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Alexandra Erin @alexandraerin
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So, this afternoon, around 3:00 Eastern, I'm going to start digging into Trump's campaign rally speech from Michigan. Go ahead and like/bookmark this tweet if you don't want to miss it.
...okay, I know this risks the news cycle utterly blowing up over something else, but I'm pushing back my Michigan speech coverage a day. It's that long and that bananas. I'm going to need more time to delve.
Okay, folks. I'm about ready to start digging into Trump's campaign rally speech from Saturday. You can read the transcript I'm working off here.…
Semi-regular reminder that for the time being, this is what I do for a living. It's not mentally pleasant or fun, but I'm good at it and there's a need and a demand for it. You can help keep this little enterprise going by throwing in what you can.…
My purpose here is not fact-checking (that's a specialized skill set and one that requires more resources than I have) but analyzing the content and context of what Trump says. What does it mean, why does it say it, what does his audience hear, etc.
The general trajectory of Trump's campaign rallies over time has been pretty brutal. Every time he does one it gives him another jolt of confidence and helps enforce his general suspicion that he's right about everything, always.

So he goes further next time.
Trump's character is such that he will always be chasing a higher high, pushing a more extreme boundary, scraping the bottom of a lower barrel, etc. Whatever he gets away with both affirms his egotism and disappoints his self-destructive impulses, so he goes harder next time.
Now, the other bit of a context before I dig into the text is that I'm using the Factbase automated transcript (which is a neat thing) because this time around, it doesn't seem like any major media outlet transcribed it.

In fact, they paid it very little attention, relatively.
If you search Google News for stories relating to Trump's campaign rally on Saturday, a lot of the stories that come up are also (or even mainly) about the correspondents' dinner that happened at the same time.
The same journalists and commentators who are choosing to focus on (and misconstrue) @michelleisawolf's jokes about how Sarah Huckabee Sanders does her job are saying that she (and the @WHCA in hiring her) handed Trump a "win"...
...but they're the ones who are setting the direction and tone of the discourse. The same abdication of responsibility she called out in her speech, the same favoritism to Trump, their current cash cow.
Anyway, diving into the speech.

All I have to say about the opening is: someone thought this was very clever. Going to Washington Township in Michigan. The whole event basically happened so he could throw that line out.
And the point of that line was to get the crowd and his followers at home to boo the @WHCA. While Michelle Wolf pointed out that @PressSec lies on @realDonaldTrump's behalf, he was directing his audience to boo the existence of the @WHCA.

But she's the threat to free speech?
Okay, so. Very typical of Trump to brag about his crowd size and to bluster about how much bigger a venue he could have sold out. ("The real number is probably much bigger," as he frequently says about numbers he himself provides.)
He complains about the venue, but carefully orchestrating the size of his event venues to create the appearance of being over capacity everywhere he goes is very important. He's fired a man for booking too large a venue, and Trump hates to fire anybody.
Now, he says, "You know the expression." We actually don't. "You're inside, so you made it." is not an expression. I had to go to the audio, because I thought the transcript was garbling something there.

It was.

"good, realistic" is actually

". Good real estate."
"You know the expression: you're inside, so you made it. Good real estate." He wants the people who made it inside to listen to him to feel good about it, proud, so that people will line up earlier for the next event.

So he compares it to a savvy investment.
This is something Trump does frequently: try to point to someone in the crowd without first making sure he knows where they are, or if they're actually there at all. A savvy speaker would just say "Bill, take a bow." rather than turning it into a gaffe. Trump's crowd doesn't care
Perhaps like his show of brushing dandruff off Macron's shoulders, Trump sees this as a power move. Having to thank other people for showing up is probably his least favorite part of these events; they should be thanking him.
Now, note: the "he got Melania" bit here is actually an interjection, Trump is actually saying "He shouted out Melania", as a person in the audience tried to guess who he was going to be thanking next.
Trump is a lot more gracious thanking Ronna McDaniel because she's a woman and thus not a threat, especially since she made a show of fealty to him by dropping her maiden name (she previosuly went by Ronna Romney McDaniel professionally) at his behest.
Notice that Trump is including her in the credit for his Great Accomplishment of winning Michigan. He wouldn't do that for a man, because men are *people* and can supplant or outshine him.
There's a pattern, pre-John Kelly, where the women who worked with Trump would brag frequently about their "walk-in" privileges, where they could just go into the Oval Office without ceremony or permission.
Trump let Kellyanne Conway and Ivanka do this because they're women. Women don't have real power in Trump's mind, so it's not a power move. If anything, it reflects his power that women come to him.
This is why Hope Hicks (a woman who was a peer of Ivanka's) was tapped to be his minder/handler, because he wouldn't tolerate a man sitting at his side and passing him notes and reminding him of things and trying to steer him.
And why Sarah Huckabee Sanders is doing a better job of staying in his good graces than Sean Spicer ever could have done... a man trying to speak for him? Explaining to the press what he meant to say? That's insulting.
(Sanders is currently being groomed as Hicks's replacement, for that reason.)

