This Unholy Mess


Pander Express

Just ask the president, he’ll tell you: governance is such a drag. All that policy to discuss, details to grasp, legislators to talk to—sometimes you even have to read stuff. So boring. But campaigning? Ah, that’s another story. What could be more invigorating than being surrounded by adoring fans cheering you on, with no expectation that you will say anything logical or even coherent?
Campaigning has always been the president’s strong suit, because it is essentially a sales job. It’s a free-wheeling, gut-level, emotional process, tailor-made for Trump, the verbal confetti cannon. He has surpassed all other politicians in his ability to make the sale at his campaign events, and this is because those other guys are hobbled with annoying, old-fashioned scruples: they actually feel some need to adhere to facts and to reality when they speak. Liberated as he is from these stodgy old standards, he can sell his products with joyous abandon.
What the rubes do with the snake oil at the end of the day is their problem. All he wants to hear is: ka-ching! Another vote in the till.
And boy, is he stepping up his game in the last weeks before the mid-term elections! Ten rallies in six days! Impressive. There can’t possibly be any actual governance that is needed right now, since everything in the world is going so smoothly, so why not get out there and grab an adulation fix? As always, Mr. Trump has his priorities clearly defined: me, me, me. Okay, and maybe the Secretary of Diet Coke.
It’s instructive to look not just at the frenetic pace of these pre-election gatherings, but at the products he is tossing out to the crowd like rolls of paper towels to hurricane refugees. For instance, he says he is the sworn protector of health care coverage for pre-existing conditions, and that Democrats want to do away with it. Of course anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention knows the whole concept was originally a major feature of Obamacare and that Trump has many times advocated repealing that law in its entirety—including coverage for pre-existing conditions. If it weren’t for John McCain’s memorable vote in the Senate, pre-existing condition coverage would be non-existing right now. The fact that this embarrassing lie does not stick to him like toilet paper on the sole of his shoe is certainly a function of his brazen, breezily amoral salesmanship.
He also tells the adoring throngs he wants to bring drug prices down to price levels paid by European nations. Great idea, if anyone could even define what that means, or what mechanism short of thumb screws and the rack would induce big pharma to go along with it. But for the Great Salesman, none of that is the point. The goal is for people to walk away saying to each other, “He’s going to bring down drug prices! Now I’ll be able to stay medicated enough to still like him!”
How about another tax cut? That’s always a crowd-pleaser. He is touting this one as a “middle-class” tax cut, since the last one, at the end of 2017, is now being perceived for exactly what it was: much more a blatant give-away to corporations than anything to help average Americans. He says this new tax cut will be “around 10%” and that he is working with Congress now to have something ready for the beginning of November. This is right around 100% nonsense, since Congress is not in session until after the elections, but he’s such a genius, he’ll figure it out. He’ll also figure out how to explain away a further addition to the $1.6 trillion dollars his last cut added to the national debt. I’m sure he’s going to have something better to say than “Let the kids and grandkids pay for it—you guys can get a new dishwasher and go on a Caribbean cruise! You’re welcome!”
No doubt it has been especially tough for the president to keep his message as clear and powerful as his pre-nup with Melania, particularly after the recent discovery of shocking mail bombs directed at prominent Democrats by a berserk Trump supporter (probably redundant, I realize), and the tragic shooting of worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue. But not to worry. The president vowed not to postpone even the rally scheduled on the very day of the shooting. “We can’t let evil change our life and change our schedule,” he said. By way of justification, he went on to say that even after the horrors of 9/11 the stock exchanges opened the very next day.
Actually, the exchanges were closed for six days following the 9/11 attack.
Another day, another rally. Another super-convenient lie.

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