Saturday, March 25, 2023


Maybe you were surprised to learn the location of Donald Trump's first 2024 campaign rally, which is scheduled for tonight. I wasn't.
Mr. Trump ... announced last week that he would hold the first rally of his 2024 presidential campaign on Saturday at the regional airport in Waco.

The date falls in the middle of the 30th anniversary of the weekslong standoff involving federal agents and followers of [David] Koresh that left 82 Branch Davidians and four agents dead at Mount Carmel, the group’s compound east of the city.
Joyce Vance states the obvious:
Over the past three decades, Waco has become a touchstone for far-right anti-government, Christian-nationalist white supremacists.... Going to Waco sends a clear message to anti-government groups.... Trump is willing to embrace far-right extremism, and everything it brings along with it, to restore himself to power.
Trump's specific plan -- probably devised by people more attuned to conversations on the right-wing fringe than Trump -- is to appeal to the marginal right, people who don't vote in every election but will vote for someone who seems comfortable with their fringe ideas. Trump sometimes sends signals to the QAnon crowd, even though -- unlike, say, Michael Flynn -- he doesn't actually appear to believe what QAnon believes. This outreach to anti-government extremists seems like more of the same. Trump is hunting where the low-propensity-to-vote far-right ducks are. (Turning out low-propensity voters seems to be how Trump beat his polling in 2016 and 2020.)

But whose idea was Waco? Vance reminds us:
Trump crony Roger Stone dedicated one of his books, The Clintons’ War on Women, to the Branch Davidians who died at Mount Carmel.
The Clintons' War on Women was published in 2015, a hatchet job intended to help defeat Hillary Clinton the following year. The book doesn't just include a dedication to the Waco dead. It blames Hillary Clinton for their deaths.

A couple of excerpts from the book:

A 2018 story in the Austin American-Statesman cited these passages and added this:
Asked to elaborate last week, Stone, who worked on Specter’s Senate campaigns and chaired his short-lived 1996 presidential campaign, said the comment from Specter came in a private conversation with him during the Waco hearings in 2000, “which I urged him to undertake to burnish his cred on the right going into a tough Pennsylvania GOP primary.”

Of Hillary Clinton’s presumed motive, Stone said, “HRC wanted Waco off the front pages so she could do Hillarycare.”
Joyce Vance quotes Mary Trump saying,
It’s clear to me that the decision to hold Donald’s next rally in Waco, TX, during the 30th anniversary of the FBI siege of the Branch Davidian compound is entirely intentional. I doubt it was Donald’s idea—more likely Stephen Miller or somebody of his ilk made the connection.
But Miller was seven years old at the time of the siege. I don't think it's one of his touchstones. (There are no immigrants for him to blame!)

So I blame Stone. Politically, Stone likes a bit of rough: In 1981, he ran the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Tom Kean, who won a very close race partly because an armed "Ballot Security Task Force" made up of off-duty police officers intimidated voters at Democratic precincts. Stone helped organize the "Brooks Brothers riot" that shut down the Miami-Dade recount in 2000. Before Election Day 2020, he famously said, “Fuck the voting, let’s get right to the violence” (even though no one can imagine Stone actually engaging in violence). The Proud Boy initiate would probably like Trump to do more outreach to the tough guys from the anti-government crowd. He likes a frisson of danger. So I say it was his idea.

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