So of course he's playing power games with the men he's thanking, blaming them for the venue size, but he's perfectly gracious about the chairwoman.
He got so angry at the suggestion that Bannon or any other man had anything to do with his victory but here he's happily connecting McDaniel to his victory and drawing a line between that and all his accomplishments.

Women are property to him, and he's claiming her.
It's part of his ongoing humiliation of Mitt Romney, getting his niece to drop her maiden name and then claiming her as his pawn, his game piece.
The appointing judges is a big part of the reason the Senate GOP in particular puts up with him, but note that to him, it's just an accomplishment, another record he can claim.
"You have no idea how important it is." == Trump is barely getting a handle on it himself. What he knows is what everybody knows, remember.

Also note the implied carrot/stick about how "others" would be "better off" if they honored the flag.
The wording on "heroes of law enforcement" is very deliberate; he can't say he supports law enforcement broadly when he's openly at war with the DOJ and the FBI, so he says "heroes". Anyone he supports is a hero; anyone he doesn't, isn't.
It's the same type of game he plays when he says that ICE is going after dangerous violent criminals. If they detain someone, that's a dangerous violent criminal. Now. Because they were detained.
The "caravan" he's talking about, that he's been trying to make scary, is an annual event put on by Christian pilgrims and activists. The caravan is already at our borders and members of it are applying for immigration/asylum in accordance with our laws.…
He wants you to picture an armed band of raiders like something out of Mad Max, raping and pillaging their way across Central America and Mexico, to attack our borders.

The news media hasn't done a whole lot to shed light on the truth here.
Okay, putting a pin in this thread to deal with groceries. We'll resume around 3:00 eastern.
Tips are appreciated.
Okay, so I'm back. Groceries have been acquired and put away, lunch had. Let's get back to it.
Now, when Trump gives one of his own largely unscripted speeches, it's hard to pinpoint an exact moment when he's done with the preliminaries and into the meat, because it's so much stream of consciousness.
Here he was thanking Ronna McDaniel for helping with his victory which let him appoint the judges, which they need because oh boy the laws we have now are bad because immigrants, and now we're off, so to speak, to the races.
There's a lot going on here where he's talking about the supposed need for a wall. Even though his party is in power and his new line is that they've already made America great, he's still talking about how bad our laws are and it's all the Democrats' fault.
There's a very deliberate and dangerous choice he's making to not just laud his own chosen party as the party of the rule of law and law of order, but to tie the opposition party to "bad laws" and to lawlessness.
What passes for ethics for Trump in all things is what he can get away with. During the debates, when it was pointed out that he'd engaged in what he himself labeled as anti-American trade activities, he said, "You [the government] should have stopped me. Why didn't you stop me?"
Same thing when he talks about avoiding taxes, double-crossing business partners, and declaring bankruptcy to dissolve debt: "That makes me smart." If he *can* do something, if he can get away with it, then it's not wrong. That's his principle.
So I see real danger in Trump's escalation of tying the opposition party to criminality, just as I see real danger in his labeling journalists as "enemies of the people", because if it gets to the point where he actually can outlaw dissent one way or another?

