Trump Delivers Bizarre, Incoherent, Red Meat Speech At CPAC

In a two-hour rant before an adoring crowd of CPAC sycophants. President Trump displayed everything wrong with him and his Presidency.

President Trump spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference yesterday, delivering one of the more bizarre speeches of his Presidency to an adoring crowd:

President Trump capped a tumultuous week by reveling in the embrace of conservative activists on Saturday, deriding investigations of him as ”bullshit,” repeatedly complaining about coverage of his crowd sizes and abruptly announcing an executive order to mandate protection of free speech on college campuses.

In his remarks at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which stretched beyond two hours, Trump also mocked the ”Green New Deal” promoted by liberals to address climate change, disparaged his former attorney general Jeff Sessions with a faux Southern accent and defended his move to declare a national emergency to secure money for his U.S.-Mexico border wall that was denied by Congress.

“You know, I don’t know, maybe you know. You know, I’m totally off script right?” Trump said at the outset of his speech. ”This is how I got elected, by being off script . . . and if we don’t go off script, our country is in big trouble, folks.”

But the Russia probe and those leading it drew the biggest ire and even profanity from the president, as investigations ramp up in Congress and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III continues his probe into potential collusion between Trump associates and Moscow.

“So now they go and morph into, let’s inspect every deal he’s ever done,” Trump complained. Nicknaming House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) as “Little Shifty Schiff,” Trump continued: “These people are sick. They’re sick.”

Noting that ”you put the wrong people in a couple of positions,” Trump added: ”And they leave people for a long time that shouldn’t be there and all of a sudden they are trying to take you out with bullshit, okay?” Trump said.

“Now Robert Mueller never received a vote and neither did the person who appointed him,” the president said, referring to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller in May 2017 after Sessions recused himself.

Trump’s speech zigzagging from trade to immigration and from the 2016 campaign to last fall’s midterm elections, came against the backdrop of the collapse of his summit with North Korea and the extraordinary congressional testimony this week from his former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.

Cohen alleged that Trump manipulated financial records and that the president knew in advance of WikiLeaks’ efforts to dump damaging information on his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

“>Trump mentioned his call during the 2016 campaign for Russia to hack into Clinton’s emails, although he has since suggested that he was being sarcastic at the time and criticized the news media for coverage of those remarks.

Few targets were spared in Trump’s wide-ranging speech, which included jabs at unnamed Republican senators — “Where do these people come from?” — his potential Democratic challengers in 2020 and a swipe at Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell.

“We have a gentleman who likes raising interest rates, a gentleman who likes quantitative tightening,” said Trump. “Can you imagine if we left interest rates where they were? If we didn’t do quantitative tightening, taking money out of the market?”

Trump has repeatedly slammed Powell for raising interest rates too quickly. Powell has said the rate hikes were necessary in light of economic evidence, but in January acknowledged the case for raising rates “has weakened” somewhat.

He also dismissed one prominent argument from Republicans on his recent decision to declare a national emergency to redirect federal funds for his border wall. While GOP lawmakers have argued that his move could set a precedent for future Democratic presidents, Trump argued that the answer to that is for him to be reelected instead.

“They’re gonna do that anyway, folks,” Trump said. “The best way to stop that is for us to win the election.”

Trump criticized his political opponents on Capitol Hill following a riff on immigrants, whom he said needed to “love our country.”

“We have people in Congress right now — we have people in Congress that hate our country,” Trump said. “And you know that, and we can name every one of them if you want. They hate our country.”

(…)

Trump also announced that he would sign a new executive order to make federal research funding for colleges and universities contingent on their support for “free speech.” The move appeared to be a response to complaints by some university critics that institutions of higher education stifle right-wing viewpoints.

“If they want our dollars, and we give it to them by the billions, they’ve got to allow people like Hayden and many great young people, and old people, to speak,” Trump said, bringing onstage a young conservative, Hayden Williams, who was physically attacked last month while lobbying for a conservative organization at the University of California at Berkeley.

