President Donald Trump speaks to reporters during a Cabinet meeting at The White House on October 21, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Trump keeps saying “read the transcript.” But that’s obviously the last thing he wants his supporters to do
November 4, 2019 6:25PM (UTC)
After Donald Trump’s humiliating appearance at the World Series in Washington, where he was met with a cacophony of boos and “lock him up” chants, Trump made a cheap effort at righting the ship by going to an Ultimate Fighting Championship event in New York on Saturday. It no doubt seemed like an easy win to Trump and his adult sons — who accompanied him — since the popularity of UFC is assumed to be based on the same insecure masculinity and love of pointless cruelty that motivates Trump’s base.
No doubt, there were plenty of crappy white guys ready to cheer the orange hobgoblin whose racism and sexism helps distract them from their haunting and absolutely correct fears of their own inadequacies. But even at the UFC match, in the belly of the toxic-masculinity beast, Trump found that people hate him and was met with even more boos.
But this time, instead of just admitting that he can’t stick his head out public without being booed, Trump turned to his trusted friend, gaslighting, to deny the loud, undeniable booing recorded at Madison Square Garden. Trump took to Twitter and claimed it was “like walking into a Trump Rally.” Both Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, who were there and certainly heard the loud booing, insisted the claims about heckling were “fake,” even though, again, the video evidence proliferated online for anyone willing to watch it. Soon, a tedious debate on social media broke out, with Trump supporters trying to muddy the waters and deny what was clearly audible on the videos from Saturday.
It was a rehash of the Trump inauguration, when the White House, through then-press secretary Sean Spicer, vehemently insisted that Trump had drawn “the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration,” a claim that anyone with functioning eyeballs could see was a flat-out lie. And yet Trump’s base played along, choosing to agree with the blatant lie instead of the evidence of their own senses.
These sorts of events, where Trump tells narcissistic lies about his own popularity and his followers pretend to believe him, might seem like silly diversions. But it turns out they serve a purpose. Trump is now pulling the same stunt with his impeachment defense, calling on his supporters to refuse to accept the evidence that’s front of their own eyes, and believe his transparent lies instead.
To recap: The only reason Trump is almost certainly getting impeached in the first place is that, in a recreated (and, apparently, selectively edited) White House transcript of a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump clearly threatens to withhold military aid in order to extort the Ukrainian government into helping him fabricate conspiracy theories. One of those, of course, was aimed at smearing former Vice President Joe Biden and the other, weirdly, was aimed at exonerating the Russian government from the charge it interfered with the 2016 presidential election. This tra