He'll do it.
Whatever he can get away with that benefits him (even as ephemeral a benefit as stroking his ego by proving he can), he'll do it.
In addition to that, he's playing a game of pretending to toy with the people of San Diego and California in general about "will-I, won't-I?" with the wall. Because it's a power trip, and because he's honestly not sure what he can get away with, wall-wise.
He's got funds and a writ from Congress to do some work on repairing/maintaining/upgrading/extending the existing physical barriers and he's been trying to pass that off as funding for The Wall.
And while the short term optics of this are good for him, the long term effects are likely to be unimpressive, so he's hedging, trying to have it both ways, so whether he gets actual wall funding or not he can point to a thing he said and say "I did it."
The stream of consciousness continues. His leap here is he's talking about border funding in San Diego, which leads him to the budget bill that he's still mad and unsure about and which he passed largely because Mattis said it was essential for the military.
You can see he's both trying to pretend the budget was a giant victory for him but he slips up and reminds us that he's *still* asking Mattis to justify it to him, reassure him it was worth it.

Not that his audience will catch that, or care.
The theme of tying Democrats to criminal activity continues. What the auto transcript took down as applause here is actually even louder booing at the mention of Debbie Stabenow.

Trump actually says "You have a Senator in Michigan", not "in mission"... stop and think about that.
Now, it's obvious from the response that this crowd is aware who their senator is, but Trump phrases it, "Now, you have a Senator in Michigan, Senator Debbie Stabenow," as if he's telling these people something that is news to them.

Because it was news to him.
The "record numbers" for taking down MS-13 is inflated in the same way that our military and intelligence agencies have inflated the number of combatants killed in drone strikes: if our operation takes them down, they *must* be an enemy, right?
Trump really does not know what to do with or about the stock market, which has been trending up generally but is very responsive to his worse decisions.

"The country is doing better than the stock market." == "The real number is probably much higher."
This is a glimpse into how Trump views governance and diplomacy: it's about rulers and personalities. He doesn't care about the state department or ambassadors (that's mostly a spoil, an honor you give to your friends) because international relations are between rulers.
He's very pleased to be able to say the president of China, a man who is effectively president for life ("goals tbh", as the kids say dans la belle internet) and who rules an economic powerhouse he views as a rival, is his friend. Because bragging rights.
You know, I have no doubt that South Korean officials are taking pains to reassure Trump that he's important and deserves credit if only to keep him from doing something that upsets these processes that they have been working at so carefully for so long.
"Aranda" in the last screen shot was Iran deal, that's what he's talking about here, comparing it to his North Korea "deal", which doesn't actually exist. But notice he's trying to play the same kind of game here as with the wall, taking credit but saying it might not happen.
I have said before that Trump has not adjusted to the reality of the goldfish bowl he's in and still thinks that he can just say one thing to one group and another thing to another and give everyone what they need to hear to get what he wants.

I think he's starting to catch on.
And my basis for this is how much he's been pulling out some variation on "Maybe, maybe not. We'll see." as his answer to what's going to happen.

He's adapting by replacing empty promises with TV show promos: you won't want to miss what happens next!
Now this got a bit of coverage, Trump's attacks on Tester, who raised the objections to Ronny Jackson's VA appointment.

Note Trump threading the "everything is terrible/we made it great" needle here. We're taking care of our vets but we haven't yet because it's not good enough.
The deeper we get into Trump's term the more incoherent and strained this kind of talk is going to get, Trump bragging and taking credit for things that haven't actually happened and talking about how great we are while also blaming his enemies for how terrible everything is.
And if he had come out on day 1 talking like this at the level he is now, he might have lost a lot of his crowd, but they're staying with him through each time he ramps it up. They're acclimating to the compartmentalization necessary to go along with his doublethink.
I have my suspicion that it was actually Jackson's idea. Trump backed away from it so quickly and said it was up to him, which is not something Trump is prone to doing with his ideas (because they're all great).

And he also just talked about how many people want the job.
He's talking here about the lawyer who came to the Trump Tower meeting, who has recently acknowledged what was already long known: that she's an asset of the Russian government.
Now he's engaging in more doublethink here. He's claiming she's only admitting she's with the Russian government because Putin wants to hurt him, but wants his followers to ignore the fact that this means his family and campaign staff (if not him) met with a Russian agent.
He says Putin told the woman to *say* she's involved with the government, implying that she's not, but then why is she acting on Putin's orders?

Classic kettle logic: I didn't break your kettle because I didn't touch it, it was broken when I got it, and it's not even broken.
(The transcript-o-bot has a real problem with Comey's name. All the "combes" and "combing" and "coming" in here is him. Fake dues is obviously fake news.)

