Monday, March 12, 2018
On the Road Again
It was not so much a political rally as it was a vaudeville act. Trump stumped for the sad-eyed Rick Saccone, who finds himself trailing his young challenger, Conor Lamb, in Western Pennsylvania. You heard very little about Saccone throughout Trump's rambling speech in Pittsburgh. It was mostly about himself and how badly he is treated in the media. He called Chuck Todd a son of a bitch, and Maxine Waters a "very low IQ individual." Every once in a while he came back to the theme of the special election, bragging that his recent tariffs would return steel to Pittsburgh and that he needed guys like Rick Saccone in Congress to push his message.
The only problem is that Saccone, who appeared to kiss Trump square on the lips when the President first came to Pittsburgh in January, probably regrets a second visit, as it isn't lifting him in the polls. Like so many of these special elections around the country, it is a referendum on Trump, and if history is precedent, sad-eyed Rick is in for a miserable Tuesday evening when the returns roll in.
Trump staged a similar rally for Roy Moore in Pensacola in the days leading up that Alabama Senate special election, only to see the Ten Commandments judge go down in ignominious defeat. Apparently, the President had been warned not to go to Alabama in support of the skirt chaser, so the Northwest Florida city near the Alabama border was the next best place. Just the same he couldn't carry Moore across the finish line. If he can't do that in the Heart of Dixie, where can he do it?
At least Saccone doesn't have a history of chasing after 14-year-olds, otherwise this election would have long been over. He seems to be holding his own mostly thanks to blue collar workers who still think the GOP represents their interests, even if steel isn't coming back to Pittsburgh. The city transitioned long ago and is now one of the leading high tech centers in the Midwest, just don't tell Trump that. He seems to think his presence alone is enough to resuscitate the steel industry.
Trump has become the Democrats best weapon, but this doesn't stop Trump from hitting the campaign trail. This Fall, he plans to be on the road most of the week in support of his charges, largely because he enjoys these rallies. He lets fly with anything in his head, usually forgetting who he is campaigning for, putting on a great show if nothing else. People turn out just to see if he might explode on stage in a fantastic moment of spontaneous self-combustion. The media loves it, parsing out each and every word of his rambling speeches for all to see.
Luther Strange, Roy Moore, Rick Saccone become incidental characters in these mostly one-man vaudeville performances, and when it is over are quickly forgotten. Trump seeks out a new foil to regal his audience. Probably the most honest thing he said in his recent Pittsburgh speech is "Remember how easy it is to be presidential? But you'd all be out of here right now. You'd be so bored." So, he plays his audience for laughs and they love it.
For Trump, the world is a reality show. He joked about North Korea. He joked about Maxine Waters. He joked about drug dealers. He joked about Chuck Todd. Conor Lamb's boyish good looks and charm didn't go unnoticed, as he declared himself better looking before dubbing the young candidate "Lamb the Sham."
None of it made any sense whatsoever, but the audience was eating it up like they would a Rodney Dangerfield performance from the 1980s. Only Trump isn't self-deprecating, he's self-destructive. It's pretty hard to overcome a president like this when you are desperately trying to reach out to moderate voters in these midterm elections.
Trump takes comfort in Rasmussen polls, which has his approval rating ten points higher than other polls, and Putin's latest compliments, as the wily Russian president butters him up for the kill. Even more amazing he accepts an offer from the North Korean tyrant to come to Pyongyang, seeming to forget that the person of strength is the one who declares the venue, not the one who is in a position of weakness. Why on earth would he want to go to Pyongyang anyway?
All the GOP can do is roll its eyes. They try to back up Rick Saccone in other ways, but he has shown himself to be a very weak candidate. The best you can say for him is that he isn't Roy Moore. The RNC had to send in troops just to get his campaign off the ground, as he was unable to mobilize the conservative base in Western Pennsylvania, falling woefully behind Conor Lamb in fundraising.
It all looks like too little too late for the woebegone conservative candidate from Pennsylvania District 18, soon to be written off the map. It really doesn't matter who wins or loses this race as in 6 month there will be new districts forged in Pennsylvania, better representing the political demographics. Republicans had hung onto this district for so long by gerrymandering it to favor their conservative voters in the Pittsburgh suburbs.
Sad-eyed Rick appears to be the last in line of a generation of conservatives who can no longer pretend that steel is the backbone of Western Pennsylvania. High tech jobs are, and who to better represent this than the young Conor Lamb, who is much better looking than Donald Trump. No contest.