Pres. Trump’s latest non-campaign rally was technically held in Phoenix, but it was really held — as his non-campaign rallies are — in Paramus. Like Sally Field’s aging TV diva in Soapdish, when the going gets tough, the President goes to Paramus to have his ego massaged by his adoring fans.
It’s probably not coincidental that this rally was announced amid of the uproar over his botched response to the tragic violence in Charlottesville. Indeed, if you doubted that Charlottesville hurt Trump, consider that he spent the large, opening segment of his appearance attempting to rewrite the history of his comments (while still leaving out a condemnation of the alt-right).
[Update: The latest Politico/Morning Consult poll, conducted post-Charlottesville, shows Trump at a new low in job approval for this poll, sliding from 44-52 to 39-56 in a week, with almost all of the erosion coming from self-identified Republican voters.]
Also consider that Trump-friendly pollster Tony Fabrizio published numbers (as pro-Trump spin, weirdly) showing that Trump’s job approval among the GOP base has declined 12 points since June, down to 75%. For comparison, 75% is roughly at the low end of where George W. Bush stood in 2006.
By pure coincidence, Fabrizio further tweeted numbers showing GOPers still don’t like the establishment media, who were a major Trump target last night. In fairness, this might well be a coincidence, as Trump continues to have a love/hate fixation with the MSM and recognizes how his base loathes them.
In return, the MSM played its ritual role in the post-speech drama, histrionically questioning Trump’s mental fitness, professing their great fear for the Republic, etc. etc. Fmr. RNCer Mike Shields tried to talk his fellow CNN panelists off the ledge, but he didn’t get very far with it.
The key takeaway, however, is that we have seen this all before. All of it.
Once the media douses the fire in its collective hair, one likely news hook for this speech will be Trump’s quasi-threat to shut down the government over the likely inadequate-to-Trump funding for The Wall™. But how much of this is Trump recognizing that The Wall™ is Number One on the Rally Hit Parade? A Trump rally without The Wall™ is like a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert without “Freebird.” (I passed up the easy Pink Floyd joke!)
Similarly, the media may pick up on the degree to which Trump’s latest Airing of Grievances was designed to further his feud with Sen. Maj. Ldr. Mitch McConnell. (Fabrizio also coincidentally compared Trump’s decline to a greater decline for the GOP Congress.) Again, Trump rode to the GOP nomination mostly attacking the GOP, so there’s little new here, even if it winds up harming all involved.
Attacking Sen. John McCain? He’s done that too, albeit when McCain was just a war hero, before he was diagnosed with brain cancer. And there was the usual red meat tossed to the crowd on immigration and trade, with relatively little on Afghanistan (shortly after a national address thereon), North Korea (though he may prefer Kim Jong Un to CNN), infrastructure (following “infrastructure week”), or tax reform.
This was not Trump barnstorming to push any agenda item currently on the front burner. This was Trump in Paramus. This was an event intended to boost Trump’s spirits and to try to stem the steady erosion of his job approval even within the Republican Party.
But people have been hearing Trump’s tropes (and the MSM’s horror) for almost two years in many cases, and his job approval has steadily declined since Trump’s inauguration. Trump playing the hits for the 25% of the electorate that will never leave him seems an odd strategy, until you remember that Trump has deluded himself into thinking he won the Biggest Election Victory Evah and that the polls are Fake News because he won an upset.
Expect the Airing of Grievances Tour to continue, with every stop at Paramus. It seems to be the one thing Trump enjoys about being President.
[Update: After finishing this post, Politico reported a story with details about Trump’s denial of his sagging poll numbers, rejection of advice to try to appeal to people outside his core vote, and going off-script during last night’s tirade.]
PS: Consider sharing this post with the buttons below, as well as following WHRPT on Twitter. Thanks for reading and sharing.