Donald Trump has always suffered from what is called “Scarlett O’Hara” syndrome in wanting things in the short-term and not worrying about the long-term effects. He’s run the country in this fashion for nearly four years, and now all those chickens have come home to roost. Keeping in line with the Southern terminology.
The past month has seen new revelations come from his niece Mary Trump with her massive bestselling “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.” That shook things up at the White House as the niece released audio of Trump’s sister dumping on her brother right before the Republican National Convention began. Then there was The Atlantic story that broke about Trump’s calling military veteran’s “suckers” and “losers.” Then Melania Trump’s former best friend dropped her book “Melania and Me,” to be followed in short succession by former fixer Michael Cohen’s “Disloyal,” and White House scooper Michael Schmidt’s “Donald Trump v. the United States.”
Supporters Just Don’t Care
With any other president, things would have been over long ago, but Donald Trump is America’s first president who truly just didn’t give a f***, so his diehard supporters will never be swayed by anything he does or says. I know for a fact as my in-laws are loyal Fox News and Donald Trump fans. I learned long ago never to try and convert them to the light, but I have asked from time to time what it is about him that they love so much. The answer always stays the same. “He’s just like me.”
At first, I was confused that poor white southerners could think that a ‘billionaire’ real estate developer was just like them, but then it hit me. Donald Trump has always been that person looking in the window, frustrated that he will never be invited inside. So many of his supporters feel like the liberal elites have slighted them in all forms and think they are better. Trump also delights in always blaming others for his problems, and sadly, I’ve found that many of his supporters are exactly the same. Rather than taking a very close look at themselves and the choices they made, they would rather say that it’s the liberals and Democrats who are ‘keeping them down.’
So, in that light, Trump does have one very important thing in common with his people. What makes him so dangerous is that he knows this about his supporters so no matter what books and facts come to light, they will never cause them to turn away.
For those interested in more Trump, read any of the books mentioned in this article as they are very much worth your time.
Now along comes Bob Woodward’s headline stealing book, appropriately titled, “Rage.” This is the ninth president he’s covered, and Woodward knows how to make each book a media splash. The audio tapes released showing that Trump always knew how deadly the coronavirus was caused quite a noise in the MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN world, but Fox News covered up for him as is usually the case. With anyone else, their poll numbers would have taken a tumble, but Trump supporters are leashed and bound to their new master so don’t expect this finely written book to cause much, if any, damage.
BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM RAGE
Mr. Trump minimized the risks of the coronavirus to the American public early in the year.
Despite knowing that the virus was “deadly” and highly contagious, he often publicly said the opposite, insisting that the virus would go away quickly.
“I wanted to always play it down,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Woodward on March 19. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”And while he was saying publicly that children were “almost immune” to the virus, he told Mr. Woodward in March: “Just today and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It’s not just old, older. Young people too — plenty of young people.”
In April, as he began to urge the country to reopen, Mr. Trump told Mr. Woodward of the virus, “It’s so easily transmissible, you wouldn’t even believe it.”
Two of the president’s top officials thought he was “dangerous” and considered speaking out publicly.
Gen. Jim Mattis, Mr. Trump’s former defense secretary, is quoted describing Mr. Trump as “dangerous” and “unfit” for the presidency in a conversation with Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence at the time. Mr. Coats himself was haunted by the president’s Twitter feed and believed that Mr. Trump’s gentle approach to Russia reflected something more sinister, perhaps that Moscow had “something” on the president.
“Maybe at some point we’re going to have to stand up and speak out,” Mr. Mattis told Mr. Coats in May 2019, according to the book. “There may be a time when we have to take collective action.”
Ultimately neither official spoke out.
Mr. Trump repeatedly denigrated the U.S. military and his top generals.
Mr. Woodward quoted Mr. Trump denigrating senior American military officials to his trade adviser, Peter Navarro, during a 2017 meeting.“They care more about their alliances than they do about trade deals,” the president said.
And in a discussion with Mr. Woodward, Mr. Trump called the U.S. military “suckers” for paying extensive costs to protect South Korea. Mr. Woodward wrote that he was stunned when the president said of South Korea, “We’re defending you, we’re allowing you to exist.”
Mr. Woodward also reports that Mr. Trump chewed out Mr. Coats after a briefing with reporters about the threat that Russia presented to the nation’s elections systems. Mr. Coats had gone further than he and the president had discussed beforehand.
When asked about the pain “Black people feel in this country,” Mr. Trump was unable to express empathy.
Mr. Woodward pointed out that both he and Mr. Trump were “white, privileged” and asked if Mr. Trump was working to “understand the anger and the pain, particularly, Black people feel in this country.”
Mr. Trump replied, “No,” and added: “You really drank the Kool-Aid, didn’t you? Just listen to you. Wow. No, I don’t feel that at all.”
Mr. Woodward writes that he tried to coax the president into speaking about his understanding of race. But Mr. Trump would only say over and over that the economy had been positive for Black people before the coronavirus led to an economic crisis.
Mr. Woodward gained insight into Mr. Trump’s relationships with the leaders of North Korea and Russia.
