Robert De Niro’s hysterical meltdown will only drive voters towards Trump

Robert De Niro outside Manhattan criminal court
Robert De Niro has been a vocal opponent of President Trump - Bloomberg

In the year 2024, it may seem unlikely that anyone in America, or indeed on planet Earth, has yet to decide what they think of Donald Trump. Robert De Niro, however, evidently believes that such people exist – and that, to help these poor confused creatures finally make up their minds, what they desperately need is some expert political analysis from a Hollywood actor.

Hence the extraordinary scenes on Tuesday, when the 80-year-old star of Goodfellas, Taxi Driver and The Irishman turned up outside the Manhattan courthouse where Trump is facing trial and, before a startled media, launched into an eye-poppingly frantic diatribe against the former president.

If returned to office in November, Mr De Niro gibbered, Trump would declare himself “dictator for life” and very likely “destroy the world”. And so, faced with this terrifying existential threat to life on Earth, “the only way to preserve our freedoms and hold on to our humanity” is to “vote for Joe Biden”.

I don’t think you need to be a fan of the 45th US president to find these claims ever so slightly hysterical. For one thing, Trump is about to turn 78. So “dictator for life” would be an ambitious goal. He’d be doing well to last the four years he’d been elected to serve. “I’m declaring myself dictator – at least till naptime.”

Still, next to Joe Biden, I suppose Trump does look ominously young and fresh-faced. And, given Biden’s calamitous poll numbers, perhaps celebrity Democrats like Mr De Niro have concluded that the only way their man can still win is to convince the public that Trump is Hitler, Stalin and Voldemort rolled into one.

Unfortunately for them, however, this type of shrieking alarmism is only likely to backfire. As we in Britain saw during the EU referendum, voters are not necessarily persuaded by wealthy liberals’ warnings of imminent armageddon.

Indeed, such an approach can drive voters in the opposite direction. It makes them suspect that they’re being taken for fools. And, in this particular case, they may well think: “Look, we all know Trump is crass, egotistical, and has more temper tantrums than a toddler on Red Bull. But ‘destroy the world’? Like a baddie from James Bond? Give us a break. The Dems must be totally out of ideas. If that’s all they’ve got, maybe they deserve to lose.”

I did say at the start that voters will already have made up their minds about Trump, one way or another. But if anything is likely to make them think again, it’s being treated like gullible children. So if, come November, the US public refuses to believe that Trump is plotting to bring back slavery, nuke the moon and strangle every kitten in America, I hope Mr De Niro won’t be too astonished.

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