President Donald Trump is in the midst of a final push for Republicans ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, which are just 34 days away. That tour took him to Mississippi on Tuesday night, as he stumped for appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.
Just hours before Trump took the stage, The New York Times published a bombshell report laying out in stark terms that a) Trump and his father, Fred, had actively worked to evade tax law to enrich themselves and b) his own wealth was heavily dependent on and derived from his father's wealth. The rally also came amid the FBI's supplemental background investigation into Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
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Those twin pressures seemed to add up to a toxic mix, as Trump spent more than an hour savaging Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, the media, Democrats and anyone else he could think of. It was quite a performance -- and not one that sat well with the likes of Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska and Susan Collins R-Maine, the swing votes on whether Kavanaugh will be confirmed at the end of this week.
I went through the transcript and pulled out the most wild, wacky and woe-is-me lines. They're below.
1. "Well, I have to start by saying that 2020 is looking really easy, isn't it?"
And away we go!
2. "In less than two years, we've achieved the biggest comeback in American history. That's what's happened."
The biggest comeback on what front? Economically? Internationally? Diplomatically? The US Men's National Soccer team? Who knows! Just take his word for it. Biggest ever.
3. "And more Americans are working today than ever before. Today -- ever before."
True! Also, kind of pointless. There are more Americans working than ever before because, well, there are more Americans than ever before. According to The Washington Post's Fact Checker, this claim "might go down as one of the more ridiculous economic claims made by the administration."
4. "We're calling it USMCA. You're going to like that name. That'll become a part of your vocabulary. USMCA."
This line -- in which Trump is talking about how he renegotiated and renamed NAFTA -- is a good reminder of how he is, at root, a brander and marketer. "NAFTA" was a bad name because it didn't make clear how America was the prime mover in it. USMCA -- "United States-Mexico-Canada" -- is way better.
5. "America is winning again, and America is being respected again, maybe respected like never before, because we are finally putting America first."
[Pulls out trusty Respect-O-Meter, checks readings] Yeah, this checks out.
6. "I'm not on the ballot, but in a certain way, I'm on the ballot."
He's talking about the 2018 midterms -- and correct! But that is not good news for Republicans. In all but three midterm elections since the end of the Civil War, the president's party has lost seats in the House.
7. "The only reason to vote Democrat is if you are tired of winning."
And who could be sick of that??? Losers, that's who.
8. "You can really get your wife to like you a lot when that happens."
Trump is referring to the fact that 401(k) values have gone up during his presidency. So, yes, he is suggesting that a sure-fire way to a woman's heart is by making your retirement accounts more valuable.
9. "The Democrats -- and I say this -- and I've dealt with it -- the Democrats are the party of crime."
This feels like a slight oversimplification. Maybe it's just me.
10. "No one under any circumstances is allowed to speak up if you're on this side of the equation."
This sentiment, vague as it is, is the beating heart of Trumpism. His candidacy -- and presidency -- is a reaction to political correctness, liberal shaming and the idea that conservatives need to shut up and sit down. He took that boiling cauldron of anger and resentment and turned it into political jet fuel.
11. "And first in his class at Yale. Top, top in his class at Yale Law School."
Kavanaugh was neither of these things. Neither Yale nor Yale Law School, which Kavanaugh attended, calculate class rank. Kavanaugh graduated cum laude from Yale as an undergrad.
12. "What he's going through: 36 years ago, this happened. 'I had one beer.' Right? 'I had one beer.' 'Well, you think it was ...' 'Nope, it was one beer.' 'Oh, good. How did you get home?' 'I don't remember.' 'How did you get there?' 'I don't remember.' 'Where is the place?' 'I don't remember.' 'How many years ago was it?' 'I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.'"
No one should be shocked that Trump is mocking Ford's emotional recounting of a sexual assault in her teen years that she alleges was committed by Kavanaugh. We shouldn't even be shocked that lots and lots of people in the crowd laughed at Trump's "impersonation." But what we should remember is that this isn't normal presidential behavior. Or, really, acceptable human behavior.
13. "They want to destroy people. These are really evil people."
It's not clear to me who the "they" is in Trump's accusations. Is it Democrats? If so, what evidence is there that Senate Democrats had any role at all in Ford's allegations? If it's Ford (and the other accusers of Kavanaugh), well, then that's a whole other -- and darker -- thing.
14. "Da Nang Richard Blumenthal"
This is the start of an extended riff by Trump attacking Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal for lying about whether or not he had actually served in Vietnam during the war. Blumenthal, who was never in Vietnam during his time as a member of the Marine Corps Reserves, was forced to apologize. This happened in 2010.
15. "And then he cried. When they caught him, he cried like a baby. Like a baby."
Not much is a bigger indictment of you as a man in the eyes of Trump than if you cry. It shows weakness. It's un-manly. One wonders, then, what Trump thought of Kavanuagh's tear-filled opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.
16. "And the reason he got elected is because in Connecticut it's impossible for a Republican to get elected."
[whispers] From 1995 through 2011, Connecticut had Republican governors.
17. "We had another woman just reported by a sleazebag lawyer named Aviante. Sleazebag. Sleazebag."
