Althouse | category: Trump rhetoric



a blog by Ann Althouse

"What, for his part, did Trump really think of his vice president? In one unintentionally revealing anecdote..."

"... Pence relates how he attended the musical 'Hamilton' and, at the curtain, heard one of the cast members issue a statement on behalf of the show expressing anxiety and alarm over the administration’s lack of commitment to protecting a diverse America. 'I wasn’t offended by anything he said,' Pence writes, but Trump 'was outraged — mostly as a New Yorker. "Broadway is almost like going to church," he told me.' When Pence declined to turn the episode into culture-war point-scoring, Trump 'good-naturedly' admonished him: 'You took the high road. I never take the high road.' Somehow one doubts that Trump intended that as a compliment."

From "Mike Pence highlights his heroic hour, and sidesteps the rest/In his memoir, 'So Help Me God,' the former vice president writes of his outrage at the Capitol invasion but is generally soft on President Trump" (WaPo).

Here's my blog post from the time. I was mainly concerned that Mike Pence was put in physical danger.

"'Low-Energy Jeb,' 'Lyin’ Ted,' and 'Liddle Marco,' might disagree about the power of Trump’s nicknames, but ... Trump has been off his nickname game for some time..."

"... and 'Ron DeSanctimonious' is certainly an improvement on recent head-scratchers like Letitia 'Peekaboo' James, Mitch 'Broken Old Crow' McConnell, and Elaine 'Coco' Chao. But 'DeSanctimonious' feels a little too workshopped … possibly because it was literally workshopped. The New York Times reports: 'Mr. Trump has been privately testing derisive nicknames for Mr. DeSantis with his friends and advisers....' Trump settled on the new nickname on Friday, according to the Times, after DeSantis’s wife tweeted a laughably over-the-top video that suggests the governor was literally sent by God to bully teens, harass migrants, and protect children from life-saving vaccines.... ... [S]anctimony generally isn’t the top term that springs to mind when one thinks of DeSantis (that’s more Pence’s vibe). Plus the moniker doesn’t feel authentically Trump; when he tweeted an attack on 'Sanctimonious James Comey' back in March 2018, it set off a Twitter debate over whether the then-president actually came up with the SAT-word insult himself."

From "Ron DeSanctimonious Is a Low-Energy Trump Nickname" by Margaret Hartmann (NY Magazine).

Here's the ad in question:


One thing Trump did was cause most people to talk about Trump. Here was this very creative, well-produced ad, released on the eve of the election and Trump diverted the attention from DeSantis to himself. And with just one word — "sanctimonious."

And the ad isn't sanctimonious. It's playful and funny (and serious at the same time). It's a spoof of something you either know or don't know:


I suspect the DeSantis people thought this ad would freak some people out — What's the matter, isn't God a regular part of your life? — and would amaze, entertain, and inspire others. This is the best political ad ever, some fans might think. 

But Trump just had to go and step on it. The 2022 elections must be about him. And the 2024 election season has already begun. It had to begin even before the polls could close in 2022. Because: Trump.

"With his usual level of class, Donald Trump put out a message of sympathy to the family of Jerry Lee Lewis, 'the Killer' of rock ’n’ roll, who died Friday at age 87, but said nothing all day about the Pelosi family."

Maureen Dowd takes a ridiculously cheap shot at Donald Trump, in "The Pelosis and a Haunted America" (NYT).

There is no general principle that if you talk about anything, you must talk about everything in proportion. It's a fake principle relied on only to criticize people you want to criticize anyway. 

But even if it were a general principle, Trump was at least arguably following it. Jerry Lee Lewis was a great cultural icon, and nothing is bigger than Death. 

By contrast, Paul Pelosi is a significant political spouse, and the attack on him was weird and scary, but it's also a confusing story that is hard to react to. We hope he's recovering. We hope all injured people are recovering. We're horrified at the violence. We deplore all violence.

Does it seem that there needs to be some statement about the political climate in America? Something like: Could everyone please tone it down? Well, once you get that far, speculating about what to say about Paul Pelosi, you can see why Trump's best choice was to say nothing. He's not going to tone down his rhetoric.

Of course, he is criticized for saying nothing.

