For fascism to take hold in America, James Waterman Wise, Jr. once said, there would be no “brownshirts” or “insignia” by which we might identify the messengers (how could he have known about MAGA hats?), but that it would be “wrapped up in the American flag and heralded as a plea for liberty and preservation of the Constitution.”
Donald Trump has just hired Joseph Goebbels — sorry, Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News. Same difference, really. Republican hopes for a post-convention pivot to the general election wanted the Donald who promised “I will be so presidential, you will be so bored.” Surprise — he lied. Putting Bannon in charge of the campaign as CEO is a clear signal that things are about to get nasty.
Wait, what? There wasn’t enough bigotry, jingoism, xenophobia and bold-faced lying already? Nope — they’re about to crank it up to eleven. Trump’s press release bragged that Businessweek once referred to Bannon as the “most dangerous political operative in America.” Who ever thought we’d miss Karl Rove? The Wall Street Journal quoted Herr Drumpf as saying, “I want to win. That’s why I’m bringing on fantastic people who know how to win and love to win.”
For Bannon, “winning” means loading up the lie cannons with everything they’ve “got” on Hillary Clinton, whether it be fact or fiction. According to Bannon, “[Trump’s] thing on illegal alien crime (which was patently false) was literally taken off the pages of Breitbart. Whoever put it in front of him, he was speaking of many of the themes we’ve been (dishonestly) covering for years.” Fact-checkers should refill the prescriptions of Provigal® ASAP.
At Breitbart, Bannon was a thorn in the side of “establishment” Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (“establishment” being a code word for (mostly) “sane”). Ideologically, his online presence has been a toxic brew of the pig-headed intransigence of the TEA Party, laced with an ethno-nationalist chaster. The man in charge of America’s über-rightwing “Pravda,” now controls the Republican message machine. Terrific.
Former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort (who The Times of London reports was directly involved in sabotaging planned NATO exercises in Crimea — and we all know how that worked out for Russia), is still with the campaign. His feeble attempts to write a script for Teletubby Trump which might appeal to middle America were an unmitigated disaster. Trump can not read from a teleprompter to save his campaign, so they’re back to stealing from Aaron Sorkin, saying “Let Trump be Trump.”
MORE FROM TOM JOAD: Republicans Are Trapped in an Abusive Relationship with Donald Trump
A couple of weeks ago I wrote “Donald Trump’s behavior is a Gish Gallop of offensive, tone-deaf, and/or potentially cataclysmic geopolitical gaffes.” That gallop is about to become a stampede. Lost in the shuffle was Trump’s outreach to the black community – speaking to a lilly-white audience in suburban Detroit. Nobody’s talking about Fox News founder and sexual predator Roger Ailes providing presidential debate prep, either.
If Hillary Clinton’s all-star presidential transition team had gotten half the coverage Trump’s floundering campaign shake-up is getting, I think Americans might just breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that the future of our country should be in pretty good hands — if you ignore the poll numbers and actually get out and VOTE.
Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will serve as chairman of the transition team with four co-chairs, including Neera Tanden (head of the Center for American Progress), Maggie Williams (director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard), Tom Donilon (foreign policy expert who worked at State under Bill Clinton and on the National Security Council for President Obama), and former state’s attorney general, US attorney, and two-term governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm.
Politico is reporting Trump said he’d “do whatever it takes to win this election.” Whatever it takes — with the glaring exception of appointing smart, capable, experienced professionals who know what it takes to manage political affairs on both a national and international level. Instead — he hired the most successful liar on the Internet.
Paul Begala paraphrased the mantra from Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign to explain why Trump’s latest “shakeup” will fail: “It’s the candidate, stupid.” The more they “let Trump be Trump,” the more his poll numbers are going to tank. The current Trump campaign strategy seems to be a desperate attempt to drag Hillary down with him.
Trump, Bannon, Manafort, Ailes, Hannity and others are banking on advice they got directly from Vladimir. No, not Putin — Lenin. “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” No — it doesn’t. It just confuses stupid people. And no — partisan politics be damned — not all Republicans are stupid.