Donald Trump does not enjoy reality anymore, not that he ever had much use for it to begin with. Reality is mean to him. It does not feed his ego, so he has dispensed with it, and is instead endeavoring to spread conspiracy theories about anti-fascists (antifa) in an effort to distract us from the sea change in public opinion on police brutality that is occurring in response to the historic Black-led protest movement that has galvanized the nation.
“Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur,” Trump tweeted yesterday as George Floyd was laid to rest. “75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment… I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”
Here in reality, Martin Gugino is a longtime peace activist in the vein of Dorothy Day who has, in his time, marched against nuclear weapons, the Guantanamo Bay prison, climate disruption, and yes, police brutality. A Buffalo native, Gugino returned home some years ago to care for his elderly mother.
Gugino is not, nor has he ever been, an antifa “provocateur.” The only thing “aimed” was his skull toward the ground, thanks to the cop who pushed him. Now, Gugino is one of hundreds of protesters whose brutalization at the hands of rioting police over the last two weeks has been captured on camera for all the world to see.
That version of reality sucks for Trump, so in order to try and make it go away, he reached into the murky mayhem of the One America News Network (OANN), a hyper-conservative station that makes Fox News sound like DemocracyNOW!.
The OANN segment Trump sourced for his batshit accusation against Gugino was made by Kristian Rouz, who also happens to be on the payroll of Sputnik, the Kremlin’s main propaganda spigot (because, y’know, birds of a feather and all that). If you think OANN sounds like something Dante and Faust might have collaborated on just to freak people out, you’re not far off the mark.
Trump is not the only one whistling past this particular graveyard. His gruesome Gugino tweet has forced a large number of Republican senators to pretend in broad daylight that it never happened. “Even faced with documentary evidence of the president’s inflammatory remark, most Republicans averted their gaze on Tuesday,” reports The New York Times, “declining to comment as they darted through the hallways of Capitol Hill and appearing to wish away what was on paper in front of them.”
The current reality of Trump’s re-election prospects is a grim landscape of compounded crises and catastrophic polls, so of course, that has to change as well. Trump is furious about his standing, and according to reports is considering jettisoning not only campaign manager Brad Parscale, but also son-in-law Jared Kushner, the man whose life gives comprehensive lie to the concept of the Peter Principle.
Two days ago, CNN released a poll that has Democratic challenger Joe Biden leading Trump by a walloping 14 points. This came on the heels of a slew of other polls that have Trump spiraling downward at a remarkable clip. He is trailing in vital battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin and Arizona. Trump’s campaign now finds itself forced to spend time and money defending states like Iowa, Texas and Georgia, which were easy layups four short years ago.
While few will claim that the words “reality” and “polls” deserve to share a sentence after the debacle of 2016, Trump sure seems to think the threat is real enough, and so he has declared war on that, too. This time, however, he has done so in one of the strangest, most laughable ways ever witnessed in modern politics.
In this instance, Trump’s weapon against reality is disgraced pollster John McLaughlin, who has been tasked to conjure a poll that refutes the CNN poll with the 14-point spread. You see, even a man of Trump’s formidable talents cannot be expected to destroy reality without some help.
McLaughlin is a notorious laughingstock within the political polling community, and that, friends, is saying something. McLaughlin cemented his barrel-bottom reputation in 2014 while in the employ of former Republican Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia (“former” being the rub here). According to McLaughlin’s numbers, Cantor was leading primary challenger Dave Brat by 34 points. When the time came to count the votes, Brat obliterated Cantor by 11 points, ending Cantor’s ghastly political career with a meaty thud.
So, yeah, this should work out well.
McLaughlin is not the only one assisting Trump in taking reality for a long walk off a short pier. Recently, his campaign spent upwards of $400,000 to run aggressively pro-Trump ads in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. The point of this was not to try and bag those states in November, because there is almost no chance of that happening under any circumstances; in 2016, Trump lost Virginia by 5 points, Maryland by 27 points and D.C. by 84 (yes, 84) points.
“With Trump stuck in that milieu of anxiety, his re-election team is hoping that the ads may put him at ease that his formidable political machine is hard at work defending him and attacking his enemies,” reports The Daily Beast. “Trump is a voracious consumer of cable news, and — the thinking goes — is likely to see the spots pop up between segments of his favorite shows.”
Shorter version: The “audience of one” concept has reached its zenith with this amazing nonsense. Trump’s own campaign staff is deliberately deluding their candidate while brazenly fleecing his campaign war chest simultaneously. That Trump is so easily gulled is among the more terrifying elements of this entire ordeal.
In response to the massive public revolt against racist police violence in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, White House adviser and vivid fascist Stephen Miller is reportedly drafting a Trump speech on race relations. Miller’s greatest claim to fame is the administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their families and housing them in cages indefinitely. Should it ever come to pass, the collision between that speech and reality will be a supernova of distortion, deflection and self-pity.
Finally, Trump’s Greco-Roman tussle with reality has put the city of Jacksonville, Florida, directly in the COVID crosshairs. The pandemic is killing upward of 1,000 people a day here in the U.S., and a large number of states have seen a dramatic spike in new cases since the Memorial Day weekend.
The fact of COVID motivated North Carolina to balk at Trump’s plan to hold a nominating convention before a cheek-to-jowl crowd of adulating supporters. Because Trump’s version of reality does not enjoy the lethal reality of coronavirus, Jacksonville is now the front-runner for his frantic need to be cheered by people who think antifa are coming in buses to steal their Bibles, or something.
There is no way to predict the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something. That being said, the pattern for the next 146 days appears to be set. Trump is fleeing the reality he has created for himself, and tumbling down the darkened stairs leading to the basement of his own self-delusion. He is taking us with him while doing so, and without a second thought.
Will Trump fall harder than he was pushed? Only time will tell.