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Explaining Trump’s Campaign

July 17th, 2020 by dk

Explaining President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign is becoming difficult. The best pundits in the business are at a loss to account for actions both large and small. Why stage a risky public rally in Oklahoma, a state where Trump’s November victory is not in doubt?

Why was Lafayette Square violently cleared so Trump and “a Bible” could pose for the most awkward photo op in the history of this or any White House? And why would his daughter Ivanka post a silly commercial endorsement of Goya beans, clearly violating federal ethics law?

The Trump family seems to be flouting rules, simply to show that they can. In what world does it make sense for the president’s daughter to pose like Vanna White with a can of beans and say, “If it’s Goya, it has to be good!”?

Trump’s monologues have become increasingly incoherent. He cannot complete a thought about the coronavirus or international trade or infrastructure or immigration or public protests. He pings between topics like a racquetball match inside a closet. But on the topic of the media, he has remained suspiciously lucid.

The Washington Post and others must have believed that cataloguing Trump’s misrepresentations would somehow shame him into rectitude. Twenty thousand lies later, Trump has made it part of his brand. “Fake news” has become his favorite battle cry, which may say less about his cry and more about his battle.

I believe Trump is campaigning for the job he wants, not for the job he has. He never wanted to be president. Almost four years later, he’s still the dog who caught the mail truck. He can’t get the taste of bumper out of his mouth.

No, what he always wanted from the start was to be a media mogul. He bought beauty pageants so he could be a star who chose other stars. His “Apprentice” franchise was built on the same premise. His presidential cabinet meetings are no different. His preferred shtick is to pick the winners, beginning with himself.

When Roger Ailes was forced out at FOX News exactly four years ago this week, Trump had a solid Plan A for what he would do after losing in November to Hillary Clinton. He would take his aggrieved voters with him onto a new network for victimized white people, finding full-time fault with every action taken by Hillary’s White House.

Unfortunately for Trump, Wisconsin voters had a different plan in 2016. Now he can’t wait until 2024. One America News Network is growing into the conspiracy-loving niche Trump was saving for himself. Trump seems more determined to lose this time around.

But he has to lose in the right way. It has to be suspicious, scandalous, unfair. There has to be an “untold truth” the Trump Network can tell. His devoted followers — his political base — barely rises above 30 percent. That’s not enough to win an election, but it’s a healthy market share on cable TV.

For all we know, Goya beans may be lined up as one of the network’s first program sponsors. Unbelievable, yes. But what isn’t these days?


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at

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