"The same group of Radical Left Democrats who utilized their Majority position in Congress to create the fiction of Russia, Russia, Russia, Impeachment Hoax #1, Impeachment Hoax #2..."

"... the $48 Million Mueller Report (which ended in No Collusion!), Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine, the atrocious and illegal Spying on my Campaign, and so much more, are the people who created this Committee of highly partisan political Hacks and Thugs whose sole function is to destroy the lives of many hard-working American Patriots, whose records in life have been unblemished until this point of attempted ruination. The double standard of the Unselects between what has taken place on the 'RIGHT,' and what has taken place with Radical Left, lawless groups such as Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and others, is startling and will never be acceptable, even to those who will be writing the history of what you have done to America...."

So begins Donald Trump's written response to the January 6th Committee. Actually there's a heading before that paragraph, in all caps: "THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 2020 WAS RIGGED AND STOLEN!"

Can we conclude — based on the literary style and the odd capitalization — that Trump wrote this letter himself?

ADDED: A crucial bit:

The Department of Defense timeline shows that National Guard troops could have easily been present at the Capitol before January 6th and that I fully authorized this recommendation and request. Following my authorization, the Department of Defense was surprised to receive a wholesale refusal, in writing, from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Capitol Police, who do not report to me, but report to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. The law requires their authorization before any troop deployment could be utilized in Washington, D.C.

Why the failure to act or use this ready force? Had even a small percentage of National Guard or fencing been there, there would have been no problem, January 6th would have been just another date. I did my job long ahead of schedule. Some people call it good instinct, but the troops were ready to go. Nancy Pelosi and Muriel Bowser didn’t do their job, they didn’t like the look of soldiers, and sadly your Committee refuses to say anything about it, because if they did, it would be clear that I did everything correctly, and that is not what the Committee wants to see. You stated openly that Nancy Pelosi is off limits, there will be no discussions on this subject, yet she and the Mayor were responsible for this very bad decision not to bring in the troops. The troops were ready to go, and you refuse to even discuss this subject. Why?

"Can you imagine Jared and his skinny ass camping? It’d be like something out of 'Deliverance.'"

Said Donald Trump, who proceeded to imitate the "Deliverance" the banjo music, quoted in "Donald Trump Belittled Jared Kushner In Front Of Aides With ‘Deliverance' Jibe: Book/It was one of a series of disparaging comments the then-president made about his son-in-law, according to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman" (HuffPo). 

The topic was a proposed RV camping trip for Jared and Ivanka, and we're told that Jared was in the room. I can't tell how "belittling" the remark was without understanding the larger context. Did Jared mock Trump too? What's their relationship? Did both men laugh about remarks about skinniness and fatness? Was Trump also self-deprecating, saying, perhaps, he'd never go camping — and he's afraid of rapists?

Who knows? The remark belongs somewhere on a continuum between just plain nasty and the funniest thing ever, or I guess that's more of a matrix than a continuum.

Anyway, Haberman was choosing how to present the nuggets she gathered, and I wouldn't trust her to recreate the real feelings of the human beings involved. 

And this anecdote does present the old problem of not taking the rape seriously when the victim is male.

Trump, in a 2016 practice debate, purportedly drew a "blank stare" from "the group," when he said "Cocked or decocked?"

From a Daily Beast article, based on the forthcoming Maggie Haberman’s book "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America"

According to an excerpt obtained by The Daily Beast, a week before the second debate unfolded in St. Louis in 2016, Trump’s close adviser at the time, Reince Priebus, presented the aspiring political figure with a question on same-sex bathrooms. 

In playing the role of a female transgender student, Priebus asked Trump whether this hypothetical student could still use the girl’s bathroom. 

Without missing a beat, Trump said he had a question. “Cocked or decocked?” Trump asked. 

Offering up a “blank stare,” the group was taken aback. 

“Decocked?” an unspecified individual in the room responded. 

Trump then began making “a chopping gesture.” “With cock or without cock?” he said. 

At that moment, his advisers sitting within Trump Tower had come to understand that Trump wanted to know if the imaginary student had transitioned and undergone bottom surgery. 

“What difference does that make?” an adviser in the room responded to Trump. The now-former president shot back that such a determination would impact his answer. 

“What if a girl was in the bathroom and someone came in, lifted up a skirt, and a schlong was hanging out,” Trump continued....

