Maureen Dowd: Trump revels in own version of dystopia
Nominee and Whitehouse hopeful continues to brag his brash way to general election
Both of Donald Trump’s barbed-wire universes were on display at the convention last week. Photograph: AP
Like any masterly comic book villain, Donald Trump is revelling in conjuring a dystopia. And it’s a natural progression, given that he got this far by revelling in conjuring a diss-topia.
Both of his barbed-wire universes were on display here last week. Trump did not slay a dragon in the way that presidential contenders did in the old days with laurels from the battlefield. In his mythmaking, he slew 16 dragons on the debate stage.
Ivanka offered her father’s hero-myth at the beginning of her convention speech on Thursday night: “He prevailed against a field of 16 very talented competitors.” And how did the political tyro accomplish this seemingly impossible feat?
He dissed all of them, death by a thousand cuts. Jeb Bush was “a one-day kill”, as a gloating Trump put it, with the “low energy” taunt. “Liddle Marco” and “Lyin’ Ted” bit the dust. “One-for-38 Kasich” fell by the wayside.
Trump bragged on it again on Friday morning when he met his convention volunteers here before flying off on Trump Force One. “No matter what your feelings, whether you’re the governor of Ohio, whether you’re a senator from Texas or any of the other people that I beat so easily and so badly, you have no choice,” he crowed. “You’ve got to go for Trump.”
And on the distaff side, we are bound to hear more about “Crooked Hillary” and “Pocahontas” as the ladies celebrate making history in Philly this week.
There is a brutality and harshness about Trump’s two worlds: feral insults that “kill” opponents and a convention so feral that Politico’s Glenn Thrush said he expected to see wildcats wandering through it.
On Thursday night, the nominee painted a crepuscular “Midnight in America” picture of the “death, destruction, terrorism and weakness” that he claimed President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had wreaked.
“Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation,” he said. “Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country.”
America is a disaster, but Trump will descend from his gilded skyscraper and sacrifice himself and move to a mere six-storey white home to save us. Ronald Reagan put a charming, smiling face on harsh policies. George W Bush was a genial candidate who gave no hint of the doom to come. But Trump doesn’t sugarcoat it – take him or face dissolution.
Trump told the crowd that he was presenting the facts “plainly and honestly”, but his dystopia is fuelled by diss-information and diss-tortion, insulting rivals with disturbing, exaggerated and cherry- picked facts and unsubstantiated assertions and conspiracies.
The president has put himself forward as the Trump Fact-Checker in Chief. At a joint news conference on Friday at the White House with the president of Mexico, Obama pushed back on the Republican nominee he disdains.
“This idea that America is somehow on the verge of collapse, this vision of violence and chaos everywhere, doesn’t really jibe with the experience of most people,” the president said.
He added: “When it comes to crime, the violent crime rate in America has been lower during my presidency than any time in the last three, four decades. And although it is true that we’ve seen an uptick in murders and violent crime in some cities this year, the fact of the matter is that the murder rate today, the violence rate today, is far lower than it was when Ronald Reagan was president – and lower than when I took office.”
The rate of killings of police officers is also much lower since the Reagan years, he said. “Those are facts. That’s the data.”
There’s a dissonance in his bleak dystopia and his brash diss-topia as he switches from Dr Strangelove to Don Rickles.
At their meeting with volunteers, a bemused and wary Mike Pence stood behind Trump, looking at him as if he were a big bottle of nitroglycerin. Trump gleefully got back to diss-topia, dissing Cruz because Cruz dissed him – follow along, readers – by not giving an endorsement in his prime-time speech last Wednesday.
“All I did,” Trump said disingenuously, talking about Cruz’s father Rafael, “is point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer, there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast.”
Actually, the picture was of Oswald passing out leaflets about Cuba with a man the tabloid was alleging, through some kind of photo analysis, was Rafael.
Trump said the Enquirer, owned by a friend of his, should be “very respected” and should have won a Pulitzer for breaking the John Edwards love child story.
As Pence looked on with smiling trepidation, Trump asked him if he could set up a “super PAC” while he was serving as president to destroy Ted Cruz but didn’t wait for an answer.
He then went on to review the whole story again about the diss to Melania, when her “risqué” photo in GQ – “a reasonably respected magazine”, he called it – was run in an ad on Facebook by an anti-Trump super PAC and Trump responded by retweeting an unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz.
He called Heidi “a very nice woman and a very beautiful woman” and “the best thing he’s got going, and his kids, if you want to know the truth”.
After more along these lines, he finished with, “So that takes care of the Heidi thing.”
The truth is out there, Donald.
– (New York Times service)