More from Politico:

President Donald Trump delivered a scorched-earth speech to conservative activists on Saturday, calling the Russia investigation “bullshit,” adopting a southern accent to mock his former attorney general, and asserting that some members of Congress “hate our country.”

The rollicking two-hour-plus appearance at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland offered the president a brief respite from an otherwise miserable week in which his much-touted summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un ended in failure and his former personal lawyer delivered explosive testimony to Congress.

Trump, basking in the adoration of the crowd, largely glossed over the North Korea summit’s collapse, instead reviving several of his greatest hits, from rehashing the 2016 election to obsessing over the crowd size at his inauguration.

The speech amounted to a boatload of red meat for conservatives, with Trump promising he’ll protect them from undocumented immigrants, socialism and liberal Democrats he claims are dead set on bankrupting the country with proposals like the Green New Deal.

“You know I’m totally off script right now,” Trump said at the beginning of his speech. As his meandering remarks continued, it became clear that his assessment was an understatement.

At one point, Trump regaled the crowd with a story about a general he said was named “Raisin Caine” (it wasn’t immediately clear who he was referring to). He said he always sits with the pilots when airplanes are landing: “They know what we’re doing.” He boasted about his good eyesight and later added, “I don’t have white hair.” He derided a Hawaii senator as a “crazy person.” And he accused Hollywood of discriminating against conservatives.

He even revisited his campaign kickoff speech from June 2015. “From day one, I mentioned the word rape. If you look at that first speech, that was very innocent compared to what’s happening,” Trump said. Trump came under fire for his 2015 comments, which appeared to broadly assert that Mexicans were rapists.

Throughout, Trump again revealed himself to be a president deeply scorned by what he views as unfair media coverage and a lack of recognition from many in Washington. “I get no credit,” he said multiple times throughout the lengthy speech.

He also insisted that nobody had left the speech early, but journalists present reported that in fact, some attendees were seen departing before the close of his remarks.

Later, the president sounded off on the 2020 election, expressing regret that he attacked Sen. Elizabeth Warren so early. “I should have saved the Pocahontas thing for another year,” he said. “I’ve destroyed her political career and I won’t get a chance to run against her and I would have loved that.”

(…)

Trump clearly delighted in the passion of the conservative audience, pointing to onlookers and applauding as Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” blared on the speakers. At one point, the president wrapped his arms around an American flag on the stage, holding the hug for a moment as he mugged for the cameras.

“I’m in love, you’re in love and we’re all in love together,” the president declared.

Though Trump didn’t linger long on his North Korea summit, he suggested at the end of his remarks that he publicly took Kim at his word about Otto Warmbier’s death in order to salvage a possible denuclearization deal. Trump said he was in “such a horrible position because in one way I have to negotiate, and in another way I love Mr. and Mrs. Warmbier and I love Otto and it’s a very delicate balance.”

The president repeatedly took aim at Democrats in Congress. “We have people in Congress that hate our country,” he said. “You know that, we can name every one of them. They hate our country.” He then bashed the Green New Deal, jokingly encouraging liberals to keep pushing it because it would benefit him politically. “They should stay with that argument,” he said. “Never change.”

Trump revived his divisive immigration rhetoric. “They don’t like it when I say it, but we are being invaded,” he said. He disputed government statistics showing that undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born American citizens, calling the data false propaganda” and citing no evidence to support his claim.

The speech, which was originally supposed to start at 11:30 didn’t actually begin until nearly an hour before its scheduled start time, and it quickly became clear that Trump, who was not sticking to any prepared text or using a teleprompter, was reveling in the adulation that he was getting from the unquestioning CPAC mob that had gathered to watch him. Once speech went past its scheduled length of roughly 45-50 minutes, it was clear that the guy was on a roll and there was going to be no stopping him. By the time it was all over, the speech had lasted some two hours and even Fox News Channel, the only one of the three cable news networks that carried anything other than excerpts of the speech live, had stopped its live simulcast before the speech ended. It was, in other words, vintage Trump in a forum where he was sure to get not just cheers but mindless adulation at the conclusion of a conference that, based on the reports I’ve seen, has become little more than a Trumpidian fan club dominated by pro-Trump Republican officials and C-List pundits who make the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity seem talented and coherent by comparison.

