And they started passing out glasses of Kool-Aid…
For months, many of us “establishment hack beta male” types have been wondering when, if ever, Donald Trump’s personality cultists might realize how thoroughly they’ve been had, how severely their blindness has compromised their nation’s last hopes of recovering (peacefully) from its progressive death spiral, and how profoundly the Washington establishment is benefitting from their idolatry. The answer, it now seems, may be that they will never realize it. (To state the obvious, when I speak of the Trump cultists I am talking about the true believers who have been swept up in the “Make America Great Again” TV fantasy, not the rational adults who held their noses in November and voted for a man they would never have imagined they could be reduced to voting for.)
Let’s review the past forty-eight hours of alt-right reality in Trumptown:
Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., has been exposed — along with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, lest we forget — in an attempt to collude with the Russian government to secure an advantage in a U.S. election. (Please don’t tell me they didn’t get any real information on Hillary Clinton. They set up and attended a meeting with that explicit intention. Their failure only shows how incompetent they are; it does nothing to absolve them of the disturbing intention.) This definite “something-burger,” among other things, completely vindicates The New York Times, an optics disaster for Trump, who depends ferociously on being able to claim that all of his media detractors are “fake news.” Not so in this case, which, worst of all, gives the Times unwarranted legitimacy in future attacks against real non-progressives.
Donald Trump himself, once again undermining his defining campaign promise, told reporters on Air Force One that he has no intention of building a wall all the way along the Mexican border, and suggested that even the “700 to 900 miles” of wall that he now says would be necessary might include the 600 miles of barriers that already exist, but are ostensibly being repaired. From which we can apparently infer that he is now promising to build only one to three hundred miles of new wall. “A Little Bit More Fencing!” — doesn’t have such a great ring to it, does it?
He also added, during the same chat with reporters, that he favors “a comprehensive immigration plan,” but that “the country and political forces are not ready yet.” In fact, this suggestion that he favors some form of amnesty should come as no surprise to anyone outside the cult, since his full position all along, beyond the one-sided rhetoric of his cult-baiting primary rallies, was the same position advocated by the New York Times a few years back, touch-back amnesty.
Trump’s lead lawyer defending him in Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation flew off the handle at a private citizen who e-mailed him to demand his resignation, issuing expletive-filled personal threats, calling the citizen a “coward,” and ominously ranting “I already know where you live,” and “You will see me.” This, as RedState’s Susan Wright emphasizes, “is the man Trump chose to represent him against Mueller and his team of investigatory power houses.”
Finally, on a lighter note, the latest amusement — one that might seem relatively benign were the perpetrator not a man known for boasting about his, ahem, immodest behavior with women — comes from France, where Trump gave the French president’s wife the once over and then commented, both to her and to her husband, that she was “in such good physical shape,” while tastelessly indicating her midsection with his hands.
Commentary: maybe it’s just me, but I think if you look carefully at the video, you’ll note that Mrs. Macron responds to Trump by seemingly seeking protection behind Melania, while Melania herself looks down with one of those “Oh God, please shut up” frozen smiles that wives get in such moments. (For what it’s worth, my wife independently noticed the same body language from the First Femme, though she didn’t immediately notice anything special in Melania’s expression — which may only be because women are more used to making that face than observing it!)
Those are just a few highlights over the course of a mere forty-eight hours. And of course all this comes on the heels of Trump’s boast that he had discussed creating a joint cyber security unit with Vladimir Putin, followed the next day by his absurd backtracking claim that while he discussed collaborating on cyber security with an international cyber criminal, he didn’t think it could actually happen. (Gee, that’s too bad.)
How many times have we thought of Trump’s ardent followers (not including those who are literally Russian troll bots), “Surely this will wake them up,” only to find that their devotion to the dumbest puppet in the box remained seemingly unshaken? During the primaries and general election, it was clear that the magic mantra, “The Wall,” was enough to hold the cult’s attention through Trump’s repeatedly revealed ignorance, his longstanding establishmentarianism, and his endlessly demonstrated verbal and moral infantilism. But there must be something that will finally shake them out of it, mustn’t there?
No, there mustn’t. A cult is a cult. Most of the members might actually stick around for the final round, which in this case will be, as per a misused cliché, a round of Kool-Aid.
For years, Americans have been using the horror of the Jim Jones cult’s mass suicide as a political metaphor, as in “Don’t listen to him, he drank the Obama Kool-Aid.” Strictly speaking, this is a poor analogy, suggesting that “drinking the Kool-Aid” equals joining a cult. No, drinking the Kool-Aid, following the Jonestown Massacre model, is something done by one already firmly devoted to a cult. It is the final act of devotion, in fact, refusing to save oneself at the end, when the truth can no longer be denied, but instead trusting one’s idol right into the grave.
Tragically, in this case it is a grave the cult is helping to prepare for their whole nation, not merely for themselves.