Don’t Give Trump the Satisfaction

Trump began Wednesday’s infomercial press briefing at 5:50 p.m. by congratulating himself on his handling of the worst pandemic to hit the United States in over a century, and he ended it at 6:12 p.m. by saying this:

“I’ve done more for black Americans than anybody, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln. Nobody has even been close.”

Look, let me just say a few things. As a white man who’s lived a very sheltered existence growing up in the suburbs, there is no way I can ever begin to imagine the pain that statement elicits within the African American community. In fact, no white man or woman can possibly understand it. This is a path only black America is qualified to expand upon.

For instance, I’ll never experience the terror of a simple traffic stop, knowing that just reaching for my wallet to pull out my driver’s license might be the last thing I do on this earth. I’m not a parent, but if I were, I would never have to worry about having that “talk” with my kids about what to do when they get pulled over by a cop. And I’ll never know the humiliation of being followed around a department store by a “helpful” salesman whose only real concern is making sure I don’t steal anything. 

None of these things will I ever experience. What I know of systemic racism – apart from greatly benefiting from it – has come from what I’ve seen and heard, mostly from other white people who just assumed that their racism was shared by me. It’s amazing how presumptuous some of them still are in the age of Trump.

But as a recovering alcoholic, I know a thing or two about buttons and how they’re pushed. I learned a long time ago that it’s my response to a particular situation that often determines its hold over me. If I give it more power than it deserves, it ends up consuming me.

Calling Trump a racist is like calling the oceans wet. It goes without saying. Pointing out his racism is the very essence of redundancy and accomplishes nothing. It is important that people understand two things about Trump: One, he doesn’t care if people call him a racist. If anything, it just makes him that much more popular with his base; Two, it distracts from the real issues that Trump doesn’t want anyone talking about: namely his response to the Coronavirus.

Notice how Trump led off his briefing. He lied his ass off about all that his administration is doing to combat the virus, which is practically nothing, and then, knowing that the networks would fact-check him the moment he ended the briefing, he served up a hanging slider hoping that the media would swing for the fences. And guess what happened? Yep, that’s right. They spent the next few hours expounding on the worst kept secret in the Milky Way galaxy: Trump’s racism.

To be fair, the media did also point out the lies, which for some reason they keep calling inaccuracies. Stop doing that. The man lies; call it for what it is. And while we’re at it, the people in charge of compiling these lies at CNN should receive a pay raise. They’re the hardest working people in broadcast journalism.

My point is, because the pandemic response part got mingled together with that last incredulous statement, Trump got basically what he wanted: a muddied press briefing and a topic of discussion that will never move the needle. Mission accomplished for the master manipulator.

There’s a difference between being ignorant and being stupid. Trump is the former without being the latter. Why is that an important distinction? Because everything Trump does has a purpose behind it. There’s a method to his madness that tends to go unnoticed by many people until it’s too late. In short, no one is better than Trump at deflecting. You could call it his one innate talent.

Yesterday was a perfect example. Just when it looked like the media was going to fact check his ass into the ground, he changed gears and threw them a curve ball. You don’t think he knows that he screwed up the coronavirus response? Even he’s not that delusional. Don’t kid yourself: the White House’s own internal polling shows that he’s losing to Biden, and not just nationally. If they don’t change the lead story, he’ll lose in November. And if he loses in November, and becomes a private citizen in January, he’s f*#ked.

That’s why he’s deploying all those federal agents into Democratic cities. It’s not because they’ve suddenly become havens for violence or that he cares about law and order. The very idea that a man who has spent his entire life one step ahead of the authorities could care one iota about law and order strains credulity. The reason he’s doing this is to intimidate potential Democratic voters in November.

And just in case his intimidation tactics don’t work, or the courts intervene to stop him, he has another trick up his sleeve. Anyone else notice that Trump has moved on from talking about the beautiful monuments to the beautiful suburbs? Someone must’ve told him that even in suburbia they could give two shits about those statues. But Trump knows one thing about the suburbs above all else: they’re predominantly white. And white voters are what got him elected in the first place.

This is the beachhead that Trump is going to fight on and, yes, perhaps die on. He’s given up on the Coronavirus. At this point, if 200,000 people die, so what? A million could die and it wouldn’t matter to him. All he cares about is winning, and he’s telegraphing how he intends to do that. This will be a very dark and disgusting campaign, one in which Trump will throw everything including the kitchen sink at Biden and the Democrats hoping to provoke a response he can use as a wedge issue to win reelection. And the suburbs are the key to his success.

That’s why it’s critical that all of us keep our heads and resist the urge to respond to his racist rantings. He’s looking to get inside our heads where he can fu*#k with us and get us distracted. Don’t give him the satisfaction. He doesn’t want this election to be a referendum on him. Tough shit, it is. If we all stay focused and keep our eyes on the prize, we can end his reign of terror. But if we succumb to our worst instincts and fight on his level, we’ll never be rid of him.

That’s why I’ve been somewhat impressed at the discipline of the Biden campaign. Despite immense pressure from the Left, Uncle Joe has refused to embrace the more extreme positions like the Green New Deal and Defund the Police. Trump tried unsuccessfully to connect Biden to the latter in his interview with Chris Wallace. The presumptive Democratic nominee is proving to be a far tougher opponent to run against than Hillary Clinton four years ago and it’s driving him up the wall. But Biden isn’t home yet. Senate Republicans are moving forward with a subpoena for his son, Hunter, in a desperate attempt to smear Biden, and there’s no telling what shenanigans William Barr will pull to keep Trump in power.

This will be the most consequential election in American history. How well Democrats wage it will go a long way towards determining whether it’ll be our last free one.

Author: Peter Fegan

Progressive but pragmatic. Lover of music, die-hard Giants' fan and reluctant Mets' fan. My favorite motto? I'd rather be ruled by a smart Turk than a dumb Christian.

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