A speech like this, and the crowd’s reaction to it, is also a reflection of what “conservatism” in general and CPAC specifically have turned into in the era of Donald Trump. While it used to be a somewhat sedate affair that featured Republican officeholders and leading conservatives such as Buckley, Reagan, Goldwater, CPAC has become a reflection of the pathetic joke that conservatism has become. Among those who spoke this year are people such as Charlie Kirk, founder of the pro-Trump PAC Turning Point USA, two African-American women who call themselves Diamond and Silk, Laura Ingraham. and Congressional leaders such as House “Freedom” Caucus members Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, both of whom made national news last week for their efforts to defend the President during the Michael Cohen hearing on Wednesday. While I didn’t attend the conference, something I haven’t done since 2012, and kept up with what was going on mostly through news reports and Twitter posts from people who were there, it’s clear that CPAC has turned into nothing less than a pro-Trump political rally in which dissenting opinion is not only unwelcome, but openly attacked, mocked, and derided. It is, as I have called it in the past, the closing of the conservative mind, and it’s yet another sign of just how far gone so-called conservatism and the GOP are at this point.

Given the week that he had, it’s not surprising that Trump chose to go off the way he did yesterday. Between the failure of the Hanoi summit, the reaction to his excuse making for Kim Jong Un in the death of Otto Warmbier, and the testimony of Michael Cohen, it was yet another bad week for the Trump Administration with all indications being that things are going to get much worse before they start to get better, if they ever do, delivering a red meat speech like this to an adoring crowd is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Trump since it follows what he’s done in the past. That being said, this speech was perhaps one of the worst displays of all of the President’s bad tendencies spread out over a two-hour rant before an adoring crowd. It hit time and again on the anti-immigrant, xenophobic themes that have framed Trump as a politician since he entered the Presidential race in 2015, and which he has returned to time and again during his time as President, starting with what was perhaps the most dreadful Inaugural Address in American history and continuing throughout the past two years at campaign rallies, press appearances, and, of course, on Twitter. We’ve heard this from Trump, and we’ll hear it again and again as long as he’s President. On some level, it’s gone beyond being shocking because it has become so commonplace, and that’s a problem in and of itself. We’re dangerously close to the point of normalizing Trump’s behavior, his illegal and unconstitutional actions, and the extent to which he has ignored political norms on a regular basis. If that happens, then I’m afraid there will be no turning back.

In any case, if you’re at all inclined, you can watch the full video of Trump’s speech below, or you can read the coverage that Daniel Dale, Washington correspondent for the Toronto Star, provided on Twitter. It’s a long thread, but highly entertaining.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. James Joyner says:

    Sadly, none of this surprises me. It’s what CPAC has devolved into over the last decade and it’s just Trump being Trump.

    A didn’t hear the speech but did get to experience the traffic jam associated with the security detail, as we had a previous engagement at National Harbor. We got stranded for at least 20 minutes as police blocked the outbound road.

  2. Kylopod says:

    My favorite part was when he made fun of white-haired politicians then added “I don’t have white hair.” As a general rule, it’s not advisable to include in a speech a claim that literally everyone will know is a lie.

  3. gVOR08 says:

    @Kylopod:

    a claim that literally everyone will know is a lie.

    I think you overrate the GOP base.

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  4. Cris Ericson says:

    The leaders of the Democratic party are a disgrace! The people are good, it’s the leaders who are like rats biting babies for food. From baby murdering to not securing our borders, the Democrat party leadership is doing
    endless wrong to the people of the United States of America. President Donald Trump, you have my vote i 2020, and I am a perennial independent candidate in Vermont for U.S. Congress.

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  5. Mikey says:

    @Kylopod:

    As a general rule, it’s not advisable to include in a speech a claim that literally everyone will know is a lie.

