People are Dying, the Economy is Collapsing and Trump Wants You to Look at This Squirrel

Donald Trump’s campaign is in the shit, but his bullshit machine is in high gear.

People don’t trust what he says and don’t think he’s handling the job well, and with an NFL stadium’s worth of dead bodies, can you blame them? 

His run of bad political mojo isn’t over, so you can expect the Trump message machine and Fox News (but I repeat myself) to ramp up into a furious whine to cover up the actual malfeasance going on in front of your very eyes

Trump’s campaign pollsters are Googling “Emigrate to New Zealand” and “join Witness Protection Program” as their crosstabs reveal slippage in key states and key demographic groups. His campaign manager Brad “Big Pimping” Parscale is living large and failing huge, with his job in danger from a whisper campaign led by other Trump allies. What you’re whiffing in the wind isn’t carrion left in a septic tank but the taint of Corey Lewandowski, David Bossie, and Steve Bannon.

Trump’s Republican allies may be blustering about two small wins in California and Wisconsin Tuesday night, but the big picture for the GOP is grim. The Wisconsin race was for an R+8 seat in a conservative slice of the state. The California seat is a neutral battleground whose prior incumbent left under a cloud of scandal. There is no path for a Republican takeover of the House at this time, noise notwithstanding.

The Senate races are getting very sporty, with GOP candidates dipping deeper underwater in places like Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, and beyond. Mitch McConnell is still talking tough, but he’s not sleeping the sleep of the content. At least two GOP Senate campaigns are rumored to be in the midst of full-scale consultant shakeups, always a telling sign of trouble six months out. 

With the Federal Reserve beginning to hint at doomsday scenarios that could make the Great Depression look like a late credit-card payment, Trump feels the ground moving under him. 

“Transition to Greatness” doesn’t have the Churchillian ring he’s going for. It sounds like someone whose name rhymes with Tepid Smushler said, “You know, that incendiary rhetoric on these McKinsey slide decks is too fiery. Let’s dial down the passion way down.” 

On the COVID front, Trump’s “Let God Decide” push to get states reopened and people back to work ran into a buzzsaw of reality, as the soon-to-be-fired Anthony Fauci told Trump toady Rand Paul — who you’ll recall was the first senator to test positive for the virus — and the rest of the Senate Republicans on the Health Committee that rushing to reopen is an invitation to the Corona Reaper to make a sudden reappearance

With the economy in the shitter and the virus in the air, Bill Barr is swimming in the water like a great white shark that must feed on American justice or die, racing to convert the Justice Department and its sweeping powers into a branch office of the outer-borough law firm of Trump, Trump, and Barr. The junior partner’s decision to shatter precedent, the rule of law, and longstanding FBI and DOJ procedures for prosecutions to liberate Presidential bestie and Russo-Turk shill Michael Flynn from his evident and admitted guilt was the most sweeping abuse of power in modern history.  

Fortunately, Judge Emmet Sullivan seems to have other ideas about the separation of powers in the United States of America. 

Obamagate, a title in search of a scandal, and the rest of the torrent of boob-bait bullshit is all part of what my friend Reed Galen calls “Trump’s rhetorical Alamo.” Like a cornered, orange rat he’s desperate to change the subject, desperate for an outlet for his own need for attention, and desperate to keep feeding the limitless maw of his conspiracy-addled followers.

Speaking of rats, the ones in Trump’s abandoned hometown have been fighting each other and resorting to cannibalism as the virus has shuttered businesses and restaurants and cut off their food supply.

The last ring of the distraction Olympics is the rhetoric about China, which Republicans see as a final line of defense against Trump’s utter dumbfuckitude in handling, well, everything. Both Trump and the Senate GOP are betting a lot on attacking their opponents as “soft on China” because it’s one of the very few things that still moves numbers with white working-class voters they need to motivate. You’ll hear increasingly lurid tales of Chinese perfidy in the coming weeks as Trump’s party grasps for a lifeline. 

Of course, it’s projection again; it’s Trump who has spent three years fawning over President Xi. It’s Trump who China has rolled in trade talks. It’s Trump who praised Xi and China’s handling of Corona for weeks as the virus spread.  It’s Trump whose family has racked up patent and trademark deals with the Chinese government — Ivanka branded-coffins, anyone?

Trump has learned over his long career as a lying liar who lies that none of his stories have to be true. (Remember when Hunter Biden was the Biggest Scandal Ever?). They don’t have to hold up. No chain of evidence or pattern of facts is necessary when the Twitter Pulpit allows him to lie with vigor and dispatch. 

Trump is happy to merely cause an explosion of noise, distraction, and once again hack the news media’s operating system. Con artists specialize in finding what people need, and Trump knows the media craves variety, scandal, secrets, and he-said-she-said stories, even of the most dubious provenance. 

The Biden campaign, the media, and Americans who wish to maintain their sanity shouldn’t try to debunk — or even track — the absurd constellation of manufactured outrages the Trump campaign is throwing out there. What they should do is recognize that this blast of noise and bullshit is designed to distract from the real referendum Trump faces this fall. That referendum is simple; it’s a decision about Trump’s failure in managing the coronavirus pandemic and the collapse of an economy he assured America he deserved credit for creating. 

All this Trumpian distraction and destruction is proof that authoritarian game recognizes authoritarian game. Trump, like any good Stalinist, knows that one death is a tragedy but 100,000 is a statistic. His bullshit cannonades from the last couple of weeks reflect his cunning animal sense that the media is borrrrrred with the ‘Rona and the Trump Depression storylines and he wants to give them a way to move on. 

A thousand deaths here, a thousand deaths there, and pretty soon… oh! Squirrel! 

Listen to Molly Jong-Fast and Rick Wilson’s podcast, The New Abnormal, on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.