Dirty little non-secrets: Trump on the stump and other political madness.
T he more things change, the more they stay the same.
Trump on the stump.
Former President Trump appeared on home turf last weekend when he spoke for two hours(!) to his homies at CPAC, an organization that has morphed from conservative Republicans to crazy people.
The two hours consisted of riffs we’ve all heard before and a couple of new ones. (“I am your retribution!”) But, according to CNN’s ace fact-checker Daniel Dale, Trump was up to his old tricks/lies (read for yourself). And he visited the site of the Ohio train derailment. While he didn’t toss bottles of Trump-branded water to the citizens, of course, he promised he would send some. (Reminder: He never misses a commercial opportunity.)
Dirty little non-secrets.
The Fox News channel was exposed via discovery in the Dominion billion-plus dollar defamation lawsuit when a bunch of texts were uncovered showing that the talking heads at Fox (Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and others) knew all along that the Trump camp was lying about the “fixed” 2020 election. In text after text it was clear they didn’t believe any of it, but they still talked about it nightly to ensure good ratings.
Of course, Fox is apparently not covering that lawsuit on air so its viewers, dominated by Trump voters, aren’t hearing the facts from Fox so they aren’t believing them. And with the new majority on the Supreme Court there are efforts being made to have the court override New York Times v Sullivan which has guided libel and defamation claims for nearly 60 years. Plus, Carlson the other night started airing some of the thousands of hours of January 6 tape Speaker of the House McCarthy gave him exclusively. Of course, what you saw, according to news reports, was people inside taking pictures like tourists. And none of them injuring law enforcement or doing millions of dollars of damage to federal property. Nor, I’m guessing, many mention of the hundreds charged with crimes from that day. Plus, Tucker has much more to come. (Fox: News You Should Lose.)
Newspapers continue suffering.
The above item regarding the Sullivan case is particularly scary because local newspapers keep going out of business or are cut to the bone by venture capitalists. As regional and local papers die, the readers are the real losers because many of the issues closest to them are not covered. Transparency and accountability disappear.
This was dramatically demonstrated in a kind/sorta good way last week. The last New Jersey reporter on Capitol Hill was laid off by the Newark Star-Ledger’s owner, NJ Advanced Media, which cited cost savings. As a tribute to his decades of fair reporting, his layoff was protested when New Jersey U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and 12 more in the state’s congressional delegation sent off a letter asking the news organization to change its decision. That’s a tribute to the reporter, Jonathan Salant, a veteran of more than 40 years, and his fair-handed coverage. As more and more politicians outright lie about things and there are fewer local and regional reporters around to shed light on them, the country loses big time. One more institution targeted to end.
Not to mention, but let’s .. Ron DeSantis.
Florida’s governor, and soon-to-be presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is on a national tour promoting his new book which is a best seller, likely, similar to other politicians’ books, because a political organization spent thousands of dollars to buy copies to give away to donors.
DeSantis’ presidential campaign kickoff includes not just a national book tour (which takes him – surprise! -- to several important primary states), but a planned session by the Republican-dominated Florida legislature which is on the cusp of passing much legislation DeSantis wants primarily so he can point to his “success” as a non-MAGA MAGA Republican. The legislation includes many education measures aimed at things like gender studies and diversity programs in state universities, expanding a prohibition on teaching sexual orientation and gender identity through the 8th grade and banning the use of preferred pronouns in K-12 schools. (opponents call that last bill the “don’t say they” bill.)
All that, and more is so DeSantis can campaign to the MAGA faithful that he is governor of the “wokest” state in the country and what he did to Florida, he can do to the entire country. By the way, there is one more bill about to be voted on in Florida and that would repeal the “resign to run law.” If passed that means if DeSantis shouldn’t become president, he can campaign without stepping down as governor.
Talk about rigging an election!
Is Biden too old to run again?
I don’t know. For me, yes but if he’s the Democratic candidate and DeSantis or Trump lead the GOP side, I’m voting for age. I think a lot of people are in that category, in fact. Biden could announce he’s not running again and that would set up Vice President Kamala Harris as a leading Democratic candidate. Many don’t think she’s up to the job, though she has many attractive positives to offer as a candidate. She did give an excellent speech on Ukraine and Putin, and clearly put the time into practicing it because her delivery was the best seen from her.
Problem overall with Biden not running is it doesn’t leave a lot of candidates who can take on Trump or DeSantis successfully. (Crazy and totally unlikely idea: Biden announces he is running and is allowing the Democratic convention to select the vice presidential candidate and, because he needs to demonstrate his loyalty, endorse Harris as that candidate.)
In Florida, don’t say bad things about the governor.
Disney was taught that lesson some months ago when it came out against DeSantis’ efforts to remove rights from the LGBTQ community. The two latest moves are noteworthy: An appointee to DeSantis’ new oversight board in control of Disney’s special tax district called homosexuality “evil” last year AND passed along a (need I even say) baseless conspiracy theory that tap water could be making people gay.
Plus, there is a bill making it through the Republican-led legislature that would require bloggers who write about elected officials to register with the state – a violation of the First Amendment that even the current court (I think) would find unconstitutional. Even Newt Gingrich called it “insane” and said it was an “embarrassment” that a Republican introduced it. For the record, the state senator who is sponsoring it is Jason Brodeur, who represents the Orange County area.
Finally, a third party??
Let’s hope not. Donald Trump benefited from a GOP primary including as many candidates as possible in 2016. His supporters are hoping the same develops this presidential cycle. It’s pretty much a given that Trump has a solid 35 percent or so of the Republican vote. The more candidates, the stronger that 35 percent is.
Now there are battle lines forming, also, among those who think the time is perfect for a third-party candidate. The argument there is, who would that candidate siphon votes from? Trump? Biden? Since Trump has that assumed 35 percent of the Republican base, any votes siphoned from Biden helps Trump or whoever the GOP candidate becomes. Also, Trump won the presidency in 2016 without a majority of the popular vote. He could do that again with a third party involved.
(Sensing an anti-Trump vibe? For the record, I oppose vehemently another Trump presidency, as I did his first. The man, whether he planned it or not, is in position to, with another term in office, destroy the country by stomping on the Constitution and eating away at the rights it gives us all. No question he would become the fascist leader he aspires to. DeSantis promises to do for America what he did in Florida – another danger because he, too, has limited rights for citizens, not expanded them. Both put our country’s future at risk.
And that’s just how it is.)
— AUTHOR —
▫ B. Jay Cooper, Former deputy White House press secretary to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Also headed communications offices at the RNC, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Yale University.
▪ Text: This piece was originally published in The Screaming Moderate and re-published in PMP Magazine on 12 March 2023, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
▪ Cover: Flickr/Gage Skidmore. - Donald Trump. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)