Who is this "Aviante Sleazabag"? Sounds like a bad dude!
18. "I've had many false accusations. I've had it all the -- I've had so many -- and when I say it didn't happen, nobody believes me."
Reminder: During the course of the 2016, more than a dozen women came forward to say Trump acted inappropriately with them, sexually assaulted them or carried on affairs with them. Trump denied all of the allegations and pledged to sue each and every one of the women for defamation once the election ended. None of those lawsuits have been filed.
19. "You know, I'm listening to commentators, and they say, 'If Trump were running, he's going to beat everybody.' They're saying that. You know, it's hard for them to admit that."
I'm not sure where Trump is getting this quote although it's almost certainly from cable TV -- if it actually exists at all. And for what it's worth: I think he has a real chance of winning a second term in 2020, but I wouldn't make a prediction that he is going to win based on his not-so-great poll numbers at the moment.
20. "You know, with Biden, you go like this -- whew -- and he goes down."
No big deal! Just the President of the United States saying he would knock out the former vice president of the United States with one punch!
21. "And they say if I was on the ticket, everybody would go, it would be a landslide. Even the fakers back there, they say that."
[narrator voice] "They" didn't say that.
22. "We'll be on the ballot in two years, and we will do a landslide like you haven't -- like you wouldn't believe."
The biggest landslide. You'll be amazed by the size of it. Believe me.
23. "Nobody has accomplished more in two years."
This is almost certainly inaccurate. (If you assume "most accomplishments" can be accurately measured.)
24. "You think this is a big crowd in here? This place is packed, right? Right."
Trump is obsessed with crowd size because he believes it is a direct indicator of just how popular he is. Which is why he had then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer make the false claim that his inaugural crowd was the biggest ever. (It wasn't.)
25. "Because we don't need much of a stage. Basketball, they need a big -- you're filled up with people, like it is tonight."
[takes out notepad] Basketball, right. [scratches head, blinks repeatedly, stares blankly into space]
26. "And that kind of dishonesty happens all the time. Happened at the inauguration. It happened at the inauguration."
He's suggesting -- STILL -- that his inauguration crowd was bigger than it was reported!!!! (It wasn't.) It's October 2, 2018!
27. "We are thrilled to be joined tonight by several great Republican leaders."
This is the first mention of why Trump is actually in Mississippi. And it comes more than halfway through the speech.
28. "Look at this guy. Is he central casting or what? Is he -- look at this. He's central casting."
Trump's referring to Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant -- and, in so doing, reminding us all that looking the part is essential to doing the job in his mind.
29. "These are warriors. Look, the abuse they take, the abuse we all take, if you're not a warrior, you just go home, go to the corner, put your thumb in your mouth and say, 'Mommy, take me home.'"
Donald Trump on politicians. And crying. And warriors?
30. "He's jumping around. The hair's going crazy. The hair's going crazy."
Donald Trump has some thoughts on Bernie Sanders' hair. Which is totally fine and not at all ironic.
31. "You know, he's out there. He's doing his thing, whether you like it or not. He's out there doing his thing, and you've got to hand it to him."
What's interesting is that, I think, Trump sort of likes Sanders. They agree on almost nothing, but Trump admires his passion and spunk.
32. "Patrick Leahy -- oh, he's never had a drink in his life. Check it out. Look under 'Patrick Leahy/drink.'"
Just the President of the United States suggesting a Democratic senator has a drinking problem. Totally normal stuff!
33. "Have to do it. We have to do it. We have to do it, and we want to do it. I want to do it. We're all going to do it."
What is Trump talking about here? Would you believe insurance companies covering pre-existing conditions?
34. "We're building the wall. It's going up."
So, the thing is ...
35. "They're going to take your wealth away from you. They're going to take your wealth away."
So, if Democrats win the House, you will be poor. Case closed.
36. "We don't have a magic wand."
[Crosses Trump off running list of "people who might possess magic wands"]
37. "We need a real majority, and we're going to do everything that you've been looking for a long time. You know, with that being said, we've done so much. We've done so much."
In back-to-back sentences, Trump argues that if they had larger House and Senate majorities, then they could really get things done and then that they have already done so much. Sure!
38. "I love you, too. You're not my type, but I love you."
This was in response to a man's yell from the crowd. I'll just leave this here.
39. "Beautiful accent. I wish I had his accent. I would have been president 15 years ago if I had his accent."
The President is admiring the accent of Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the European Union. (Not Jean-Claude Van Damme.) And, yes, Trump he did an impersonation of Juncker, who is a Luxembourger. Which is really what you call Luxembourg natives. Which is terrific.
40. "Do you know how wealthy our country would be if they didn't have these really stupid deals all over the place, so many of them?"
[tentatively raises hand] Um, very wealthy?
41. "The Space Force. And that's what it's all about, folks. You look at what's happening. I'm not just talking rockets to the moon and to Mars. I'm talking about defense. I'm talking about -- that's where it is. It's in space."
The Space Force. It's a force. In space. SPACE FORCE.
42. "Now, who knows, folks? Who knows?"
This feels like a good place to end.