    This will not hurt him with his base. In fact, they love that he lies so brazenly and openly. They think it’s a manifestation of true power.

  6. Kylopod says:

    @Mikey:

    This will not hurt him with his base.

    Did I suggest it would?

  7. Teve says:

    disparaged his former attorney general Jeff Sessions with a faux Southern accent

    I have to admit, Trump humiliating his supporters, and his supporters being too dumb to realize this, amuses me.

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Cris Ericson:
    I do enjoy it when the culties drop by to remind us that they are dishonest, hysterical, incoherent clowns.

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  9. @James Joyner:

    It’s what CPAC has devolved into over the last decade

    While I have never attended, I have been paying attention to CPAC since at least at least the Dubya years and it has always struck me as a kind of Star Trek convention for the conservative entertainment complex with some pretensions to having a serious side (but more pretension than actual seriousness).

    In many ways I would argue that the party has become what CPAC has been for years: the party itself is just a manifestation of conservative entertainment. In other words, Trump didn’t show up and transform the party, rather the kind of nonsense that we have seen from CPAC for years helped produce Trump.

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  10. Kylopod says:

    @Cris Ericson:

    I am a perennial independent candidate in Vermont for U.S. Congress.

    And this is what you spend your time doing as a candidate–going to Internet forums with which you disagree and dropping short, content-free, badly punctuated trolling? What in God’s name do you think you’re accomplishing?

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  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    They are not conservatives. That term has no relevance now. Trumpies are racists and misogynists and fascists, they are not conservative. There’s no such thing as a ‘conservative’ cult of personality, the term conservative implies certain political beliefs and any such abstract belief system has been overwhelmed by the desire to toady and grovel for their cult leader.

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  12. Kylopod says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: There was a good blog post some years back comparing today’s conservative movement to fanboy culture.

    https://www.splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/conservatism-is-a-fandom

  13. @Michael Reynolds: The party is largely reactionary at the moment, wanting to MAGA us back to some great and glorious past.

    It does grow out a fundamentally conservative mindset: preservation of the power status quo.

  14. wr says:

    @Cris Ericson: ” am a perennial independent candidate in Vermont for U.S. Congress”

    You know, Cris, being a “perennial candidate” is really just another way of saying you are a loser who has been rejected by the voters of your state something like 14 times. Maybe it’s time to stop grifting and actually look for a legitimate kind of work…

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  15. @Michael Reynolds: @wr: I googled her and found her proposal to sell a cable reality show of weekly pardons by the governor (wherein the audience voted on who gets the pardon) to be, well, different.

  16. @Kylopod: Thanks for the link–the premise has merit.

  17. Stormy Dragon says:

    Conservative politics is being conducted on an almost entirely pre-symbolic level these days. So the speech doesn’t have to make rational or logical sense, it just has to make “emotional sense”. Which is also why debating them is also entirely useless. It’s basically like arguing with a parrot; it may have been trained to make noises that sound like words, but it has no idea what it’s actually saying.

  18. charon says:

    From the DDale thread:

    Trump, mocking the Green New Deal, acts out a husband peering up at the sky as he attempts to watch TV but can’t because it is not windy. He says, “Darling, is the wind blowing today? I’d like to watch television, darling.” There is raucous laughter and applause.

    The GOP is now locked into this sort of stupidity, going down this road, because they will not acknowledge any mistakes or change course. This being merely one example of GOP aggressive frivolity, denialism of serious matters.

    Young people aren’t about to tolerate this approach to serious future problems, so the GOP future is not bright. AGW, as example, keeps happening faster than the models predict, as the positive feedbacks keep being greater than anticipated and new positive feedbacks keep materializing.

    Then again, if you think disaster is good for religious eschatological motivations, you might not have much motivation to address problems.

  19. Stormy Dragon says:
  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I originally posted that I suspect this particular individual is a a paid troll and not an actual person. But it seems she might actually be a real person. Some kind of Vermont fringe figure. Hmmm. I’m obviously not as good at picking them out as I thought.

