Democrats Should Stop Crying Trump

           As a businessman, Donald Trump did a lot of terrible things. He stiffed vendors. He hired illegal immigrants as construction workers and abused them. People went into debt paying for his fake university education.

            As a president, Donald Trump was awful. He kept children in cages. During the pandemic he promoted quackery and denied science. He stacked the Supreme Court with right-wing cretins. He claimed Biden stole the election, then encouraged his supporters to keep him in office by means of a coup.

            The truth about Trump is bad enough. So when Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans describe Trump as an existential threat to democracy, God, apple pie, cat videos and everything good and decent in the world, they’re abandoning high political and moral ground that ought to be easy to hold.

            No matter what you think of the former president, one fact belies the overheated handwringing that defines Trump Derangement Syndrome: he served four years, yet here we still are. No World War III. The Constitution remains in effect. Cities are not burning, though they’ve become seriously sketchy. Trump’s coup attempt was, like many of his projects, hardly planned and half-assed executed, and fizzled in a matter of hours.

            In some respects, Trump did well. He negotiated and ordered the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. He held high-level talks with North Korea. He oversaw Operation Warp Speed, which suspended regulations in the interest of developing the COVID vaccine in record time. It is unlikely that Hillary Clinton would have done that stuff.

            When President Biden argues, as he did recently in Philadelphia, that “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” even the most fervent Democrat has to ask themself: if that’s true, why is the republic still standing after four years of this dangerous despot? If Trump wanted to replace our system of government with “semi-fascist” authoritarianism, why would he have waited four long years to do so before ultimately missing his chance—unless, and this is really insane, he’s plotting to finally pull the trigger during his upcoming possible second term?

            Trump is what he is and what he is is reprehensible: rhetorically divisive and bigoted, rabidly anti-intellectual, callous and disrespectful of the high office he held, the nation whose government he headed and the deep need of the people for leadership that takes everyone who lives here, citizens and non-citizens, into careful consideration. It is not, or at least ought not to be, necessary to exaggerate Trump’s toxic politics or personality.

            Yet that is exactly what Democrats keep doing.

Los Angeles Detective Mark Fuhrman claimed he found one bloody glove at the scene of Nicole Brown Simpson’s murder and its match at O.J.’s house, thus justifying a search. That story seemed too good to be true. I believed that Fuhrman found both gloves at Nicole’s place and took one to O.J.’s so he could link him to the killing—O.J. was guilty, he thought. Why not give justice a little assist? The answer, of course, is that the jury didn’t buy the prosecution’s too-neat story. So O.J. walked. Legally correct; cosmically heinous. And it’s prosecutor Marcia Clark’s fault.

Like Fuhrman, the anti-Trump coalition—DNC-aligned media outlets, Democrats, anti-Trump Republicans and their allies in “deep state” strongholds like the FBI—is so determined to nail their quarry that going after him for his actual crimes isn’t enough. They want to be really, really sure he goes down. So they exaggerate Trump’s sins and, in notable cases, make them up out of whole cloth.

January 6th, tax fraud, sleazy business deals, hobnobbing with right-wing extremists—all these offer more than enough grist for a competent political team to kneecap Trump with a disciplined campaign of attack ads and drum up support for civil and perhaps criminal prosecution on the most serious charges. The problem for Democrats is, they keep focusing on lines of attack that were neither true nor could ever have been true—so their credibility is in tatters.

They are the boys who cried Trump.

There was the now-debunked Steele dossier and its sensational—and ridiculous—claim that Trump, a famous germaphobe, hired Russian prostitutes so he could watch them pee on his hotel bed in Moscow…because the Obamas had once slept in said bed. Uh-huh.

            During the 2016 campaign Trump said: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing, I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” Watch the video. It was clearly a joke. Yet corporate media insisted for years that Trump meant it seriously—because, obviously, that’s exactly the way you’d make such a covert, fraught, illegal, international request—and, even more absurdly, that Russian government hackers (who, if they existed, were not actually government employees) got straight to work on Trump’s assignment the very same day.

            The mother of all disinformation campaigns, still ongoing on a cable-television channel near you, was Russiagate—the conspiracy theory that Trump cheated his way into the White House with the help of those self-same Russian hackers. For a man who was allegedly a stooge of Vladimir Putin, however, Trump’s presidency was marked by deteriorating relations with the Kremlin from start to finish. In the end, of course, what never made sense became perfectly clear; the real conspiracy in 2016 was Hillary’s; it turned out that Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussman ginned up the Trump Russiagate hoax and fed it to the FBI with the hope that the ensuing investigation would smear Trump and the Republicans as foreign operatives.

            It is entirely possible to look at Trump and his opponents and conclude: they’re both worthless liars, albeit about different matters.

            The alternative having failed them repeatedly, it is perhaps time for Democrats to try a new line of attack against Trump: playing it straight.

Why not go after the guy for what he’s actually done?

