If we lived in a different world, the joke could begin in a familiar, guy-goes-into-a-bar way: “So the president walks into a convention center in Phoenix and …”
But this is the Trump era. Only slices of White House life are just comic. Much more of what the president serves up to American voters, legislators, policymakers and the rest of the world routinely smacks of the tragicomic, at best.
The president’s speech Tuesday night in Phoenix, is just the latest case in point. It had the requisite elements of vaudevillian propaganda (he accused CNN of not broadcasting his speeches as he spoke into a CNN camera broadcasting his speech); damaging cant (he misrepresented his statements following this month’s neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, Va., to repackage himself as the morally sensitive leader he isn’t); flagrant lies (he hasn’t obtained a “historic increase” in military spending); and saber-rattling (he threatened to shut down the federal government unless Congress funds his Great Border Wall).
Trump’s Phoenix “rantathon” also deployed personal broadsides against two members of his own party who are also Arizona’s senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake. He slammed McCain for not supporting a Senate effort to repeal and replace Obamacare and he dismissed Flake as a nonentity (“Nobody knows who the hell he is”).
Pounding on McCain and Flake lacks political decorum, of course, and the shabbiness of it is only enhanced by the fact that McCain is struggling with brain cancer. And Trump, who managed to secure five draft deferments during the Vietnam War, once questioned…
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