Coming soon to Trump rallies: Statues?


Like, real statues? Or styrofoam statues with a little something plastered on to make them look vaguely like marble from a distance? Big difference cost-wise.

I can imagine Trump and his campaign advisors sitting around a table in the West Wing hashing this out.

“Okay, sir, so we’ve agreed on statues of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. Anyone else? Martin Luther King Jr.? Harriet Tubman?”
“What about Robert E. Lee?”
“That won’t work, sir.”
“Stonewall Jackson.”
“No. Sir—”
“Jefferson Davis.”
“Sir, really…”

I’m positive there won’t be any Confederate statues onstage. Ninety-nine percent certainty. Well, maybe like 85.

Sixty percent, rock bottom.

A potential new addition to President Trump’s future rallies: statues.

The idea has been discussed by White House and Trump campaign aides, but no final decision has been made, sources familiar with the planning told ABC News. It’s also not clear who exactly the statues would resemble, but sources say one idea was for “America’s Founding Fathers.”…

In an interview with RealClearPolitics on Tuesday, the president reiterated his thought that “we are in a culture war.”

“If the Republicans don’t toughen up and get smart and get strong and protect our heritage and protect our country,” Trump told the publication, “I think they’re going to have a very tough election.”

“The question now is, Is the statue sh*t going to work?” said a senior Trump advisor to the Daily Beast about the culture war mentioned by the president. If they’re commissioning statues, I guess they’ve decided that it’s going to work. If the point is to defend America’s Founders, there won’t be Confederates in the array. If the point is simply to own the libs…

It’d be fascinating to see how far they get with this strategy as a sustained attempt to deflect Democratic attacks about coronavirus, but the shelf life of the message may be limited. The wave of idol-smashing seems to have abated this week. Anti-racism protests aren’t happening in volume anymore either. Biden has refused to take the bait by siding with the droogs who have targeted statues of Jefferson and Lincoln. If all of that holds the next few weeks, will the political energy still be there for a statue-centric culture war come, say, August 1?

And if it is, will Trump complicate it in the interim by conflating his defense of the Founding Fathers with his defense of less savory symbols? Karl Rove went on Fox yesterday and congratulated him on a “remarkable speech” at Mt. Rushmore, then chastised him for taking the focus off of it by grumbling about Bubba Wallace and NASCAR’s decision to ban the Confederate flag at events. “The president has a limited number of days between now and the election. And when he tweets, it’s a powerful message,” said Rove. “And the question is, does that message continue to advance the narrative that he and those around him decided that he would lay out on [Friday] at Mount Rushmore? And the answer is no, it didn’t.” Wallace himself said this of Trump’s tweet: “When I first read it, I was like, ‘Man, there’s so much more things that are going on in the world that I feel like he should be worried about.’”

That’s the real risk of decking out his rallies with statues. It’s not that his impulse to defend the Founding Fathers is wrong. It’s that there’s no way to justify making it a top campaign priority when the country’s struggling with the virus and how to sustain a durable economic recovery. A stage full of statues under those circumstances would be an advertisement of unseriousness.

Speaking of Trump rallies, how well attended will the biggest rally of all be?

Mitt Romney also won’t be attending, no doubt because he doesn’t want to be booed out of the building. Grassley and Alexander (and Mitt to a lesser degree) have good excuses for not being there, namely that they’re old and at great risk if they end up being infected with coronavirus. Collins has a good excuse too, although it’s a political one: Since she’s in a dogfight to keep her seat in Maine, which is trending blue, it makes no sense for her to show up at Trump’s coronation in Jacksonville. My guess is that most of the Senate caucus will skip the event for one or both of those same reasons, whether because of age (e.g., Mitch McConnell) or political vulnerability (e.g., Cory Gardner). Even people who aren’t up for reelection this fall might find reasons to pass in the belief that the party’s Trump era is likely ending soon and so there’s no point in hugging him any more tightly.

The big exception: 2024 hopefuls. All of the GOPers who are hoping to inherit Trump’s populist coalition will be there to signal their loyalty and jockey for the most desirable speaking slots. Hawley, Cotton, and Cruz are givens. I wonder if Tucker Carlson will ask Trump if he can speak too.

Here’s the president yesterday saying the RNC remains “very flexible” on how things are handled in Jacksonville as COVID cases continue to rise in Florida. They’re going to do everything possible to have a big live cheering audience but the virus gets a vote too.





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