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CSotD: Believe you me

I tend to avoid cartoons that simply mock someone without making a salient point, but Clay Bennett is spot-on in noting that Trump has begun to step over the line from deeply prejudiced to deeply disturbing.

The cartoon is insulting, but meaningful. Best tradition of the format.

As noted often, most presidents have put experts on their staffs and then listened to them, not only in forming their opinions but in deciding how to express those positions to the public.

Over the past three and a half years, however, we’ve had to adjust to a president who cannot focus on briefings and sometimes skips them entirely, who doesn’t read the documents his staff gives him and who shoots from the hip with statements his staff often has to walk back.

We’ve even seen him manipulate, for instance, the Justice Department to mirror his positions rather than the findings of the Mueller Report, and, more recently, the CDC to underplay the impact of a pandemic he has determined will resolve itself.

And we allowed his supporters to parse his praise of good people on both sides when one side was chanting antisemitic slogans and championing white power. Which made the public somewhat numb when he began to retweet QAnon and other racists.

But, as much as we have come to accept his championing of daffy snake oil cures and oddball theories, his interview with Laura Ingraham struck, as Bennett illustrates, a true tinfoil level of delusion.

Believing that someone got on a plane and found it full of armed, black-clad antifa terrorists is at least a sign of alarming gullibility, if not of genuine insanity.

Not only does he express no doubt about the story, but he doubles down on it by insisting he can’t give details because “it’s under investigation.”

By the time Richard Nixon began wandering the halls of the White House talking to the portraits of past presidents, the Republican leadership was already preparing an exit strategy.

That’s quite a contrast with the current RNC, which has formally declared that its only policy for the next four years is to support Donald Trump.

 

And Dana Summers is not the only conservative commentator who is blaming unrest on Democratic leadership for having asked the president not to come to their cities.

There are any number of ways in which the accusation fails, starting with the fact that conservatives from the center out to the fringe have, from the very founding of our nation, been strong, dogmatic advocates of states’ rights.

To suddenly pivot and advocate a strong central government overruling local control is beyond simply being inconsistent.

Presidential visits to crisis centers are always disruptive: GWB drew criticism for flying over the wreckage of Katrina, but first responders expressed relief that he didn’t drop by to drain resources for a photo op while they had real work to be doing.

 

However, the president did drop by to commiserate with a storekeeper whose business was burned in the riots, and, when he declined to be seen with Dear Leader, they brought in the owner of the property instead, who had sold the business itself eight years ago.

 

 

Which might be a harmless, only slightly phony, photo op, if the president had condemned violence on both sides instead of apparently standing up for the 17-year-old shooter in Kenosha while decrying the death of a pro-Trump supporter in Portland.

Instead, as Matt Wuerker points out, he’s the one seen flying around on airplanes to bring disruption.

Which disruption brings about an interesting

Juxtaposition of the Day

 

(Nick Anderson)

 

(Gary Varvel)

The main challenge here is that, IMHO, both cartoons are flawed, but for diametrically different reasons.

I agree with Anderson’s point that the anarchists are providing Trump with a strong argument for re-election, but I wish the onlooker were BLM rather than MAGA, because that skeptical look seems displaced.

I’m not sure the MAGAts know what’s really going on in the streets — okay, I’m pretty sure they don’t — but it’s the peaceful demonstrators who need to focus and to reassess things.

And at the risk of being criticized for being old (or, to put it another way, for knowing WTF I’m talking about), we saw this in the days of the Antiwar Movement: Sometimes, it was simply overheated rhetoric at demonstrations that drove away moderate supporters, but it was also direct provocation of police that turned peaceful marches into police riots.

Then, too, some decried it, some defended it. Everything old is new again.

Which brings us to Gary Varvel, with whom I rarely agree, though, in this case, I would, if I thought he were singling out the anarchists as distinct from the mass of protesters. Which I doubt, and that may not be a fair reading, but, then again, it’s a cartoonist’s job to be clear.

In any case, they’re both right that the rioters — as distinct from the protesters — are doing more harm than good. Support for BLM is fading, and whether that translates into increased support for Trump is an open question that we’ll close in November.

 

Meanwhile, not only has Dear Leader come out in support of the vigilantes, as shown by Jimmy Margulies

 

… but now armed screwballs are driving around in trucks with giant Trump and US flags, and Michael de Adder draws the obvious parallel.

Though the Russian puppet press is dubious about it. (We’d look into that, but Russian interference in our politics is no longer a fit topic for investigation.)

After this exchange at yesterday’s press conference it occurs to me to wonder what might happen if the wrong police officers happened upon someone who looked like Tamir Rice or John Crawford just holding a paintball gun, never mind firing it at anyone.

In any case, it’s been barely three years since Dan Perkins, aka Tom Tomorrow, famously complained that trying to satirize Trump was like trying to take a drink from a firehose.

He’s still awfully good at it, but his sinuses must be getting quite a washout.

 

Community Comments

#1 phil von neupert
September/3/2020
@ 6:45 am

Yes, the tin-foil-hatters have found their leader. A Klan hood might be the only mask Trump would ever wear. (“Look, it fits perfectly!”) De Adder’s cartoon is great comparison. Middle Eastern fascism alongside American fascism. As usual, Mike, your choices are spot-on.

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