Trump brings search for boogeyman to Nevada superspreader rallies

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(Screenshot from Trump campaign's video of Minden rally in September)

It would be nice if Donald Trump’s campaign rallies in Nevada over the weekend are remembered just for spreading lies and not the coronavirus.

But that modest hope, like hope in general in the fourth year of Trump’s occupation of the White House, was blown to smithereens Sunday night when Trump packed thousands of people into a Henderson forklift manufacturer’s facility so they could stand cheek-to-jowl and shout their devotion, maskless.

The coronavirus is “deadly stuff,” Trump said privately but on tape to Bob Woodward in February. “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said, presaging what his campaign would encourage in Minden and Henderson over the weekend.

“It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu,” Trump told Woodward.

While Trump was saying those thing to Woodward privately, Trump was telling the American public things that were the exactly the opposite, things like the virus was “very well under control in our country” and the number of cases “within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”

Not content to lie to the public about the coronavirus while stubbornly refusing to develop anything approaching a plan to confront it in the spring, Trump intends to use his reelection campaign as a mobile coronavirus distribution center in the fall, the easier for his devoted fans to share the rona among themselves and then spread it to their friends, families and communities.

His supporters love him deeply. And madly.

Alas, their affection appears to be unrequited.

As they were standing in line in Henderson to go in a building and “just breathe it in the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Gov. Steve Sisolak issued a statement blasting Trump for “taking reckless and selfish actions that are putting countless lives in danger here in Nevada.”

“Early on in this crisis, when it came time to exhibit real leadership and make difficult decisions to protect the American people, he failed to develop a unified national response strategy,” Sisolak said. “To put it bluntly: he didn’t have the guts to make tough choices — he left that to governors and the states. Now he’s decided he doesn’t have to respect our State’s laws. As usual, he doesn’t believe the rules apply to him.”

Trump’s indoor rally is “an insult to every Nevadan who has followed the directives, made sacrifices, and put their neighbors before themselves,” Sisolak added.

Ya think?

The city of Henderson issued a warning to Xtreme Manufacturing, the forklift seller that hosted the Trump superspreader event, saying the city could levy fines “as well as suspend or revoke the business license.”

Trump and Republicans would love if the city of Henderson did that, because it would serve one of the GOP’s top priorities for America in the 21st century: Giving the kids on Fox News something to hyperventilate about on air that will set the GOP base’s hair ablaze.

Bread, butter and the boogeyman in Minden

The Trump events weren’t staged merely to endanger Nevada’s citizenry by spreading the coronavirus.

There were lies to spread, too. 

There’s a chance, s’pose, that Sisolak really does get under Trump’s skin, it being one of the thinnest orange substances in the observable universe.

Then again, Trump’s raps against Nevada’s governor, particularly at the Minden rally, might just be part of the show.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I watched Trump talk for more than some 30-second blast of absurdity that made the news. But I watched the video of his Minden rally (a fair portion of it anyway). I’d forgotten about his mid-mod Catskills delivery. I kept expecting him to say “take my wife, please.”

Evidently some people still dig the shtick.

But the bread and butter of Trump rallies has always been, must always be, baseless attacks on … whoever Trump is in the mood to launch baseless attacks on at the time. And after the helter-skelter prompting the hastily arranged alternative weekend rally sites, for which Trump and Nevada Republicans blamed Sisolak, you knew Trump would go after him. 

Not that Trump rally attendees would ever mind or care, but as it happens there is no evidence whatsoever that Sisolak was, as Trump falsely asserted, “calling venues, telling them not to have the rally.” 

Nor is Sisolak, as Trump falsely asserted in Minden, “in charge of the election, and millions of ballots.” 

Whether the governor is “a political hack” is a more subjective proposition.

The ballot stuff is the icky part, though. One of the staples of Trump’s campaign for reelection is undermining the integrity of the election, so he can claim it was “rigged” and stay in office forever or until Ivanka & Jared finally tire of him and get him committed to the home, whichever comes first. Each and every day Trump, his campaign, and its surrogates are trying to discredit democracy, which they despise as “mob rule.”

Nevada is only one of several states the Trump campaign has sued for perpretrating the terrifying and civilization-threatening act of trying to let people vote safely during a pandemic. Trump & Co. hope to cause as much chaos as possible so no one will believe the election results and Trump can declare himself President for Life, or until Ivanka & Jared tire of him etc… 

(At this point in the proceedings you may find a clear and factual explanation of voting in Nevada a necessary and calming respite. You’re welcome.)

Trump also appears to be one of those unfortunate souls who is not happy unless he’s got an enemy, so Trump likes to make as many of them as he can. Sisowho? Eh, doesn’t matter. He’ll do.

But here’s a thing. Sisolak is not now and never will be the Democratic presidential nominee.

That’d be Joe Biden.

And Trump seems to be having a curiously hard time turning Biden into the boogeyman.

Trump’s line of attack on Biden, the smashing, devastating destruction of the former vice president’s conduct and character meticulously designed by the Trump brain trust to assure a crushing Trump victory, is twofold: First, Biden is old – “he’s shot,” as Trump put it in Minden – and doesn’t know what’s going on. And second, because he’s old, Biden will merely be a pawn of the “radical left.”

Let’s start with the second one. As is so very often the case with respect to things Republicans say, if only t’were true.

Here’s the ugly little truth about the U.S. left: Once a Democrat is in the White House, they get annoyingly polite, self-muzzle, and rally around the president. You can see a mini-version of that with the Nevada left and Sisolak now. A Biden presidency is a lot more likely to be controlled by Goldman Sachs than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

As for Trump trying to cast Biden as a dotard, there isn’t really much to say other than “Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.”

But whether it’s Biden himself or radical leftists, whoever is in charge of Biden’s campaign is demonstrating judgment and behavior that is orders of magnitude more reasonable, moderate, sane — and presidential — than what Trump is doing: Biden isn’t deliberately endangering lives by holding coronavirus superspreader events.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.