Have you ever had a concussion?
Yesterday I dragged myself to a Donald Trump rally. It was a lot like being concussed. We’re talking about confusion, difficulty remembering, impaired concentration, weariness, headache, lack of motivation, bouts of nausea. Listening to Donald Trump speak is a lot like getting clocked in the noggin with a ball peen hammer.
First off, Trump’s speech — well, it wasn’t really a speech. Not in any traditional sense. Gov. Mike Pence, who introduced Trump (and whose hair, by the way, is so blindingly white that you can only directly look at it through a welder’s mask), gave a speech. A traditional speech with rhythm and applause lines and an internal structure leading to a conclusion. The content of his speech was bullshit, but it was recognizable as an actual speech and it was well-delivered.
Trump, on the other hand, spoke almost entirely in muddled sentence fragments. He had notes which he’d occasionally consult, after which he’d say…stuff. I got the sense the notes held talking points arranged in some sort of order, and a few quotations he wanted to read to the crowd, but mostly he just said…stuff. Much of what he said was stuff he’d said before. I don’t mean stuff he’d said in earlier events (although he did that too); I mean stuff he’d said moments before. He’d say stuff, then say it again in a slightly different order or with a slightly different inflection. Like this: “France isn’t France anymore. It’s not France. It’s not. It’s not France. It’s not France anymore. Many people agree, it’s not. It used be France. Not anymore.” He said that. Maybe not exactly that (it’s hard to recall on account of that whole ‘concussion’ business), but something very much like that.
Here’s the weird thing — well, one of the weird things: I think France isn’t France actually had meaning for him. I have no idea what that meaning was, but he clearly thought he’d made a point. France, to him, was somehow NOT France. Don’t ask me to explain.
Sometimes he’d say stuff he’d said before, then he’d explain how other folks heard and misinterpreted what he’d said. So he’d say it again. He told the story about the crying baby at an earlier rally. He talked about the baby, what the baby was doing, why he loves babies, about how loud the baby was, the baby was like Pavarotti, he wanted to find the baby and hire somebody to give it opera lessons, it was a loud baby, babies are things he loves, but c’mon. Then he talked about how the media reported the Crying Baby Incident, how he was unfairly accused of throwing the baby out of the rally. He spoke about how corrupt the news media is and how wrong they are about him throwing babies. Trump said (again, maybe not the actual words) “I don’t throw babies. I love babies. I don’t throw babies.”
With that I thought he was done with the CBI, but no. He then talked about talking about the Crying Baby Incident with a local newscaster, saying he’d given that newscaster a three-minute explanation of the CBI, explaining in detail what happened with the baby (who by the way, was very loud and Trump was trying to give a speech after all), but did any of his three-minute explanation get broadcast to the public? No. Unfair. Sad.
Seriously, I am NOT making this up; Donald Trump, speaking to voters, did maybe eight minutes on the CBI. The crowd looked pretty dazed and confused. They’d come to cheer and chant slogans. “Lock her up!” “Build the wall!” But Trump wasn’t giving them anything to chant. Not even a crowd of Trump supporters is going to chant “Throw that baby out!”
Trump apparently sensed their confusion, so he dropped the CBI and gave the crowd what they wanted. Hillary and terrorism. Not just Hillary, and not just terrorism — Hillary AND terrorism :
“I can tell you this. If Hillary Clinton becomes president, you will have, you will have terrorism. You will have problems. You will have really, in my opinion, the destruction of this country from within. Just remember that. Just remember I said it. The destruction of our country from within.”
The crowd ate that up with a spoon. These people hate Hillary Clinton. There were folks in the crowd wearing t-shirts with Hillary Sucks, but Not Like Monica on the front and Trump That Bitch on the back. Think about that — people actually wore shirts like that to a rally for a guy who says he wants to be President of These United States. On a couple of occasions somebody in the crowd shouted “Hang the bitch.” They openly referred to his political opponent as a bitch. And nobody was outraged. And why would they be? I mean, when their chosen candidate himself tells them she’s out to destroy our country, why would they be offended by somebody calling her a bitch? That line about destroying our country got cheers and applause, and cheers and applause are heroin to Trump. So he continued:
“She’s really pretty close to unhinged, and you’ve seen it a couple of times, but the people in the background know it. The people that know her know it, and she’s like an unbalanced person.”
She’s unhinged, unbalanced, a bitch. That gave the crowd a reason to chant. That’s what they really seemed to want from Trump’s ‘speech’ — a reason to chant. “Build the Wall!” “USA! USA!” But clearly, their favorite chant was “Lock her up!” The other chants were sort of perfunctory, but they really got into “Lock her up.” They’d been waiting for the opportunity to chant “Lock her up” and damn it, they were going to chant the hell out of it.
By that point I was deep into ball peen to the forehead territory. I was emotionally concussed. So I stumbled out of the hall and spent a few semi-hallucinatory minutes watching Trump supporters try to figure out the best way to offend a small group of Black Lives Matter protesters. A few tried chanting “White Lives Matter” but it didn’t really take.
I wandered down by the river where an Asian family with young kids were hunting Pokemon beside a statue of a giant fishing bobber.
I caught a Jynx. It was that sort of afternoon.