What I Believed Monday, I Will Still Believe Wednesday — No Matter What I Said Tuesday
There are three major political parties in the United States: the Republican Party, the Democratic Party and the Trumpeter Party.
The Republicans blow their horns for the rich. The Democrats blow their horns for the poor. And the Trumpeters just blow.
While the Republicans and Democrats are very angry, the Trumpeters are furious. The other two parties are looking for a winner. The Trumpeters are looking for a savior.
This savior will find an enemy to blame for America’s woes. This enemy will have dark skin and a foreign accent and will not be a “true” American, no matter what his (probably phony) birth certificate says.
The savior will have a message. And it will not be unique. Andrew Jackson did pretty well with it in 1832, and a century later, it still had not lost its power. “Every man a king!” Huey Long told crowds in Louisiana in the early 1930s. “That’s my slogan.”
In February 1976, I interviewed George Wallace in the white, working-class neighborhood of Southie in Boston. Five hundred people packed into a small hall, and 300 more waited outside. Wallace spoke for nearly an hour in a strong, resonating voice.
“You will be the kings and queens of American politics!” Wallace thundered. “You! The working men and women will be the kings and queens instead of the ultraliberal left that has been getting everything all the time. Paul Revere rode to say the British were coming. I will ride to say, ‘The people are coming!'”
After his speech, Wallace took questions from the same reporters he had denounced during his speech. Like Trump, Wallace was not afraid of the press. Like Trump, Wallace used the press.
I asked Wallace what his strategy was.
“My strategy? I put down the hay where the goats can get it,” he said, and then he roared with laughter.
Trump is no different in that he does not have to sell his policies. His followers are more than ready for someone who will feed their fears and promise them magic, such as walls that will reach to the sky and be paid for by the same foreigners who want American jobs.
Trump does not need to build a coalition. The coalition is already out there festering, hating government, believing in conspiracies, waiting for someone to focus their anger.
On Tuesday, Ted Cruz woke up and decided to tell people that Trump is a really, really bad guy.
Trump is a “pathological liar” who is “utterly amoral” and does not know right from wrong, Cruz said. Trump has had “venereal diseases” as a result of his “serial philandering,” of which he is proud.
Trump is “terrified of strong women,” Cruz said.
And here is the really bad one: “He’s not going to build a wall.”
No wall? What the heck are we going to spray-paint?
Why did Cruz wait so long to roll out Operation Desperation? This is anybody’s guess. On April 26, after Trump swept Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, Stephen Colbert summed it up with deadly accuracy: “Trump’s candidacy just got five states less funny.”
And Hillary Clinton is not going to dawdle. Though technically she still has to beat Bernie Sanders, she is already ready for Trump. She is fired up and ready to go.
“We’ve seen a lot of rhetoric. We’ve seen a lot of insults,” she said Tuesday. “We’re going to have a tough campaign against a candidate who will literally say or do anything.”
The trouble with attacks against Trump, however, is that they usually lack the snap and verve of his own attacks.
Lyin’ Ted. Liddle Marco. Low-energy Jeb. Crooked Hillary.
As childish as they are, they stick in the mind.
“Ted Cruz does not have the temperament to be president of the United States,” Trump said Tuesday.
But what kind of temperament does the presidency require except a commitment to repeat the same slander day after day. “What I believed on Monday, I will still believe on Wednesday,” the candidate must say, “no matter what I believed on Tuesday.”
And when media outlets started writing a few weeks ago that Trump was dialing down his attacks to appear more presidential, Trump reacted with anger.
“I’m not changing. You know, I went to the best schools. I’m, like, a very smart person,” he said. “I don’t want to really change my personality. I think, you know, it got me here. … I consider myself the presumptive nominee. … As far as I’m concerned, it’s over.”
And as for the rest of the campaign? The remaining primaries, the conventions, the presidential debates and all those speeches?
No worries. It’s easy when you have a plan, and Donald Trump has a plan: He is just going to keep putting down the hay where the goats can get it.
Roger Simon is Politico’s chief political columnist. His new e-book, “Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America,” can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.
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Photo: Brendan McDermid/Reuters.