Donald Trump treats pretty much everything as a PR problem. Why bother to actually, you know, govern? If there is bad news, he brands it as “fake news”, uses whataboutism, and attacks the source. If there is no good news, he just makes crap up and repeats it so much that at least some people believe it (typically his base).
For example, when video came out clearly showing 75-year-old pacifist protester Martin Gugino being violently pushed down by police, hard enough that he ended up in the ICU (police had claimed that Gugino “tripped and fell”), it was hard to call “fake news” — Gugino is white, was acting peaceably, has no police record. But that didn’t stop Trump, who tweeted “Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur.” And said what happened “Could be a set up?”
There is no evidence linking Gugino to Antifa. In fact, the tweet was based on an article from far-right-wing site OANN that was written by a reporter who also works for the propaganda outlet Sputnik News, which is owned by the Russian government. In other words, there is more evidence that Trump is a tool of Russian intelligence than Gugino is part of Antifa.
But is gets worse. Rule Number One in public relations is “Don’t Believe Your Own PR!“(or variously, don’t believe your own publicity / hype / press / bullshit / etc.). It is also enshrined in the (biblical-based) popular saying “Pride comes before the fall.” Recently there is plenty of evidence that Trump has fallen into this fatal trap.
The first sign was Trump’s purge or silencing of federal employees who are “not sufficiently loyal to President Trump.” (Don’t take my word for it, the White House actually announced this.) It doesn’t matter how vital or popular they are (like Anthony Fauci, who was silenced for making the fatal mistake of contradicting some of Trump’s lies). Trump is now completely surrounded by yes-men and sycophants, but does Trump actually believe them?
What got me thinking about this is Trump’s response to a recent negative poll. The CNN poll showed Joe Biden ahead of Trump by 14 points. Trump demanded that CNN retract the poll and apologize, and tweeted:
First of all, McLaughlin is such a terrible pollster that even most Republican politicians won’t use him anymore. For example, McLaughlin told his client (House majority leader) Eric Cantor he was winning by 34 points, just before Cantor lost by 11 points. That’s a whopping 45 point error. McLaughlin is infamous for telling his clients what they want to hear, rather than the truth.
Which is exactly what Trump wants. Because every recent legitimate poll shows Trump losing by five or more points.
In April, Trump actually threatened to sue his own campaign manager Brad Parscale because he gave Trump negative poll results. Trump yelled at Parscale “I’m not fucking losing to Joe Biden” and it looks like he believes it. I guess the “incredible enthusiasm we are receiving” proves it to him.
To get more of that “incredible enthusiasm”, Trump has scheduled his first mass rally in Tulsa, OK next week. Trump should be campaigning in swing states, not in Oklahoma, where he won by 36 points in 2016. From a political viewpoint, that rally is a complete waste of time and money, but it will make Trump feel better.
Not only does Trump believe his own PR, the sycophants surrounding him are explicitly pushing him to believe it. Starting in late May, the Trump campaign spent more than $400,000 to run pro-Trump ads in the Washington DC area on cable channels that Trump is known to watch (mainly Fox News). Because Trump has no chance of winning in DC or the surrounding states of Maryland or Virginia, these ads are also a complete waste of money. The ads are actually aimed at an audience of one.
Trump is now sealed off in his bubble (or bunker), entirely detached from reality. I just hope the country can survive until he’s gone.