Trump accused Fetterman of drug use!

"Fetterman supports taxpayer funded drug dens and the complete decriminalization of illegal drugs —  including heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, and ultra lethal fentanyl — and by the way, he takes them himself..."

Here's the transcript. I missed that as I blogged the very long transcript last night. It was a 2-hour speech that he gave in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday night, and I didn't read every word. This morning, I was listening to a part of it on YouTube — here's the section — and I noticed the shocking accusation thrown in so quickly and casually:

Trump called Fetterman "a raging lunatic hell bent on springing hardened criminals out of jail in the middle of the worst crime wave in Pennsylvania history" and "a defund-the-police Marxist." He called him "a spoiled and entitled socialist loser." We're told he "leeched off his parents’ money" — "You know he lives on the parents’ money until he was 49 years old."

But here's how the drug-use charge pops out:
Fetterman supports setting loose one out of every three inmates in your prisons, and he bragged that his goal is to get as many criminals out onto the street as quickly as possible. Fetterman supports taxpayer funded drug dens and the complete decriminalization of illegal drugs, including heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, and ultra lethal fentanyl — and by the way, he takes them himself— which would mean death and despair for every community in Pennsylvania and every community in the United States of America....

Why did Trump say that? There are many possibilities:

1. Trump is an out-of-control blurter, who might say anything, for virtually no reason at all.

2. Trump has some evidence that Fetterman is a user of illegal drugs.

3. Trump is guessing that Fetterman is a user, and he's putting drug use in issue to see what happens. Will Fetterman deny it? Then people will fact check him, informants may come forward. Why wouldn't they? There's so much at stake. He remembers what happened to Brett Kavanaugh. Why not attract some of that kind of action?

4. He was riffing, stirring up a cloud of fear of crime and disorder and drug use and putting Fetterman in the center of that chaos: Fetterman is wearing a dirty sweatsuit! Fetterman leeches off his parents! Fetterman is a socialist loser! Fetterman uses drugs! It sticks in the mind. That's how you do political rhetoric... if you're Trump.

"Our country’s going to hell. Our country is going to hell," said Donald Trump in his 2-hour Wilkes-Barre speech.

I found a transcript. So let's see if I can find some things to quote.
Our country’s going to hell. Our country is going to hell.

What a theme! We just saw Biden speechifying from what looked like hell (what with that red light), demanding that we join him there, and now here comes Trump, with his own hell theme.

This election is a referendum on skyrocketing inflation, rampant crime, soaring murders, crushing gas prices, millions and millions of illegal aliens pouring across our border, race and gender indoctrination perverting our schools, and above all, this election is a referendum on the corruption and extremism of Joe Biden and the radical Democrat party....

Biden characterized the MAGA Republicans as extremists, and Trump is throwing the "Extremist!" accusation right back at Biden and his party.

As you know, this week, Joe Biden came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to give the most vicious, hateful, and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president, vilifying 75 million citizens, plus another, probably, 75 to 150, if we want to be accurate about it, as threats to democracy and as enemies of the state. You’re all enemies of the state. He’s an enemy of the state, you want to know the truth.

The same rhetorical move: Biden called my people the enemy, so I call him the enemy. 

The enemy of the state is him and the group that control him, which is circling around him, “Do this, do that, Joe, you’re going to do this, Joe.” Right? I think Philadelphia was a great choice to make this speech of hatred and anger. His speech was hatred and anger. By the way, the next morning, he forgot what he said. You saw that. They asked him about, “Oh, I didn’t think I said that. Did I? I don’t know.”

Did he forget to say why Philadelphia was apt because he was hot to say that Joe forgets. 

How’d you like the red lighting behind him, like the devil?

That's making the point quickly. An he gets back to why Philly is fitting:

But Philadelphia was a great choice, because the city is being devastated under Democrat rule, devastated. Hate to tell you....

He goes on about crime in Philadelphia, then recommends voting for Dr. Oz: 

And Oz will send you the goods. Oz, send them the goods. You know what the goods are? Lots of police officers. That’s what the goods are....

Instead of trying to demonize half of the population, Biden and congressional Democrats should focus on stopping the killing and the bloodshed in Philadelphia and every other Democrat-run city in America, where record death and destruction is taking place every single day. Biden thinks making America great again is bad for our country. Do you believe it? That was in his speech. MAGA. “MAGA,” he says. “We got to stop MAGA.”....