So, as I've said, I'm not a fact checker, but his characterization of the dossier's origins has been widely debunked.
It started off as *Republican* oppo research, at one point the Democrats had an interest in, and US intelligence, but Steele also worked on it pro bono because he saw Trump as that dangerous and the contents that important.
The fact that people in both parties, and our own intelligence agencies, and an independent analyst with a background in security and intelligence *all* found this dossier credible and important is one of the most damning things about it.
I've highlighted the obvious classic Trump projection here. These things that "nobody talks about" he knows about because he heard them on the news. Trump has a remarkable ability to even complain that the news is ignoring whatever he's watching on the news.
And he can do this because whatever he's getting, in whatever form, is not enough. If he's mad about something, EVERYTHING on the news should be about how bad it is, 24/7. Even if he's mad at multiple things.
(Neffs is NAFTA). Trump's talking about "love my farmers" might seem like more stream of consciousness. It's about how his trade "deals" and tariffs tend to hurt farmers, since a lot of what we export is stuff like feed grain and soy and other agricultural products.
He's not actually talking about what he's going to do to alleviate that, just asserting that he loves "his" farmers. This is the same way he says of his cruelest policies "we're going to do it in a very loving way".
Love, to Trump, is something you assert that you feel towards someone, in order to justify hurting them for your own benefit.

Just look at how many times he tells his followers he loves them.
So, there's a lot in here about how Trump sees business and global trade. The EU was formed to compete on an equal footing with larger countries. To Trump, taking away a competitive edge is the same as taking advantage of us.

But he doesn't blame them for being "smart".
This thing that has cropped up a few times now in this speech, where he's referring to people as patriots... he's talking specifically about people hurt by his trade policies, by his deals and tariffs. He wants us/them to view that as a sacrifice, like a soldier going to war.
If your children go hungry, if you lose your farm: "Thank you for your service."
I expect to see an increase in this type of rhetoric even as I expect to see an escalation of the Democrats = criminals rhetoric. He is starting to understand how bad his policies are for the country but he can't back down from them.
And in fact it is too his advantage to keep his followers disaffected and angry. He wouldn't have won if they were happy and secure. So rather than backing down from policies that hurt them, he primes them to take pride in it, and blame his enemies for the worst of their hurts.
I had to go to the tape to make sure the transcript really had the gist here - he really does interrupt his explanation of trade barriers and his policies, such as they are, in order to mention an award he won six years ago.

Not going to go through every wrinkle of what he says on trade but my basic position hasn't changed: he doesn't understand what trade *is*. Our "trade deficit" means we're a consumer nation on the global stage.

We're not losing.

We're rich.
You zoom in to the micro level and there's winners and losers all over the place but as a country, as an economy, the US doesn't "lose" on trade. Cheap parts, cheap imported goods, fuels industries over here and enable our consumerist lifestyles.
"Deficit" sounds bad and scary but you have a trade deficit with every store you shop at. I might spend $100 buying a week's groceries at Target but Target never comes to my house to buy anything. That's a trade deficit.
I had to listen to this paragraph to make sure that the transcription wasn't way off and... it's not. The punctuation's a bit all over the place, "Justin" instead of "just in", and "sue locks" is wrong ("Soo Locks" isn't), but these are mostly just the words out of his mouth.
So the Soo Locks are a set of locks in the sense of gates for letting boats pass between bodies of water, with local shipping implications. That makes that last bit the least nonsensical part of this paragraph.
Trump's tick of saying "I don't say me, I say we" is one of the last remaining vestiges of his habit (early in his rule) of basically reading his stage directions aloud, reminding the audience along with himself what he's supposed to say and not say.
I think he's kept that one because his handlers/coaches decided it plays well, having him call attention to how humble he is. It makes his followers who are already invested in a shared identity feel included.
If you go to The Donald page on reddit or similar forums and read the love-in/lovebomb threads, it's apparent that they have created an image of Trump as a benevolent father figure that just... it's pure fantasy.
"I used to hate Trump because I believed the lies but now I just can't believe how much he loves America. He loves us so much and wants what's best for us and he's giving up so much for all of us."
And it's less about anything he says or does and more about their willingness to suspend their own sense of identity for the sense of belonging to something larger, but "I don't say me, I say we", it resonates with them.
In his speech, Trump tries to distinguish between the guest workers that "our" farmers (they were his, now they're ours, because he doesn't say me, he says we) need and the Grrr Bad Criminal immigrants that probably belong to MS-13, but as we've seen, ICE does not distinguish.
The system of division and exploitation that the GOP wants to prop up requires never actually ridding the nation of immigrants but keeping them constantly in check, afraid, an underclass without rights or recourse.
If we don't fight back and get them out of power, we're going to end up with detention camps full of detained farm workers who are *still* put to work picking our food. Because the good guest workers and the bad gang members are just classifications of convenience to Trump.
More doublethink. We've spent trillions overseas with nothing to show for it but we've defeated ISIS. Our great military is the strongest in the world but it's tired.
His casual assurance to his crowd of MAGA heads in Michigan that they know David Friedman, ambassador to Israel, is maybe one of the most surreal examples of Donald Trump's assumption that what he knows is what is known.
Now, Trump told this same rambling story what amounts to a real estate deal for the US embassy in Jerusalem at his joint appearance with Merkel last week. He says nobody covered it. What he means is nobody talked about how great he is.

