Friday, September 2, 2016
BTRTN Reports Directly from Inside the Eye of Tropical Flip-Flop Donald
Yesterday, Tom received an urgent plea from one of our readers: “OMG! I need you to put my horror about this crazy man into cohesive words! Looking forward to your response to this day of ‘Mexico to Arizona’ absurdity.”
Spinning into action, Tom immediately dispatched Steve to fly into the eye of the campaign’s latest storm, where Steve personally witnessed major policy inversions, a dense flog advisory, dramatic fluctuations in temperament, seismic flip-flops in real time, and a resulting tropical depression throughout the Hispanic community.
Reporter’s notebook, August 31, 2016, 08:00. Time to pack. Note to self: when you get back – if you make it back – be sure to ask Tom why he gets to sit at anchor desk and be Wolf Blitzer, while I have to go out like some Don-Lemon-lemming donning that heavy weather gear and venturing toward the Outer Banks in the middle of hurricane season. Geez, he expects me to fly directly into the eye of the flip-flop, while it is happening… and report on it real time! Do I have my passport? Check. Virtual press credentials? Check. Trump Bloviation Dictionary? Check. Time to head over to the den and turn on the television. We are already picking up light precip...this could turn ugly fast.
Reporter’s notebook, August 31, 2016, 14:45. Landed adjacent to a flooded Trump Superlative Zone on Fox News. The Weather Channel has been on a High Flip-Flop Advisory Alert ever since Kellyanne Conway equivocated on the need for a “deportation force” and then steered a “Kinder and Gentler Donald” toward being “humane” on immigration. Suddenly gale forces winds appeared from the right and the alt right, and Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin were apoplectic that Trump was softening. Trump then told Anderson Cooper that he thought the softening was actually a hardening, as if reading the voice-over from a Cialis commercial. Monday the campaign announced the big trip to Mexico followed by the big policy speech in Phoenix. Nobody knew what to expect, but it smelled an awful lot like John Kerry on the Iraq war: “I was for it before I was against it.”
The winds are really kicking up now. Time to call in. Hope Tom is ready for my report.
“Tom? Tom? This is Steve! Steve! Can… you …HEAR …me??”
“Hello? Hello? Who is this?”
“It… is… STEVE. Your BROTHER, for chrissake… You sent me out to report live on the potential flip-flop in progress in the Trump Campaign…”
“Oh, STEVE!! Steve, is that you? We have a bad connection. I think it is your crappy Verizon serv-“
“It is NOT my crappy Verizon service, dammit. I am calling you from the center of a major potential campaign reversal a few isobars to the left of Brietbart.com…”
“Really? We gotta go live, Steve… you’re on the air. Have you come in contact with Tropical Flip-Flop Donald?”
“Well, Tom, it’s swirling all around me; in this weather, it’s hard to tell a true flip-flop from a policy modification. Here are the facts that we know at this time. Donald Trump #1 – Kinder and Gentler Donald – was spotted yesterday in Mexico City, looking calm, measured, and dare-I-say plausible as a Chief Executive of the United States. He appeared to be on track to scoring a major photo-op triumph … he looked sober, restrained, and statesmanlike. Frankly, it was a tour de not very forceful. One weatherman’s four-hour forecast predicted he’d stay ‘as temperate and boring as Al Gore, and without the global warming.’”
“And yet something happened, Steve? Something went wrong?”
“Yes, exactly, Tom. Let’s face it, there was one, and only one question that every single reporter east of the Baja wanted to ask, which was to find out whether Trump shoved an ice pick up the nostril of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto by telling him that Mexico was going to pay for the wall. And guess what? Trump ducked it.”
“That’s right, Tom. Mister Machismo negotiator Trump either chickened out or is changing his mind. He said ‘We did discuss the wall. We did not discuss who would pay for it. That’ll come at a later date. This was a very preliminary meeting.”
“So, Steve, are you reporting that you witnessed Tropical Flip-Flop Donald?”
“It's hard to tell right now, Tom, but this was certainly a startling downdraft. Some were reminded of Trump’s recent tendency toward 'softening' and his inability to consistently maintain an election. An election policy, that is. But people in Mexico City are surprised that Mr. Testosterone flew all the way to Mexico and then suddenly acted like this was not the time to talk about who should pay for the wall. Very surprising to hear that Trump was face-to-face with Nieto and did not bring up that crucial point. But we do not know at this time whether he has changed his mind on whether Mexico will pay for it, or simply did not want to mess up his shiny photo-op with the truth..."
“Steve, there are reports that Mexican President Nieto tweeted that the topic did in fact come up in the meeting, and that he told Trump in no uncertain terms that Mexico would not pay for the wall, period.”
“That is what Nieto tweeted on Twitter, Twom, that is twoo. Twump said they did not talk about who would pay for the wall, but President Nieto said that he told Trump straight out that Mexico was not paying for it.”
“Thank you, Steve. There you have it, folks… Kinder and Gentler Donald Trump clearly sending a signal that he is stepping back from the intense rhetoric about who will pay for the wall. Big news, reported to you almost live on BTRTN. We’ll come back to Steve after he catches up with the Trump campaign in Phoenix.”