  21. @Stormy Dragon:

    It’s basically like arguing with a parrot

    I will certainly say that talking to some who are deeply embedded in the conservative entertainment complex, that is exactly what it is like.

  22. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: Googling the name, there does indeed seem to be a perennial candidate in Vermont named Cris Ericson, who has run as a Democrat as well as independent in previous elections. Her main issue is reportedly marijuana legalization.

  23. Paine says:

    I doubt Trump could pick Otto Warmbier’s parents out of a crowd if he had too. Could probably put the two of them in a room alone and he’d still find it a challenge.

    It’s amazing what passes as humor for these folks. Some of his jokes were just so lame yet the crowd eats it up.

    Trump and that flag should get a room. Ugghh…

  24. BTW: the fact that Trump keeps doing that flag-hugging bit, and more importantly that audience fall for it, is just bizarre.

    I thought hard-core patriots respected the physical flag and objected to being used in such a manner.

    Worse: Trump does it not because he is compelled to demonstrate physical affection for the object. No, he does it because it gets a positive crowd reaction. (Which is true of a lot of what he does).

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  25. Teve says:

    The GOP is now locked into this sort of stupidity, going down this road, because they will not acknowledge any mistakes or change course. This being merely one example of GOP aggressive frivolity, denialism of serious matters.

    Young people aren’t about to tolerate this approach to serious future problems, so the GOP future is not bright.

    Trump and the GOP are giving young people a really clear picture of how aggressively stupid and horrible they are, and young people are noticing.

  26. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Seconding something Dr. Taylor said above, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, conservatism is about protecting the wealth and power of the currently wealthy and powerful. We have a Party that calls itself “conservative” supported by voters who call themselves “conservative”. As a practical matter, I think we have to accept their behavior as the current, U. S., definition of “conservative”.

    Not something I follow, but it appears the Psych people have settled for a working definition, although it’s a bit circular. They like to study the psychological basis for conservatism. But they struggled with a definition of “conservative”. They couldn’t find conservative behaviors and beliefs that were constant over time and space. A conservative Russian in 1917 supported the Czar. A conservative Russian in 1990 supported the Communist Party. As I understand it, Psych people have settled on accepting that someone with a conservative personality is a conservative.

    We know there are psychological factors correlated with conservatism, mostly fear and heightened disgust reactions, and as discussed a few days ago, lack of a sense of humor. There also seem to be a few physical factors, larger amygdala, more sensitivity to bitter taste. I fear we have to accept that this is what a conservative is.

    And apropos the flag thing, my personal observation is that they have difficulty distinguishing symbols from the things they represent.

  27. charon says:

    @gVOR08:

    We know there are psychological factors correlated with conservatism, mostly fear and heightened disgust reactions, and as discussed a few days ago, lack of a sense of humor. There also seem to be a few physical factors, larger amygdala, more sensitivity to bitter taste. I fear we have to accept that this is what a conservative is.

    There is a very lengthy piece in the current Atlantic on this.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/03/the-yuck-factor/580465/

  28. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve:

    Trump and the GOP are giving young people a really clear picture of how aggressively stupid and horrible they are, and young people are noticing.

    I’ve said for a while that for people under thirty Barack Obama is their image of a black President, while Donald Trump is their image of an old white male president. If my fellow older white people set out to design a path to political oblivion, they couldn’t do better than electing Donald Trump.

  29. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: after two generations of basically New Deal politics, we got two generations of Southern Strategy/Reaganomics politics, and the optimistic part of me thinks that Trump is bringing that stupid era to a close, and we’ll be entering a new and better era.

  30. al Ameda says:

    Trump just trolled those enraptured bots for 2 hours. I didn’t know that he had the stamina to ramble and dissemble non stop for 120 minutes.