He cries out about the raid on Mar-a-Lago, "a travesty of justice that made a mockery of America’s laws, traditions, and principles":

The Biden administration invaded the home of their chief political opponent.... On a phony pretext, getting permission from a highly political magistrate who they hand-picked late in the evening.... They rifled through the First Lady’s closet, drawers, and everything else. And even did a deep and ugly search of the room of my 16-year-old son, leaving everything they touched in far different condition than it was when they started. Can you believe it? The FBI and the Justice Department have become vicious monsters controlled by radical left scoundrels, lawyers, and the media who tell them what to do, you people right there, and when to do it. They’re trying to silence me, and more importantly, they are trying to silence you. But we will not be silenced, right?

The evil and malice of this demented persecution of you and me should be obvious to all.... We are being assaulted by the same group at the FBI and DoJ that, just a few years ago, declared no reasonable prosecutor would charge crooked Hillary Clinton after she set up a secret illegal server to hide her family’s pay-for-play schemes, crammed it full of classified information, allowed it to be plundered by foreign hackers, you know that happened. And then deleted, acid-washed, 30,000 emails. Think of that. 30,000 emails. And what else did she do? Boom, with a hammer, smashed her phone systems to smithereens after receiving the highest level of subpoena from the US Congress.... Yet now these same people, the exact same people, are sending the FBI storming through the home of their number one political rival. It’s a disgrace, a disgrace like, possibly, never before, our country’s never seen anything like it.... 

Before our very eyes, our beloved country is being taken over by the very people who turn democracies into dictatorships, and into, ultimately, ruination....

There's much much more. I'm skipping a lot. Here's the part about Mark Zuckerberg. This begins confusingly with the words "Last week" but then he's not talking about something that happened last week. He begins what is a long parenthetical and then continues with what happened last week. 

Last week, weirdo, he’s a weirdo, Mark Zuckerberg came to the White House, kissed my ass, kissed my ass. “Sir, I’d love to have dinner. Sir, I’d love to have dinner. I’d love to bring my lovely wife.” “All right, Mark. Come on in.” “Sir, you’re number one on Facebook, I’d like to congratulate you.” “Thank you very much, Mark. I appreciate it.” Weirdo Mark Zuckerberg confessed that in 2020, the FBI went to Facebook and the media and gave them the false narrative that the Hunter Biden laptop from hell was Russian disinformation, even though they knew that was not true.

Here's how to read that: "Last week — [long story] — weirdo Mark Zuckerberg confessed [etc. etc.]"

So they went and they said it was Russian disinformation. By the way, the guy that came in with that stuff just got fired. He perp walked. He was perp walked out of the FBI on Friday. But that doesn’t help us and the election of 2020, does it? That doesn’t help us....

Let me leap way ahead to his report about his body: 

It’s about a hundred degrees up here. I’m sweating like a dog, but I’ll call Dr. Oz. Dr. Oz, am I okay? Doctor, am I okay? He says, yes. He says yes. I was on his show years ago, Dr. Oz, I’m going to introduce him in a second, but I was on his show years ago and he did like an examination of me. I don’t know what the hell I did the show for. I wasn’t like even a politician at that point, but he did an examination in the word said, “He’s extremely healthy, really a very, very fine fit, man, but he should lose 20 or 25 pounds. I was so angry. I didn’t speak to him for years. Remember that? He said, “He was great, but he could lose a couple of pounds.”

He shows anger at the doctor for telling him the truth — on TV. But he takes responsibility for choosing to go on the show, and he kicks himself in public: "I don’t know what the hell I did the show for." It's relatable. Nearly every American knows they could stand to lose some weight.

Here's some good stuff about foreign leaders:

So I got to know a lot of the foreign leaders, and let me tell you, unlike our leader, they’re at the top of their game. These are like central casting. There’s nobody that could play the role in Hollywood, all of Hollywood, nobody can play the role of President Xi China. Nobody could play the role. He’s a fierce person. Putin, fierce, is smart. A lot of times I’ll say somebody’s smart and the fake news will go, “He called President Xi smart.” He rules with an iron fist 1.5 billion people. Yeah, I’d say he’s smart. Wouldn’t you say he’s smart? 