Here's the Post.…
I recommend reading the Post's summary of it because it also fact-checks it. For my part, I just want to point out that while Trump talks about keeping a campaign promise and while this whole deal is rooted in a lot of the ugliest and weirdest aspects of US politics... Trump, it's a real estate deal. It's about wheeling and dealing, calling in favors, saving money. And he doesn't tell it very well here compared to the previous telling, because his audience, they just want the high notes so he gives them the buzz word version.
But in both tellings, there's a tacit admission that the savings he's bragging about is temporary because the location being used for an immediate opening is temporary.
He comes very close to saying "Now we're not actually saving a billion dollars here." He's portraying it as clever to not spend a billion all at once but work up to it.
Now, you can see he mentions London towards the end. That's because he managed to run two different stories together. Donald Trump tells almost identical stories about him changing the embassy locations for Jerusalem and for London, and here he's mixed them up.
I think in his head he's trying to contrast the "bad deal" certain previous presidents made with the London embassy to his "good deal" with the Jerusalem one but it comes across that he doesn't know which is which.

Here's the London one.…
You can see the parallels. Similar price tags. A location in an existing building the US owns versus moving to a new location and building a new embassy. The same "deal" he's disparaging for London is what he has set up for Jerusalem down the road.
I use it sometimes to highlight their current relationship to power, but I don't think mainstream US politicians use the phrase "opposition party" very often. It's a little worrying.

Reminder: Trump says "believe me" when he's hyper aware that he's lying.
He does that because he operates under the assumption that he knows is what is known, so if he's sure he's saying something untrue, everyone else is. So he's got to include instructions: believe me.
This got some play. The transcriber didn't record that there was noisy booing at the suggestion that Hispanics might be present.
The phrase "in all fairness" is remarkably out of place here, even given that Trump by and large just says things. It's like he expects his audience to be holding something against Kanye merely for Kanye's existence so he has to preface himself to say something supportive of him.
Trump's got a difficult needle to thread in bragging about his results with ~*minorities*~ to a crowd that is actively hostile to them (and whose hostility he cultivates and exploits), and he does that by quickly pivoting to how well off he expects them in the crowd to be.
"I'm putting Those People to work, and this is going to make you people here rich like me." is what he wants the takeaway to be.
That's about halfway through the speech and I'm going to table this thread until tomorrow.

Here's a quick recap of the important themes so far.
First, an increasing willingness to label the Democrats as criminals and as the opposition party. Not just misguided and wrong for America, but against America. This is not new or original to Trump, but he's much more blunt about it, and increasingly so.
Second, Trump's view of international relations is how he views business: trade agreements are handshake deals between dueling personalities, diplomacy is all about real estate deals.
And just as he tries to claim full ownership of anything his name is on or he has the smallest stake in, he tries to take full credit for any advancement in international diplomacy.
Third, as Trump settles in to full conceptual ownership of the economy and the country's well-being, the amount of doublethink he must instruct his followers in just gets worse and more extreme.
These are all trends that are likely to increase as he becomes both more comfortable with the seat of power and more desperately concerned about his position in it.
Thank you for reading. If you got anything out of it, please help me out and give something back.…
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