So, Donald Trump has finally released his first campaign ad, and it has some pretty interesting parts, showing not just how dishonest his campaign is (which is a given) nor just how divorced from reality is the entire Republican foreign policy debate (also a given, but maybe less so), but how the GOP has constructed an entire alternate reality in which they can’t help but live.
The interesting part isn’t that, when you Google his ad, the first few pages are media coverage of it, showing how much his campaign and the liberal media conspiracy feed off each other. Nor is it the nakedly racist xenophobia sounds like open mic night at the Bunkersville Patriots Lodge (though that matters). It isn’t even that the ad promises to shut off Muslim immigration until “we figure out what’s going on”, which might be the first time a campaign pleaded that we give it a few minutes to think, ok? It isn’t even that the swarms of Mexicans crossing the border are actually Morrocans.
(Speaking to NBC, his loathsome campaign manager Corey Lewandowski clarified: “No shit, it’s not the Mexican border but that’s what our country is going to look like. This was 1,000 percent on purpose.” It’s an interesting argument, really. This isn’t what our country looks like, but it is what it is going to look like unless we build something we don’t currently have. One could ask why it doesn’t look like it now, then, but that would be churl.)
The most revealing part comes when the narrator, who would make John Facenda ask him to cool it down a titch, says that Trump will cut the head of ISIS and destroy it. He does so over footage of missiles being launched from a ship, followed by an explosion caught from military cameras, either from a drone strike or some other kind of attack.
Now, the ad starts by showing how feckless President Obama and Hillary are, failing to say the magic words that will defeat terrorism. Here’s the rub, though: I am not a military hardware expert, but it seems that the blowing-up footage Trump used came from sometime in the last 7 years, and if it wasn’t targeted at “the head of ISIS”, it was toward people sympathetic.
Which means, of course, that Trump is using footage, from the Obama years, of our military attacking ISIS (or al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, or any of the other countries bombed by the US during this pusillanimous admin) to demonstrate how he, unlike Obama, will do the exact thing Obama is doing. With the exception of the late Lindsey Graham, every other candidate is saying the same thing.
This is more than just garden-variety hypocrisy. That’s normal. What I think this really shows, this time with pictures, is how completely divorced from the real world this field is. It isn’t that they are lying about Obama- the right has so completely internalized the narrative that he is weak and secretly supports ISIS, or at least hates America, that even when using footage from his wars, and promising to do the exact same thing, they can claim, straight-faced, that he isn’t doing anything.
The leading lights of the GOP, Trump notwithstanding, are young. They are completely steeped in Reagan-era bullshit, talk radio lunacy, and the internet echo chamber. They actually believe what they are saying (unlike, say Boehner, who was just very conservative, and not a true believer). This is more than just lies. Trump believes whatever he says just because he says it. The rest of them believe it because they can’t conceive of a different reality. I’ll leave it to you to decide which is more frightening.