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, co-hosts the left-vs-right DMZ America podcast with fellow cartoonist Scott Stantis. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)


  • I recall similar “derangement syndrome” patterns with Presidents Reagan and Cheney, and with boyking Dubya. But with Trump, I would categorize how a lot of Trump’s opponents react to him as a form of mass hysteria mixed with a form of infantile personality disorder.
    Wandering through the swamp that is the left’s populist marketplace of ideas is horrifying. They’re like Salem 1692 reincarnated as journalism products. All that’s missing is how Trump walked past my cow and now it won’t give milk, or how I bought a dozen eggs, and when I cracked one open, there was a nearly fully formed chick in it, and the chick was still barely alive and it looked at me and said, “Vote Trump 2024” and then crumbled to dust.
    The midterms are, what, two months away? And then two more months for the switchover? I’m really interested in seeing the behavior in that interstitial period. That period between the iceberg slicing open the flank of the ship and the last inch of the hull sinking below the waves. I really do wonder if any of the left’s organs will actually start behaving like adults.

  • To be fair, Hillary probably would have done the warp speed thing. Trump is an enemy of democracy, but he’s an incompetent enemy, he’s incompetent at literally anything he’s ever done. Except for being born into a super rich family, which made him immune. So he could stiff contractors and not end up charged, and go bankrupt 6 times and still have enough money to live rich. I mean the guy inherited like 600 million in NY real estate and went bankrupt (again and again). You couldn’t do that if you tried. One of the funniest things you will ever see is someone explaining that they voted for Trump because he’s such a brilliant businessman. That always comes close to making my head explode.

  • When Biden says “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” he’s not talking about the Steele dosier, collusion with Russia, or any of a dozen other really old news items that don’t ever get mentioned in the press these days (unless you count Fox News and its ilk, in which case they get mentioned frequently). It is the election denialism that is featured regularly in the actual press and that does threaten the very foundations of our republic. I don’t usually give Biden much credit, but in this case he is on topic.

  • @alex_the_tired do you have mainstream, modern examples of “They’re like Salem 1692 reincarnated as journalism products.”? Sure, several years ago there was the Steele dossier and Russian collusion but that’s history, was discredited even by those who financed it, and is not what is happening now. And, yes, I’m sure that you can find some anti-Trumpers who are spouting nonsense to this day. However, my experience is that the vast majority of progressives are now talking about the perils of election denialism, the perils of abortion bans, the perils of failing to enact more of a green new deal, etc. These are all real topics and real critiques. Excepting for a rare few counterexamples — that are featured prominently on Fox News and similar media — where is the evidence that most progressives are blaming Trump for crazy stuff?

    • My apologies for the lateness of this response. As I recall, the original post was in limbo for so long I gave up on it.
      I’m going to call a switcheroo here with your “the vast majority of progressives are now talking…”
      Now? First, I don’t think it’s fair to handwave all that came before like that. The standard message — in fact, the ONLY message — driving the Biden campaign was that he wasn’t Donald Trump. That anyone, an inanimate carbon rod, anyone (except crazy socialist Bernie Sanders) would be better than Donald Trump.
      Second, the message then, AND the message now, has been a continuous, unending, uninterrupted string of articles, newsflashes, updates, email blasts, candygrams, and so forth about how Donald Trump is going to be indicted, going to be arrested, going to be horsewhipped, going to be followed by a septa ringing a bell and shouting “Shame!”, going to be sent to prison for ever and ever, etc.
      So far, at least as far as I can keep up with the gavage tube of “reporting” on Donald Trump, he has been indicted for a civil suit in New York by a DA whose claim is that Donald Trump inflated the price of his assets. Trump’s response to that? “Well, aren’t these lawyers supposed to do something called due diligence? They signed off on it.” I can already tell you how that will be adjudicated: Not guilty. Why? Because, frankly, Trump’s right. This wasn’t a $10,000 loan to consolidate debt. Why DIDN’T the lawyers check? Does anyone, honestly, think Trump filled those forms out himself? “Hey, Don Jr., how many square feet’s that apartment? … Whadayamean you don’t know? I guess I’ll have to find a tape measure. …” He’ll say he reviewed them after they were prepared for him and he made an honest mistake. Even if he’s found guilty, he’ll win on appeal.
      The democrats’ message was, is, and continues to be “Trump’s going down.” Why? Because it is a simplistic, childish, id-gratification kind of message, aimed at an almost animistic revulsion against Trump that was cultivated for years by the democrats to distract their base. The conditioned revulsion against Trump (Trump Derangement Syndrome) is now self-sustaining and serves as an excellent distraction. Distraction from what? From progressive ideas and rallying points.
      Example: Biden’s done nothing worth a fart in a high wind. His IRA (which the New York Times called “ambitious”) has been criticized for not being enough. And it isn’t enough. It is “ambitious” in the same way a crack addict is “ambitious” when she declares that, starting in a couple of years, she’s going to cut back on crack by 15%. Obamacare? Ted’s already written on multiple occasions about its inadequacies. Progressives (and actually a lot of others) want universal healthcare. But the dnc’s owner-operators don’t. Student debt? You can’t get more progressive than “um, 18-year-olds shouldn’t have to impoverish themselves to pay for college when college is pretty much required for career advancement for the many, many people who can’t become carpenters or plumbers or electricians — and who, if they did, would cause the collapse of those occupations’ earning potential.” But here comes Papa Biden with a pittance.
      If the media focused on progressive issues, and if the democratic party discarded the twin divisors of identity politics and centrism in favor of the progressive tactic of economic unity of the underclass, we wouldn’t have the current fiasco-spectacle. Trump never would have gotten into office. Instead, it’s Trump, Trump, Trump, all the damned time. Go look at the major publications. Count the number of articles about Trump. Now hunt around for something about Biden. Compare the two figures.

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