To say Donald Trump was playing to a friendly crowd at CPAC on Saturday would be to grossly understate the case.
In the days leading up to the president’s Saturday speech, attendees an the annual conservative insane-a-thon were “treated” to a veritable cornucopia of crazy, courtesy of a who’s who of right-wing propagandists and conspiracy theorists ranging from Charlie Kirk to MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.
Long story short, this year’s gathering cemented the GOP’s transformation into a religious personality cult that’s becoming more detached from reality with each passing week.
Trump came into Saturday stinging from a failed summit in Hanoi and seething at the prospect of an expansive House probe into his personal finances and business dealings following bombshell testimony from Michael Cohen, who warned Republicans that if they don’t wake up, they’ll find themselves in his shoes by the time this national nightmare is over.
Well, suffice to say Trump didn’t disappoint the MAGA faithful in Maryland.
His CPAC speech, which clocked in at roughly two hours, sounded like it walked straight out of an 80s SciFi flick set in a future where America has become a farcical dictatorship.
The low point was undoubtedly the moment when Trump, sweating amid loud “USA, USA!” chants, declared that “there are people in Congress who hate America and we can name every one of them.” Here is a clip that will live in infamy.
That sounds suspiciously like a call to violence against Ilhan Omar and it comes less than 24 hours after the following poster was displayed in the West Virginia Capitol Rotunda at an event sponsored by the state Republican Party:
That, folks, is your Republican party. The type of party who would countenance that poster at an official, state event.
Trump threw in some profanity on Saturday, claiming that there’s a conspiracy afoot that involves people trying to “take [me] out with bullshit”.
Adam Schiff got a new nickname, as Trump proceeded to claim that House Democrats who are investigating him for possible criminal activity are “sick people.”
He constructed a ridiculous strawman, implicitly claiming that unnamed Democrats have suggested that immigrants are “far better” than native born citizens. He then proceeded to attack that strawman, in the process dog-whistling to every racist in America with what amounted to a declaration of racial superiority/white supremacy.
On the prospect of Congress passing a resolution to nullify his emergency declaration, he attempted to turn the tables on would-be GOP defectors on Capitol Hill and he did it in the most dictator-ish way possible. Republicans, you’re reminded, are wary of allowing Trump’s emergency order to stand because they believe it might set a dangerous precedent for future Democratic presidents. Rather than address that issue, Trump instead said the best way to avoid that scenario was simply to keep him in power.
This seems like an opportune time to remind you that just 72 hours ago, Michael Cohen warned Congress that if Trump loses the 2020 election, he will not allow a peaceful transition to a new administration.
At one point during his obligatory border diatribe, Trump started shouting (literally) about how “daughters are going to be raped”.
Trump of course weighed in on baby “executions” and, predictably, he mischaracterized, distorted and otherwise lied, before declaring that “they will execute the baby after birth”.
He also tried to claim that when he begged, on national television, for Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, he was just kidding.
Facing withering criticism from all corners, Trump attempted (again) to explain away his contention (delivered on camera, in Hanoi) that Kim Jong-Un didn’t know about the mistreatment of Otto Warmbier.
As a reminder, here is that actual quote from Trump’s post-summit presser:
[Kim] tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word. Those prisons are rough. They’re rough places, and bad things happen. But I don’t believe he knew about it.
That is so absurd that “absurd” doesn’t even capture it.
The president knew exactly how to pander to the crowd, shouting out Candace Owens and Charlie Kirk, eliciting wild cheers for the duo, who he calls promising “young Americans”.
Trump took aim at Jerome Powell, calling out his Fed chair explicitly and implicating the FOMC in undermining the US economy.
That’s another unacceptable public assault on central bank independence. Markets likely thought Trump was done maligning Powell after January’s policy pivot, but apparently that was wishful thinking.
Oh, and finally, if you’re curious as to whether Trump made his entrance to Lee Greenwood and proceeded to grab the stars and stripes by its flag-pussy, the answer is……….
“When you’re a star they let you do it.”