A solid summa of the many reasons to fear and loathe Hillary Clinton. Why he didn’t give this speech the day after Cruz and Kasich dropped out, I’ll never understand. If he had stuck to this message at his rallies and in his interviews over the last six weeks, there’d be no “Dump Trump” contingent at the convention and his fundraising may well have taken off. Nothing unites the right, after all, like a forceful argument against the left. Better late than never, though. If this really is the start of a new post-Lewandowski campaign for Trump, and if he keeps hammering this for the next three weeks, he’ll see little meaningful resistance in Cleveland.
It’ll take you 40 minutes to watch it but the transcript will cost you only five. The big themes are predictable — she’s a globalist and an interventionist with terrible judgment who’s used government to enrich herself and her cronies while working Americans struggled — but some of the individual lines are lightning strikes. Numero uno:
We will never be able to fix a rigged system by counting on the same people who rigged it in the first place.
Populists on both sides will nod along to that one. That’s one of six uses of the word “rigged,” in fact, in the span of about eight sentences towards the beginning. In case it’s the least bit unclear to Berniebros that he wants their votes, Trump also name-checked Sanders (a.k.a. “Crazy Bernie”) multiple times. Another keeper:
Hillary Clinton has perfected the politics of personal profit and theft.
So she has, and he supports that case at length. Team Trump’s angle on Hillary’s corruption is smart in that they’re not content here simply to argue that she’s crooked. What Trump tries to do in the speech is draw a contrast between Clinton’s fortunes, political and financial, increasing over the past 20 years while the working class’s fortunes declined over the same period. Quote: “[S]he has betrayed the American worker on trade at every single stage of her career.” The culprit, of course, is globalism, economic and military. Too much outsourcing, says Trump, and too many dumb, badly managed incursions into Middle Eastern politics. (He also claims that he was against the Iraq war from the very beginning, which isn’t true but Trump’s never going to let go of that useful lie.)
And the populist centerpiece:
Her campaign slogan is “I’m with her.” You know what my response to that is? I’m with you: the American people.
That might not be a winning message if Americans decide they don’t trust him with nuclear weapons but it’ll give Ohio and Pennsylvania something to think about. Two curiosities from the speech, though. One: It was surprisingly light on Clinton personal scandals. I didn’t expect Trump to make that a major theme but he did a good job sidelining Bill a few months ago by hammering him on the sexual assault allegations made against him in the past. His overarching point here is that the Clintons look after themselves no matter what it means for “the little guy” suffering. Bill harassing women and Hillary covering up for him fits right into that. Two: This is … not typical Trump rhetoric.
This is a decidedly new tone on Muslims from Trump –> pic.twitter.com/6gtdeZOgtA
— Ali Vitali (@alivitali) June 22, 2016
One of the reasons Trump’s temporary Muslim ban is popular on the right, I think, is because it flatters the suspicion that truly “peaceful” Muslims are much less common than the U.S. government would have you believe. The number of actual jihadis may be small but the number of deeply illiberal Muslims who recoil from pluralist western values isn’t. Trump seems to be drawing an Obama-esque distinction here between the tiny minority of extremists and everyone else — although he does say a few sentences later about his refugee policy, “I only want to admit people who share our values and love our people.” What percentage of peaceful Muslims does that include? Presumably not zero, in which case is he rethinking his ban?
By the way, BuzzFeed and several other media outlets formerly banned by Trump from his events were allowed into this one, probably because this is his most important speech to date and his team wanted the message carried far and wide. That’s another sign that the post-Lewandowski campaign will be different — assuming that there is a post-Lewandowski campaign. Corey himself showed up at a donor event last night that he was scheduled to attend before he got fired and made the case for Trump at length. Hope Hicks, Trump’s spokesman, and other Trump staffers were there. It may be that Lewandowski has been “fired” the same way Roger Stone was “fired,” i.e. he no longer works for Trump officially but he’s going to go on working unofficially, presumably with the promise of some reward down the line for his loyalty.