That’s the new ad put out by Donald Trump, his first of the season, and it tells you a lot about the candidate, his campaign and his view of the American electorate. None if it’s very pretty. In fact, it’s unmitigated ugliness, without a drop of hope or optimism.
The themes are blunt: anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant, with Trump offering himself as the only man strong enough to do the things that need doing. Trump believes that the GOP base is scared, angry and resentful, and with this ad he makes it even more clear that he intends to feed those emotions, push those emotions, and ride them as far as they will take him.
He also believes that GOP voters are fools begging to be fooled. Hell, he might be right.
After all, only fools could believe that Trump will build an impregnable wall and make Mexico pay the hundreds of billions of dollars it would cost. Only fools could swallow the claim that he’s going to impose peace on the Middle East and in the process take their oil. These are the promises of a cartoon character, and when they first came flowing out of Trump’s sneering lips months ago they were dismissed by some as off-the-cuff exaggerations of the moment.
Their prominence in the ad tells you something different. He’s not ashamed or sheepish about it; he is willing to shout it to the heavens.
And to be honest, there’s a certain genius to it. Even if you don’t accept such claims as factual, they successfully communicate the idea that however far other candidates are willing to go, Trump is willing to go farther. “Going too far” is not a concept that he recognizes.
Take the stark video footage shown as the announcer talks about “a wall on our southern border that Mexico WILL pay for.” What appears to be a scene of scores of illegal immigrants assaulting the U.S. border is in fact footage from Morocco. And the reaction of the Trump campaign when called on it?
“No &#$& its not the Mexican border but thats what our country is going to look like if we don’t do anything.”
I continue to be amazed. In fact, let me dredge up a quote I saw over the holiday break that captures the GOP’s dilemma beautifully. It came from Mark Campbell, political director for the Ted Cruz campaign:
“The other thing we’re really watching with great fascination is how more and more of the establishment wing of the Republican Party is coming to our campaign as the alternative to Mr. Trump. We wish Donald Trump a happy New Year and hope he had a wonderful holiday season, but all of us believe very firmly that Ted Cruz will be the next President of the United States.”
Imagine that: Ted Cruz as the GOP establishment’s last, best hope.