Saturday, October 20, 2018


I wonder if Michael J. Knowles -- managing editor of alleged #NeverTrumper Ben Shapiro's Daily Wire -- hesitated for a moment before the "publish" button was pushed and his latest piece went live. If I were a right-winger and I'd written it, I'd ask myself, "Are the rubes really going to fall for this? With an audience like mine, I can get away with a lot, but this?"

Whether or not he hesitated, the piece is up, and it's jaw-dropping:
The Surprising Humility of Donald Trump
Really, he's serious:
No one is better at deprecating President Trump than President Trump—just ask him.
Knowles links to a story in which Trump literally says, “Nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do. It’s not even close.” Trump is an egomaniac about his lack of ego, and to Knowles, that's a sign of his humility.
And yet for all the boasting and braggadocio, the man who never saw a building he didn’t want to slap his name on has lately exposed a surprising humble streak. Earlier this month during the Kavanaugh confirmation circus, Trump answered a reporter’s question about alcohol by explaining, “I can honestly say I’ve never had a beer in my life. It’s one of my only good traits.” As the reporters laughed, he asked, “Can you imagine if I had, what a mess I’d be? I’d be the world’s worst.” The exchange revealed a frank self-assessment from the greatest self-promoter of his age.

Last week, in an Oval Office meeting following the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson from a Turkish prison, Brunson told Trump, “We would like to pray for you. We pray for you often as a family. My wife and I pray for you.” Trump responded, “Well, I need it probably more than anybody in this room. So I would—that would be very nice. Thank you.”
We know that Trump had an alcohol phobia drummed into him in his youth -- but it's also obvious (to anyone other than Knowles and his credulous readers) what Trump is doing here. Trump is saying he's bad, which is a baby step away from badass. Being bad is Trump's brand -- he's the guy who can get in a knife fight in an alley with other bad dudes (in business, and now in international relations) and come out a winner. You and I don't believe this, but Trump's fan base always has.

But no -- according to Knowles, it's Trump being genuinely humble. And the real braggart, of course, is Barack Obama:
These candid remarks and others speak to the surprising humility of President Trump, who may brag about his achievements but at least has never claimed the power to calm the seas and heal the planet.
Knowles's link is to a YouTube clip of the speech Obama gave when he'd clinched the nomination in 2008 -- and in fact, the actual words in the clip make exactly the opposite point about Obama.

I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations.
Yeah, what a boastful guy Obama is!
But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal....
Wingers have been misquoting this for so long that they have no idea what Obama actually said.

Knowles continues:
While Barack Obama described his campaign in messianic terms—“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!”, “Yes we can!” ...
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think "I" is the standard messiah word.
While Barack Obama described his campaign in messianic terms—“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!”, “Yes we can!”—President Trump puts it plainly as a value proposition. “Let’s say we have a really bad time in three weeks from now [in the midterm elections]. Your 401Ks are going to go down tremendously. People are going to lose wealth. If they don’t go out and vote then they have themselves to blame.”
Yeah, Trump never likes to oversell himself -- except for that time he told the UN, "In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country." Or the multiple times he gave his presidency an A-plus. Or the time he said he had better poll numbers than Abraham Lincoln. Or...

This is ridiculous. But they'll buy it.

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