    Democrats should be mindful that until further notice, all polling aside, 45% approval notwithstanding … Trump is the favorite. I don’t know who will emerge as the real opposition to Trump, but .. until then

  31. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Cris Ericson:

    The leaders of the Democratic party are a disgrace! The people are good, it’s the leaders who are like rats biting babies for food. From baby murdering to not securing our borders, the Democrat party leadership is doing
    endless wrong to the people of the United States of America. President Donald Trump, you have my vote i 2020, and I am a perennial independent candidate in Vermont for U.S. Congress.

    Bravo! Awesome performance art!

    Sadly, suggesting that the perennial candidate for the US Marihuana Party is a Trump supporter… a bridge too far.

  32. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Teve:

    after two generations of basically New Deal politics, we got two generations of Southern Strategy/Reaganomics politics, and the optimistic part of me thinks that Trump is bringing that stupid era to a close, and we’ll be entering a new and better era.

    If you’re familiar with the Strauss–Howe generational theory, we’re in the middle of the crisis-phase of the cycle right now. The contradictions inherent in the post-WW2 social order have fatally weakened our social institutions, and various factions are in conflict to determine the basis for the new social order for the next cycle.

  33. Teve says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I’m not at all familiar with that, but I’m going to look into it now. Thanks.

  34. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    her proposal to sell a cable reality show of weekly pardons by the governor (wherein the audience voted on who gets the pardon) to be, well, different.

    My god. Why hasn’t Trump done this?

    I don’t think the audience would get to vote, since that’s not Trumpy. Take that part away, add a spinning wheel of ridiculous challenges, with Trump as the judge. Who are you to say that Paul Manafort’s popsicle stick sculpture of Donald Trump was not the best?

    He could wander through the competition area, pick someone he just doesn’t like, and say “you’re fired” and the guards could take them back to their cell right then. “You, there. You’re supposed to be celebrating America. What is this? An apple pie quesadilla? You’re fired.”

  35. An Interested Party says:

    Conservative politics is being conducted on an almost entirely pre-symbolic level these days. So the speech doesn’t have to make rational or logical sense, it just has to make “emotional sense”.

    Wait, we were recently told by a certain contrarian that those on the right vote on policy, not emotions (indeed, the latter is what partisan Democrats supposedly do)…you mean, that isn’t accurate? Who knew…

  36. Joe says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    BTW: the fact that Trump keeps doing that flag-hugging bit, and more importantly that audience fall for it, is just bizarre.

    This x 100. It’s like he’s trolling his audience and trolling patriotism and his audience loves it. I am no flag waiver, but I find this habit – and this picture in particular – to be disrespectful to beyond creepy and I would ceremonially burn every flag he touched just to clean the stench off of it.
    @Teve:

    Trump and the GOP are giving young people a really clear picture of how aggressively stupid and horrible they are, and young people are noticing.

    From your lips to God’s ears.

  37. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Trump does it not because he is compelled to demonstrate physical affection for the object. No, he does it because it gets a positive crowd reaction.

    You know those annoying movies What Women Want and What Men Want, where the premise is that someone magically gets the ability to hear what the opposite sex is thinking?

    Trump is What Conservatives Want — his rise and presidency have allowed the rest of the world to hear what ‘conservatives’ are really thinking, what they really believe, how they really feel. Those thoughts have been there all along; Trump didn’t cause or create them. It’s just that now they are public. Half of America is appalled.

  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: True enough, but the thought does reinforce the hopefulness of conservatives who are embarrassed by it all that “once we get rid of Trump, everything will be okay again.” It won’t be, of course, but they’ll think it is and that is what matters.

  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: And she’ll be supporting Trump in 2020. I thought you guys said smoking weed was harmless.

  40. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Having met and spoken with a perennial candidate some years back, my impression is that perennial candidates are weird.

  41. Jen says:

    Texas is the largest producer of wind power in the country. It’s a major industry there and has created around 24K jobs in Texas. I wonder how they feel about him making fun of this…

  42. the Q says:

    Any word on how many Jewish businesses the mob destroyed after the speech by their Fuhrer? Or how many books by liberals burned? None?…..just wait……