presidential Rally.” I’ll give you the rough translation of that: “Fearless leader speaks: State television must broadcast.”
Trump ranted and raved with unusual bitterness this night. It’s clear that on this, the evening after he was forced to back down from his new policy to have some migrant children removed from their parents detained at the border, he was feeling besieged. It led to forced jollity — “Is there anything more fun than a Trump rally?” he asked — and there was a strained quality to his unceasing self-promotion. Toward the end, he interrupted his own thoughts to bellow, “It’s the greatest phrase, I think, in the history of American politics: Make America great again!” It was a clear case of a man trying to convince himself that things aren’t as bad as they seem.
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