During the week his White House has been consumed with finding some way to excuse the apparent murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudis in their embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, Trump decided now was a good time to celebrate the only member of Congress who has been convicted of violently assaulting a journalist who was just doing his job, covering a political campaign (Gianforte was sentenced to a six-month suspended sentence, 20 hours of anger management counseling, 40 hours of community service, and was assessed $385 in court costs and fined $4,464.97).
But he didn’t stop there. Musing on Gianforte’s skills as a body-slammer Trump recalled that Vice President Joe Biden had “challenged me to a fight, and that was fine. And when I said he wouldn't last long, he'd be down faster than Greg would take him down. He'd be down so fast. Remember? Faster than Greg. I'd have to go very fast. I'd have to immediately connect."
Let’s take a moment and consider these fine words from the President of the United States. First, what Trump is praising Gianforte for is the wrestling equivalent of a sucker punch. Ben Jacobs, the reporter for the British newspaper The Guardian, was asking him a question about the Republican healthcare plan when Gianforte suddenly “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him,” according to Alicia Acuna, a Fox News reporter who witnessed the assault. “Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’” (You can listen to a tape of the incident here)
“At no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies,” the Fox News reporter recalled.
So what captured Trump’s attention wasn’t a story of a man defending himself, but rather a man violently attacking an unsuspecting victim who had a legitimate reason to be asking the candidate questions about issues in the campaign for the office he was aspiring to. An attack that got him arrested and convicted of assault.
With that, Trump was off into dream world. Everything he said there after was all in his imagination. He wasn’t telling his Montana audience what he did to Joe Biden. He was telling them his imaginary fight with Biden “wouldn’t last long” because “I’d have to go very fast. I’d have to immediately connect.”
He then says, "who talks like that?" and notes that Trump has never in his life been in such a fight. (He did punch his teacher in the 8th grade which sent him to military school, but that was it --- well, except for violently raping his first wife and all the other sexual assaults.)
Anyway, it reminded me that Trump talks like this all the time. He loves to pretend to be a big tough guy who levels anyone who looks at him sideways. I wrote about this a lot during the campaign.
On the stump last week-end, Donald Trump entertained his followers in the wake of the massacre in Oregon with colorful fantasies of him walking down the street, pulling a gun on a would-be assailant and taking him out right there on the sidewalk. He said, “I have a license to carry in New York, can you believe that? Somebody attacks me, they’re gonna be shocked,” at which point he mimes a quick draw:
As the crowd applauds and cheers, he goes on to say “somebody attacks me, oh they’re gonna be shocked. Can you imagine? Somebody says, oh there’s Trump, he’s easy pickins…” And then he pantomimes the quick draw again:
Everybody laughs. And then Trump talks about an old Charles Bronson vigilante movie and they all chanted the name “Death Wish” together.
Keep in mind that this sophomoric nonsense took place just two days after a disturbed man went into a classroom and shot 17 people.
He has long lived in a fantasy world in which he is a macho superhero. That seems to be a fantasy his followers bought into and believe in.
It's one thing for a loony millionaire to hype himself to the New York tabloids. But he parlayed this fantasy into the presidency, giving him and his followers reason to believe it must be true.
He's always been a BS artist first and foremost and bragging about his manhood (literally) is just a part of that. He's not really a brave person --- watch his obsequious performance in Helsinki or listen to that Omarosa firing tape and you'll see the real man.
But unfortunately, he's also narcissistic, arrogant and ignorant which means he could easily make a big, big mistake and cause a serious crisis. There are a dozen hot spots around the world that he's likely to misunderstand or where he'll overplay his hand. And it could easily happen because he emboldens a tyrant like MBS or Putin with his sophomoric tough talk.