Made Donald Trump Unstoppable
He's no ordinary con man. He's way above average
and the American political system is his easiest
By Matt Taibbi
February 25, 2016 "Information
" - The first thing you notice at Donald
Trump's rallies is the confidence. Amateur
psychologists have wishfully diagnosed him from afar
as insecure, but in person the notion seems absurd.
Donald Trump, insecure? We should all have such
At the Verizon Giganto-Center in Manchester the
night before the New Hampshire primary, Trump bounds
onstage to raucous applause and the booming riffs of
the Lennon-McCartney anthem "Revolution." The song
is, hilariously, a cautionary tale about the perils
of false prophets peddling mindless revolts, but
Trump floats in on its grooves like it means the
opposite. When you win as much as he does, who the
hell cares what anything means?
He steps to the lectern and does his Mussolini
routine, which he's perfected over the past months.
It's a nodding wave, a grin, a half-sneer, and a
little U.S. Open-style applause back in the
direction of the audience, his face the whole time a
mask of pure self-satisfaction.
"This is unbelievable, unbelievable!" he says,
staring out at a crowd of about 4,000 whooping New
Englanders with snow hats, fleece and beer guts.
There's a snowstorm outside and cars are flying off
the road, but it's a packed house.
He flashes a thumbs-up. "So everybody's talking
about the cover of Time magazine last week. They
have a picture of me from behind, I was extremely
careful with my hair ... "
He strokes his famous flying fuzz-mane. It looks
gorgeous, like it's been recently fed. The crowd
goes wild. Whoooo! Trump!
It's pure camp, a variety show. He singles out a
Trump impersonator in the crowd, tells him he hopes
the guy is making a lot of money. "Melania, would
you marry that guy?" he says. The future first lady
is a Slovenian model who, apart from Trump, was most
famous for a TV ad in which she engaged in a
Frankenstein-style body transfer with the Aflac
duck, voiced by Gilbert Gottfried.
She had one line in that ad. Tonight, it's two
"Ve love you, New Hampshire," she says, in a thick
vampire accent. "Ve, together, ve vill make America
As reactionary patriotic theater goes, this scene is
bizarre Melania Knauss didn't even arrive in
America until 1996, when she was all of 26 but the
crowd goes nuts anyway. Everything Trump does works
these days. He steps to the mic.
"She's beautiful, but she's more beautiful even on
the inside," he says, raising a finger to the
heavens. "And, boy, is she smart!"
Before the speech, the PA announcer had told us not
to "touch or harm" any protesters, but to instead
just surround them and chant, "Trump! Trump! Trump!"
until security can arrive (and presumably do the
touching and/or harming).
I'd seen this ritual several times, and the crowd
always loves it. At one event, a dead ringer for
John Oliver ripped off his shirt in the middle of a
Trump speech to reveal body paint that read "Eminent
Domain This!" on his thorax. The man shouted, "Trump
is a racist!" and was immediately set upon by Trump
supporters, who yelled "Trump! Trump! Trump!" at him
until security arrived and dragged him out the door
to cheers. The whole Trump run is like a Jerry
Springer episode, where even the losers seem in on
In Manchester, a protester barely even manages to
say a word before disappearing under a blanket of
angry boos: "Trump! Trump! Trump!" It's a scene
straight out of Freaks. In a Trump presidency, there
will be free tar and feathers provided at the
executive's every public address.
It's a few minutes after that when a woman in the
crowd shouts that Ted Cruz is a pussy. She will
later tell a journalist she supports Trump because
his balls are the size of "watermelons," while his
opponents' balls are more like "grapes" or
Trump's balls are unaware of this, but he
instinctively likes her comment and decides to go
into headline-making mode. "I never expect to hear
that from you again!" he says, grinning. "She said
he's a pussy. That's terrible." Then, theatrically,
he turns his back to the crowd. As the 500 or so
reporters in attendance scramble to instantly make
this the most important piece of news in the world
in less than a year Trump has succeeded in turning
the USA into a massive high school the candidate
What's he got to be insecure about? The American
electoral system is opening before him like a
In person, you can't miss it: The same way Sarah
Palin can see Russia from her house, Donald on the
stump can see his future. The pundits don't want to
admit it, but it's sitting there in plain view, 12
moves ahead, like a chess game already won:
President Donald Trump.
A thousand ridiculous accidents needed to happen in
the unlikeliest of sequences for it to be possible,
but absent a dramatic turn of events an early
primary catastrophe, Mike Bloomberg ego-crashing the
race, etc. this boorish, monosyllabic TV tyrant
with the attention span of an Xbox-playing
11-year-old really is set to lay waste to the most
impenetrable oligarchy the Western world ever
It turns out we let our electoral process devolve
into something so fake and dysfunctional that any
half-bright con man with the stones to try it could
walk right through the front door and tear it to
shreds on the first go.
And Trump is no half-bright con man, either. He's
way better than average.
It's been well-documented that Trump surged last
summer when he openly embraced the ugly race
politics that, according to the Beltway custom of
50-plus years, is supposed to stay at the
dog-whistle level. No doubt, that's been a huge
factor in his rise. But racism isn't the only ugly
thing he's dragged out into the open.
Trump is no intellectual. He's not bringing
Middlemarch to the toilet. If he had to jail with
Stephen Hawking for a year, he wouldn't learn a
thing about physics. Hawking would come out on Day
365 talking about models and football.
But, in an insane twist of fate, this bloated
billionaire scion has hobbies that have given him
insight into the presidential electoral process. He
likes women, which got him into beauty pageants. And
he likes being famous, which got him into reality
TV. He knows show business.
That put him in position to understand that the
presidential election campaign is really just a
badly acted, billion-dollar TV show whose production
costs ludicrously include the political
disenfranchisement of its audience. Trump is making
a mockery of the show, and the Wolf Blitzers and
Anderson Coopers of the world seem appalled. How
dare he demean the presidency with his antics?
But they've all got it backward. The presidency is
serious. The presidential electoral process,
however, is a sick joke, in which everyone loses
except the people behind the rope line. And every
time some pundit or party spokesman tries to deny
it, Trump picks up another vote.
The ninth Republican debate, in Greenville, South
Carolina, is classic Trump. He turns these things
into WWE contests, and since he has actual WWE
experience after starring in Wrestlemania in 2007,
he knows how to play these moments like a master.
Interestingly, a lot of Trump's political act seems
lifted from bully-wrestlers. A clear influence is
"Ravishing" Rick Rude, an Eighties champ whose
shtick was to insult the audience. He would tell
ticket holders they were "fat, ugly sweat hogs,"
before taking off his robe to show them "what a real
sexy man looks like."
Greenville, Donald "The Front-Runner" Trump started
off the debate by jumping on his favorite wrestling
foil, Prince Dinkley McBirthright, a.k.a. Jeb Bush.
Trump seems to genuinely despise Bush. He never
missed a chance to rip him for being a "low-energy,"
"stiff" and "dumb as a rock" weenie who lets his
Mexican wife push him around. But if you watch Trump
long enough, it starts to seem gratuitous.
basic argument is the same one every successful
authoritarian movement in recent Western history has
made: that the regular guy has been screwed by a
conspiracy of incestuous elites. The Bushes are half
that conspiratorial picture, fronts for a Republican
Party establishment and whose sum total of
accomplishments, dating back nearly 30 years, are
two failed presidencies, the sweeping loss of
manufacturing jobs, and a pair of pitiable Middle
Eastern military adventures the second one
achieving nothing but dead American kids and
picked on Jeb because Jeb is a symbol. The Bushes
are a dissolute monarchy, down to offering their
last genetic screw-up to the throne.