Reporter’s notebook, August 31, 2016, 19:30. Reviewing my notes. Can’t believe it, but this “Kinder and Gentler Trump” really made a big impression today. Calm. Statesmanlike. And that whole business about dealing with who pays for the wall “later?” Genius! Sure is going to be interesting to see this calmer, low-key Donald bringing his new kinder and gentler message to Phoenix, Arizona! This is Sheriff Joe Arpaio country… he’s that nasty SOB who looks like Karl Malden after somebody stole his travelers checks. This is “build-the-wall” country. How is the new Kinder and Gentler Donald going to go down here? Better call in to Tom and start my reporting….
“Tom? Tom? Can you hear me – it’s Steve, reporting live on the rising barometric pressure here in the arena as I listen to the big Trump speech on immigration!”
“You’re on the air, Steve… what have you got?”
“Well, Tom, I am … it’s hard to … the climactic conditions have totally changed! I mean, geez, this is an entirely different Donald Trump onstage here in Phoenix than we just saw in Mexico City!! He is back to screaming about how illegal aliens are the worst people you can imagine, how they murder valedictorians and octogenarians -- with hammers no less. Dear God, it is as if the Trump we saw earlier today in Mexico City was washing down amphetamines with Red Bulls on the flight to Phoenix. The man is flailing his arms and screaming and suddenly all those people he liked so much a few hours ago are back to being rapists and drug kingpins!”
“Dear heaven! Sounds like a dangerous wind shift! Policy, Steve… any surprises?”
“Well, for starters, Kellyanne Conway must think that she is campaign manager for Jekyll and Hyde 2016. If this is 'kinder and gentler,' I don't want to see 'meaner and angrier.' Most everything in Donald Trump’s big immigration policy speech is back over to the extreme right. He started his list of policy items with the wall, and then reasserted that Mexico is going to pay for it! This is just hours after claiming he did not talk about this with President Nieto because that conversation should 'come later.' I am pretty sure that Nieto did not take that to mean 'as soon as I am safely back across the border foaming up my redneck crowds.'”
“Steve, are you saying you’ve witnessed a rare real-time flip-flop?”
“We’ve got it all here, Tom. Flip-flops, policy inversions, totally inaccurate data interpretation and forecasts. Trump went bonkers saying that his new policy would be to immediately focus deportation on the undocumented aliens who have committed violent crimes and traffic in drugs.”
“Well, that sounds like a good plan, doesn't it, Steve?”
“Uh, yes. That is why the Obama administration has made that exact approach its priority these past eight years.”
“So it is not a new policy. Hmmm. What else do you have on Trump’s kind-of-new immigration policy?”
“There’s some red meat, Tom. He enjoyed pronouncing ‘extreme vetting’ repeatedly, though we are not sure what that is. He will administer an 'ideological certification,' which would supposedly unveil all potential terrorists who want to enter our country, provided that they answer questions truthfully about whether they intend to commit violent crimes or implement Sharia law. Bottom line, Tom… the ten policy points were just straight hard-line, right wing dogma. There was nothing kinder or gentler here. There was nothing to appeal beyond his existing base. It was pretty much a litany of baiting and hating that will send Hispanics racing into Hillary’s arms.
“Tom, one last incredible thing. Perhaps most amazing of all, he tried desperately to duck the mass deportation issue. While he was extremely assertive about his intention to immediately deport the aliens who had committed crimes -- two million, he claimed, but don’t ask me where he got that number – he kept avoiding the far more complicated issue of what to do about undocumented aliens who have been living for years in the United States while adhering to the law.
“His intention to deport all 11 million undocumented aliens was a central component of his campaign in the primary season. Yet in Phoenix, at the very, very end of his speech, Trump said that he would deal with this question only well after all the other steps had been taken… only after the wall is built, the criminals are gone, after he has implemented his 'extreme vetting,' 'ideological certification,' and after other countries take illegal immigrants back.
“This, you’ll recall, Tom, is pretty much exactly the position Marco Rubio took during the primary season. Indeed, Rubio was accused of dodging the immigration issues because of his insistence that you could not address the issue of resident undocumented aliens 'until the border was sealed.' What Trump said on this topic was pretty much exactly what Rubio said, except back then, Trump crucified him for it."
“Steve, this is incredible… you are saying that Trump has taken the hardest possible line on every single point on the immigration question, except on the biggest single lingering issue of all – what to do about the vast majority of the undocumented aliens who are living a peaceful and law-abiding life in the United States?”
“Uh, yes, Tom.”
“So, Steve, are you actually saying that you HAVE witnessed a huge real time flip-flop?”
“Tom, I believe I witnessed three major flip-flops. The first was the 180 degree change in his entire personality in the span of hours – from a thoughtful and calm demeanor, respectful of Mexico and its people, to a wildly animated pit bull bent on ripping a nation and its people to shreds. Second was his flip-flop on whether it was appropriate to talk about who would pay for the wall. It indicated that he chickened out of confronting the president of Mexico but was perfectly willing to use it as red meat in a red state rally. Finally, pulling out Marco Rubio’s answer on deportation is about as fickle and two-faced as it gets.
"And that, Tom, is the way it is, on Wednesday, August 31, 2016.”
Reporter’s notebook, August 31, 2016, 23:15. Called an Uber for the long trip from my den back to the bedroom. Wondered if Donald Trump and the founder of Epipen were separated at birth. Hoped that our live reporting from the scene of the flip-flops addressed our reader’s question.
Hope Tom doesn’t make me fly into the eye of any more of Donald Trump's shit storms.