Mr. Trump provided Mr. Woodward with the details of letters between himself and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, in which the two men fawn over each other. Mr. Kim wrote in one letter that their relationship was like a “fantasy film.”
In describing his chemistry with Mr. Kim, Mr. Trump said: “You meet a woman. In one second, you know whether or not it’s going to happen.”Mr. Trump also complained about the various investigations into ties between his campaign and Russia, saying that they were affecting his abilities as president and his relationship with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
“Putin said to me in a meeting, he said, it’s a shame, because I know it’s very hard for you to make a deal with us. I said, you’re right,” Mr. Trump said.
WHERE THINGS STAND NOW
President Donald Trump is fighting to move past another bad week following revelations that he downplayed the threat of the coronavirus throughout the spring even though he knew better. Democrat Joe Biden and his allies have seized on the issue, although there are new signs that would-be supporters, especially in the Latino community, remain unenthusiastic about Biden’s candidacy.
Meanwhile, as early voting in key states gets underway, Trump is embarking on an aggressive travel schedule backed by an army of on-the-ground canvassers. Democrats, by contrast, continue to do much of their voter outreach over the internet.
At the same time, another billionaire is stepping in to help Biden.
Will Bob Woodward’s “Rage” do much damage to Donald Trump campaign?
It may feel like old news by now, but Bob Woodward’s new book is scheduled for official release on Tuesday. The formal release will include more rounds of publicity that will ensure damning revelations about Trump’s leadership on the pandemic — among other issues — will continue to reach broad swaths of voters.
Trump’s team was already worried about his standing with older voters in some states, largely because of his chaotic response to the devastating public health threat. The last thing the Republican president needs seven weeks before Election Day is continued reminders that he intentionally downplayed the deadly nature of the coronavirus.
Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., last week called him “a murderer.” The death toll is approaching 200,000 Americans, even though just five months ago Trump predicted that between 50,000 and 60,000 would ultimately die.
Will Democrats keep pushing to win?
A growing chorus of Democrats in key states are worried that Republicans have an advantage in the election’s closing days because of the GOP’s willingness to show up on voters’ doorsteps. Biden’s team continues to resist in-person canvassing in deference to the pandemic, preferring to rely on the internet to host most of the Democrats’ voter engagement efforts.
We went door knocking in south Florida late last week with volunteers from a conservative group, LIBRE Action, and we were surprised by how many voters were willing to have doorstep conversations about the election — from a safe distance with masked activists. There were certainly a few voters who waved off the canvassers, but based on our experience door knocking across several elections, the response rate seemed productive.
Javier Fernandez, a state Senate candidate in South Florida, told us that he joined a group of several Democratic candidates that began knocking doors in person over the weekend. Despite the risks, he said, “there’s a lot of value with direct voter engagement.”
We’ll see if Democrats in other states make similar moves, even if Biden’s team does not.
Does Biden’s Really Have A Big Latino problem?
Just one poll last week suggested Biden may be underperforming among Florida’s Latinos, but we spoke to several prominent Latino leaders and rank-and-file voters who report that Biden’s struggle to energize the diverse voting bloc is real.
Biden’s team has strengths elsewhere that could make up for any potential shortfall — particularly among older voters, suburbanites and African Americans — but any challenges with the nation’s fastest-growing demographic should be cause for alarm. Biden’s problem may be most apparent in Florida, but Latinos represent a significant voting bloc in other swing states such as Arizona, Pennsylvania and even Wisconsin.
Many Latinos are quick to say that Trump’s rhetoric and actions are abhorrent, but they also say that Biden hasn’t given them much to be excited about. On several issues like deportations, border security and health care, Biden has been to the right of his more liberal former Democratic presidential rivals. Also, there are signs that Latinos are particularly susceptible to Trump’s focus on protest-related violence and false accusations that Biden is a socialist.
Biden will be in Florida on Tuesday. Trump, meanwhile, spent part of his Sunday courting Latinos in Nevada. He campaigns in Arizona on Monday.
Can Mike Bloomberg’s millions make a difference?
In case you’re getting numb to big numbers in political advertising, we thought we’d provide some context for New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s weekend pledge to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help Biden.
Should he follow through, and history suggests he will, Bloomberg’s advertising investment will exceed the combined Florida advertising reserves of both presidential campaigns and all their allied super PACs, who have committed a total of $82.4 million through the next seven weeks, according to the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.
There is no more expensive swing state on the 2020 map and there is no state more important to Trump’s reelection than Florida. Polls suggest that Trump and Biden are locked in a close race there.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
With so much disinformation flying around about voting this fall, we’ve found a great site with just the facts and only the facts about voting in each state.
See it here: https://www.vote.org/
Every state allows voters to cast ballots before Nov. 3, either in person or by mail. Our graphic will explain specifically when that process begins, how to participate and even how to request absentee ballots. We also include running tallies for how many ballots have been requested in each state and how many have been cast.
Mail voting is already underway in some states, and Pennsylvania begins offering no-excuse in-person absentee voting on Monday with Minnesota and Virginia following suit on Friday.