The Intermission Is Over

CNN has done us a favor in a way: Trump remains the central issue of our time.

May 12, 2023
Reporters watch the CNN town hall with Trump in New Hampshire on May 10. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

The reason so many are freaking out about CNN’s astonishing ad for the Trump re-election campaign this week is that he was on tip-top form. Donald Trump is, as a performer, in a class of his own. From the second the show began, he was in command: withering, funny, sharp, powerful. He may be one of the most effective and pathological demagogues I’ve ever encountered: capable of lying with staggering sincerity, of making up stories with panache: shameless, and indefatigable.

Now think of Joe Biden, peace be upon him. He can barely get a sentence out without a mumble, a slur, or a confused expression. He seems frail and distant. In a direct contrast between the two old men, there will surely be some voters — and maybe many — who simply back the man who seems capable of doing the job vigorously for four more years. There hasn’t been this kind of contrast since Clinton-Dole (and Dole in 1996 was sharp AF) and Reagan-Mondale (it took Reagan’s debate genius to destroy the concern). Trump, in stark contrast, bulldozed the host Kaitlan Collins, who was far more in charge of facts and details than Biden will ever be.

Shamelessness has a huge appeal. It’s why we can’t see a production of Richard III without at some points egging on the child-murderer. And I confess that watching the deposition conducted by Robbie Kaplan, he got me. When Trump says to Kaplan, after dismissing Carroll as “not his type,” “You would not be my choice of mine either, to be honest with you. I hope you’re not insulted,” I LOLed. It was disgusting — but how could you not laugh at the effrontery?

At one point in the CNN show, Trump took the performance up a notch — sympathizing with E Jean Carroll’s husband:


Categories: Media

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