So I’m with President Xi and I got along with him very well.... I said, “President,” He’s president for life, by the way. So I call him King. I say, “King.” He said, “But I am not king.” I said, “You are to me. You’re president for life, it’s the same thing.”... 

But I said, “President, could I ask you a very simple question? Do you have a drug problem?” He looked at me like, “What’s wrong with that? No, of course not.” He goes, “No, no.” He’s like, “What the hell stupid question is that? No.” I said, “You don’t have a drug problem with 1.5 billion people?” 

His big problem is they make the drugs, they send them into our country, that’s their problem. That would’ve been their problem and he was stopping it too, but now they’re sending the fentanyl in at numbers that you wouldn’t believe. Wouldn’t believe it, pouring through that porous border at numbers you wouldn’t believe. I had them very close to stopped. He couldn’t do it. I told him he can’t do it. So, “President, President, you don’t have a drug problem? But why, but why don’t you have a drug problem?” ” We have quick trial.” I said, “What is a quick trial?” “We immediately catch the drug dealer. We give him quick trial and if he is guilty,” which I would say probably they’re batting… Would you say… Oz, would you say they’re about batting 100% or only 99%?” “If the drug dealer is guilty, he is immediately executed. So we have no drug problem in each China”... 

He wants the death penalty for drug dealers in America: 

I’ve told this, and it’s a hard thing to say, because calling for the death penalty stuff, but think of it, they kill 500 people during a lifetime.... We would solve that problem so fast and I’m calling on Republicans and Democrats immediately to institute to get to Washington and institute the death penalty for drug dealers. You will no longer have a problem....

He attacks Fetterman and expresses disgust at the sweatsuit:

Your state’s radical Democrat candidate for Senate, John Fetterman is the most dangerous Democrat. He’s the most dangerous Democrat seeking to join Congress this year in one of the most fringe far left freak shows ever to seek election for any office in any state.... He comes in with a sweatsuit on, I’ve never seen a wear a suit. A dirty, dirty, dirty sweatsuit, it’s really disgusting. I’m a clean freak. I’m a clean freak, Oz, I don’t like those dirty sweatsuits, they’re disgusting.

Fetterman made dress like a teenager getting high in his parents’ basement, but he’s a raging lunatic hell bent on springing hardened criminals out of jail in the middle of the worst crime wave in Pennsylvania history. He wants everybody out of jail, and by the way, he wants to get rid of your police. Fetterman is a defund the police Marxist who’s just pulling the wool over people’s eyes, who literally said that if he had a magic wand and could fix one thing, he would end life sentences without parole for murderers, cop killers, rapist, and other monstrous criminals, that’s what he said. He wants them to get out jail. Get out of jail. “Let’s put Trump in jail. Let’s get these murderers, let these murderers out. Put Trump in jail. That Trump is no damn good. He just works his ass off for this country.”...

Skipping ahead to the end, we're back where we began, with the country going to hell:

We’ve got a Federal Bureau of Investigation that won’t allow bad election changing facts to be presented to the public and a Department of Justice that refuses to investigate egregious acts of voting irregularities and fraud. And we have a president who is cognitively impaired and in no condition to lead our country, and everybody knows it. We are a nation that no longer has a free and fair press. Fake news is all you get and they are truly the enemy of the people. We are a nation where free speech is no longer allowed, where crime is rampant like never before, where the economy has been collapsing, where more people died of COVID in 2021 than did in 2020.... And perhaps, most importantly, we are a nation that is no longer respected or listened to around the world. We are a nation that in many ways has become a joke.... But we are not going to let this continue.... We will stand up to the radical left lunatics and the rhinos and we will fight for America like no one has ever fought before.... There is no summit we cannot reach. There is no challenge we cannot meet. There is no victory we cannot have. We will not bend. We will not break. We will not yield. We will never give in. We will never give up. We will never, ever, ever back down....

"What, for his part, did Trump really think of his vice president? In one unintentionally revealing anecdote...""'Low-Energy Jeb,' 'Lyin’ Ted,' and 'Liddle Marco,' might disagree about the power of Trump’s nicknames, but ... Trump has been off his nickname game for some time..."Trump accused Fetterman of drug use!

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