Trump blasted Ryan during a Florida rally Wednesday — just the latest in a series of attacks aimed at the House speaker in recent days — accusing the Wisconsin Republican and other GOP leaders of turning their backs on him because “there’s a whole sinister deal going on.”
But just hours before on a conference call among several dozen Trump Hill surrogates and Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, several lawmakers argued that criticizing Ryan isn’t productive, according to a source on the call who is close to the campaign.
.. the focus needs to be on why Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are different; not fighting between Donald Trump and Paul Ryan,’” the source recalled. “The focus of our efforts need to be on the enemy, not self-inflicted fire.”
.. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), who voted for Ryan on the House floor earlier this year, tweeted that he’d withdraw support for the speaker over the recent spat with Trump.
.. Trump warned supporters “this is the last time you’ll ever have a chance to save our country,” going on to criticize Ryan and other party leaders for not reaching out after Sunday’s presidential debate.
.. Trump also took a shot at Ryan’s leadership position on the Bill O’Reilly show Tuesday night, implying that he might not be House speaker next year if the real estate tycoon wins the White House. But it was unclear exactly how Trump thought Ryan would be removed.
.. Many members, even if they don’t like the idea of abandoning the GOP nominee, understand the precarious position Trump continues to put Ryan in
But what interested me even more was his unusual attempt to pivot to optimism. His message wasn’t that brighter days are ahead because the American people are strong or the fundamentals of our nation are vibrant. Instead, our future hinges on his personal power. “I alone can fix it.”
Calculated buffoonery is a longstanding tactic for right-wing demagogues looking to alter national political calculations to their own advantage — masking as farce the tragedy they portend.
.. Berlusconi started out as a wealthy demagogue on the brink of bankruptcy, whose celebrity was — like Trump’s — rooted in both real estate and popular entertainment culture. Berlusconi presented himself as Italy’s strongman, speaking like a barman, selling demonstrably false promises of wealth and grandeur for all.
.. Presaging Trump, the Italian media mogul cast himself as the only viable savior of a struggling nation: the political outsider promising to sweep in and clean up from the vanquished left and restore the country to its lost international stature. “I am the Jesus Christ of politics. I sacrifice myself for everyone,”
.. just as Berlusconi promised Italians to make them as rich as he was, while in reality his companies were deeply in debt at the time he first ran,
.. reminiscent of Berlusconi’s history of misogyny. He once dismissed opponents as “too ugly to be taken seriously” and insulted a fellow European leader during a conversation with a newspaper editor, referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel as “an unf—able fat bitch.”
.. But, like Berlusconi, he responds to tough questions with scandalous insults so as to focus the conversation on those insults rather than on his platform.
.. Trump’s political path has been carved by a media culture that favors entertainment over news.
.. Berlusconi’s opponents fell into his PR trap in the same way in Italy, rushing to condemn his gaffes and his deliberately provocative statements calculated to rouse the far right. Like Berlusconi, Trump has already succeeded in making himself the center of the conversation.
.. Berlusconi appeared on my TV news show and proceeded to deny having ever supported the Iraqi war, going as far as to claim that he had tried — in vain — to dissuade President George W. Bush from undertaking the ill-fated venture. If necessary to avoid a potential pitfall, Berlusconi was willing to deny in the evening precisely what he had stated that same morning.
.. in an apparent effort to ingratiate himself to me, Berlusconi cited the fact that he had dated Arab women as “proof” that he did not actually believe Muslims to be inferiors.
.. Trump’s bullying of Univision’s Jorge Ramos also has a Berlusconi antecedent — Italy’s best journalists, such as Marco Travaglio, Michelle Santoro and Enzo Biagi, were either sued or fired from their jobs because they dared to challenge Berlusconi’s policies.
.. Trump, meanwhile, sued HBO’s Bill Maher for mocking the tycoon’s hairdo... Ultimately, it was the leaders of the European Union who forced him to resign, in exchange for rescuing Italy’s tanking economy during the debt crisis. Berlusconi stepped aside amid fears that the Italian economy, the third largest in Europe, was headed the same way as Greece.
A savior complex may have befallen some of them, but who was bold enough to voice it so plainly as Trump?
.. No resemblance has been stronger than Trump’s claim that he “alone” could rescue America from its misery. Hitler famously conjured the model of “the genius, the great man” who alone held the key to a country’s destiny. Calling democracy “a joke,” Hitler fiercely disdained what he called “weak majorities.” Progress and civilization could be achieved only through “the genius and energy of a great personality,”
.. Among the great personalities he included Frederick the Great of Prussia, Napoleon Bonaparte, Otto von Bismarck and, by implication, himself.
.. Trump’s analog is: “Trust me.” Leading up to his “I alone” moment at last week’s convention was a long string of assertions by Trump that we just have to trust him — trust him to solve problems and implement even implausibly ambitious programs like rounding up 11 million undocumented immigrants.
When challenged during the primaries for programs or plans on how he would carry out his extreme policy proposals, he habitually fell back on “trust me” or variations such as his “unbelievable ability” to “get things done.”
.. Citing one of his books, Trump explained his unique ability to sense terrorism coming when all others are blind: “I predicted terrorism because I can feel it. I can feel it like a good location.”
.. He accused Germany, Japan and South Korea of playing the United States “for suckers” on defense spending and asserted: “They should pay us, pay us substantially, and they will if I ask them. If somebody else asks them, they won’t.”
.. Deflecting calls for specifics with assertions of superior ability is a technique that Hitler used, too.
.. By shifting to the magical realism of God-given prescience, Hitler made it easier for people to discard skepticism, shelve their demands for actual solutions and excuse all of the coarseness they saw in the candidate. If this guy has the secret potion — he says he does! — I’m going with him.
.. he claimed not to know that his “America First” slogan was also used for an isolationist movement that flirted with Nazi-sympathizing in the 1930s and early 1940s. Although Trump may know nothing of Hitler’s techniques, his instincts are uncannily reminiscent of them.