Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Donald Trump show in Bentonville

Posted By on Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 12:08 PM

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Donald Trump, an insult comic with possibly fascist leanings who is the current GOP frontrunner for president, is holding a rally in Bentonville today. You can watch the livestream here.

UPDATE: Trump (with an assist from Chris Christie) lobbed lots of insults at Rubio. They said he was a little guy with a little mouth and big ears who sweats a lot and never shows up to work. "I'm a strong guy," Trump said, explaining that he almost had to catch the tiny, fresh-mouthed Rubio because he thought he would faint. And so on. 

"We gotta win Arkansas," Trump said. "Maybe I'll start shopping permanently at Walmart if we win Arkansas." 

Trump barely talked about policy, other than to say that he wanted to change libel laws so that he could be more aggressive in suing the media if they dared to write mean stuff about him. Also this: "We should have a new Air Force One, it's very old." And you may have heard — he wants to build a wall along the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it. Trump was much more interested in talking about the minutia of his personal finances and various pieces of pending litigation. On and on, like a drunk uncle over-sharing.

Trump said that he might ask the judge handling the fraud case regarding his scam school, Trump University, to recuse himself. Trump mentioned the judge's ethnicity twice ("he's Hispanic, which is fine"). Later, Trump asked if there were any Hispanics in the crowd. Pointing, he said: "There's a Hispanic. In Arkansas, we have about three [Hispanics]. And that's okay."

My real-time responses in the liveblog below (after the jump), including my confused conclusions about what Trump's fans want and the cult of personality that he projects. 

LIVEBLOG: 

 The Trump plane has arrived. The cult of personality vibe of seeing his name in giant letters on a plane is, well, here you go: 

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Trump and Christie have arrived. Only half an hour late. 

Christie says, "We need Arkansas to be big and strong for Donald Trump." Christie says that Rubio "doesn't work at all." Slams him for never showing up for Senate committee meetings. "Hey Marco, show up for work," he says. He says that Rubio has missed 80 percent of committee meetings. Does anyone care about this line of attack? I doubt it. 

Christie to Rubio: "Unlike the U.S. Senate, president of the United States is not a no-show job, so you're not qualified." Missing senate meetings is kind of a meh attack, but I think the idea is to keep peddling the argument that Rubio is a lightweight who isn't ready. That might work with some older GOP based voters on the fence and Christie is a good surrogate to give some substantive heft to Trump's insult routine. 

Christie on the debates: "When the pressure is on, Donald Trump fought like a man." By contrast, "You saw what happened to Rubio. He melted." Trump is a manly man and Rubio is a girly girl. This is the strategy that I guess works to rally the GOP base. So there you go. What a country. 

Trump says politicians are "all talk, no action." He calls Rubio a "lightweight" — "little mouth on him, bing bing bing bing." 

Trump: "I borrowed a tiny amount of money — I borrowed a million dollars."

Trump talks about polls, a lot. He complains that we're losing and that companies are moving to Ireland ("Ireland!"). He says unemployment isn't 5 percent, like those weirdo statisticians at the Department of Labor say. Really, it's 25 percent. 

"I will address little Rubio," he says. "This guy has a fresh mouth, he's a nasty guy." Trump says Rubio is an even bigger liar than Cruz. 

Trump and Christie are obsessed with the debate in which Rubio awkwardly repeated himself. They've said various versions of the word meltdown a dozen times. 

Trump's fascistic instincts: He says that when he's president, he's going to change libel laws so that he can more easily sue the media for stories they write about him. "We're going to open up the libel laws so we can sue the media and get damages. It'll be amazing how honest they become." 

Trump says he's never seen a human being sweat so much as Rubio. "Thank God he has such big ears to catch all that sweat," he says. Trump says that Rubio was so sweaty and nervous, he thought he was going to faint. "I'm a pretty strong guy, I got ready to grab him," Trump says. "I thought he was going to go down." 

Trump says that Rubio sweats so much it looks like he's just coming out of a swimming pool and Rubio puts on so much makeup it's like he's "putting it on with a trowel." These are stale jokes from yesterday. 

Trump says that the reason that he's beating Rubio by 20 points in Florida is because Florida voters "can't stand the guy." 

"We gotta win Arkansas," Trump says. "Maybe I'll start shopping permanently at Walmart if we win Arkansas."

Trump's core message: "Politicians are never going to get you to the promised land." 

He notes that he got into Wharton because he's so smart. He says he'll say crazy stuff as president. "They'll say it's unpresidential but I don't care," he says. 

Trump is so much more comfortable talking about his finances and pending litigation than he is about policy or even politics. He loves talking about the micro-details, like, the statute of limitations on some legal fight over real estate or the labor market in Palm Springs or some sleazebag trying to shake him down over a casino deal or whatever. He just told a very convoluted story about some lawsuit he's fighting — honestly, I didn't follow the details — and said "this is more interesting than talking about trade." He's like a drunk uncle over-sharing.

Trump just said he was before a judge "who's Hispanic, which is fine." 

Later: "There's a Hispanic. In Arkansas, we have about three [Hispanics]. And that's okay." 

Trump says "little Rubio" got a sweetheart deal on selling his house to a lobbyist. 

"I'm so non-litigious, it's amazing," he says.

Very little policy in this speech but at the end, Trump runs through a list: build a wall in Mexico, repeal and replace Obamacare, protect the Second Amendment, some incoherent stuff about trade. And change libel laws so he can shut mean journalists up. Plus this: "We should have a new Air Force One, it's very old." 

Ted Cruz? He's a Canadian, Trump says. On the other hand, Trump says he likes General MacArthur and General Patton. Trump says "waterboarding is great, but we have to go stronger."

Here is why I can never really understand what's going on in the GOP primaries, why I can never quite relate: So much of this stuff is about expressions of masculinity that have such a sad, sad, sad, sad "protest too much" feel to them that it's hard for me to take it seriously. If someone constantly talks about how tough and manly he is and how everyone else is not tough and manly enough, it's hard not to laugh. Because it's laughable. That's uncharitable, I know, but it's funny! My understanding of this Trump rally is that the wild fear and the deep crisis of masculinity runs so deeply for a subset of the GOP base that Trump's strongman routine registers not as a joke, not as a depressing late-night Vegas act, not as an overwritten SNL routine, not as creeping crypto-fascism — but as virile salvation. 

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