Donald Trump Is The Most Successful Insult Comic Since Don Rickles

He’ll Get Votes As Long As He Continues To Provide Cheap, Satisfying Entertainment


That’s why we think Trump’s low approval ratings are a lot of bunk.

Because there are an awful lot of people out there who absolutely do not approve of Trump and a lot of the things he’s doing and saying, but will vote for him anyway. They already did. Lots of Trump supporters we know did not approve of his demeaning the Gold Star family. They still voted for him. Even more did not approve of his “pussy grabbing” comments. They still don’t. They still voted for him. And would again.

Our Trump friends say things like “he’s just plain cruel” and “we can’t stand all this craziness every single damn day”. Sometimes they seem as exhausted and exasperated as we are. But they also still feel invigorated by the President and that more than makes up for it.

So if someone asks them if they approve of the President, they’d say “no”. Yet he’d still get their vote.

Why? Partly because while he’s demonstrably lied about all kinds of things, and broken promises time and time again, he’s kept his one biggest promise: to shake things up. (We’d argue he’s kicked up more dirt than actually shaken anything up, but that’s a subject for another column).

And perhaps more importantly: he’s a great entertainer, a terrific showman. Which is an utterly under-recognized key to his success. (The mainstream media seems to be just catching on, a little, almost 3 years after Trump declared he was running for President.)

He makes people feel better about themselves.

And Trump is keenly aware of it too. “Is there any more fun than a Trump rally?” the President asked an adoring crowd outside of Pittsburgh this weekend.

Even though the event was supposed to be a rally endorsing a Republican candidate for the House in a special election (see below for more on that), of course Trump made it almost all about Trump. Politico described it aptly as “Trump endorses himself”. Which was just fine with the crowd.

Watch Trump expertly riff here about what it means to be “Presidential” and why what he does is so much harder than that. “If I came like a stiff you guys wouldn’t be here tonight” Also listen for the audience member shouting out “you’re one of us!” (Click on the photo to play):


Trump’s “genius” lies in recognizing the power of the put-down. Which is why we compared him in the headline to the legendary comedian. It isn’t a fair comparison: Rickles was infinitely more clever. But Trump doesn’t need to be. All he needs to do is make the audience feel like they’re the “insiders”, not the Washington and Hollywood power brokers:

  • Representative Maxine Waters: “Very low IQ individual”.
  • NBC’s Chuck Todd: “Sleeping son of a bitch”.
  • Oprah: “I know her weakness…I know her weakness…[Running against me] would be painful for her.”
  • Martha Stewart: “Failed when she did ‘The Apprentice’ and I kept chugging along.”
  • And later, but along the same lines: The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman: “No nothing Hillary flunky.”

One big difference between Don Rickles and our President: Rickles always directed his insults at people who were right in front of him; right in their faces. Trump takes the cowardly way out: aiming at people who are literally miles away, and to most people in Trump’s audience in a different, elitist, universe.

That was key to Rickles’ act: the audience knowing deep down that he was not actually a cruel guy. Trump is cruel. And while it’s working for Trump anyway for now, if he “jumps the shark”, that’ll also be why.


The late, great Don Rickles



Tomorrow’s Special Election The “Real” Reason Trump Was In Pennsylvania


His rally was ostensibly to support the candidacy of Republican Rick Saccone in a special House election. Even though Trump won the district South of Pittsburgh by 20-points, and before him, Romney by 17-points, it’s neck-and-neck. Partly because Democrats, who didn’t even bother fielding a candidate a lot of times in this district, found a particularly strong candidate in Connor Lamb, a former Marine and federal prosecutor. One positive sign for the Democrat: fivethirtyeight points to a poll showing his prospective voters much more excited about voting for him than his Republican opponent.

However, that poll was taken prior to Trump’s visit. The Trump folks seem to be hedging their bets though: a story in Axios late Sunday night asserts that Trump privately trashed Saccone, referring to him as a “terrible, weak candidate”.

There’s a lot of money pouring into this race from both sides, especially considering whomever wins will have to run again this November. So the actual stakes are relatively small, and that’ll be the line you’ll hear a lot of Republicans using if they lose.


Rick Saccone (R) l, Connor Lamb (D) r



After Accusing Republican Senators Of Being Afraid Of The N.R.A., And Saying He Isn’t, Trump Completely Backs Away From The Part Of His Gun Proposal The N.R.A. Opposed

  1. Arm teachers. Check.
  2. Improve background checks. Check.
  3. Focus more on mental health. Check.
  4. Ban bump stocks. Check.
  5. Raise minimum purchase age for semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21. Nope.

That sums up White House recommendations released late Sunday to the shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people nearly a month ago. Isn’t it curious that the first 3 things on that list are things the N.R.A. approves of too, and the 4th thing isn’t?

And with that, the White House waters down Trump’s tough talk where he accused others of being afraid of the N.R.A. but not him. Just a few days ago, at a meeting with a bipartisan group of Senators, he said:

“Now, this is not a popular thing to say, in terms of the NRA. But I’m saying it anyway. I’m going to just have to say it. But you can’t buy — I mean, think of it. You can buy a handgun — you can’t buy one; you have to wait until you’re 21. But you can buy the kind of weapon used in the school shooting at 18.”

That sent the N.R.A.’s chief lobbyist rushing over to the Oval Office. Apparently he worked things out.

Now the state of Florida, long known for its loose policies, now has stricter gun laws than Trump is proposing at a federal level.

So don’t forget: the big “March for Our Lives” in Washington, led by the Parkland students is coming up on March 24th, with simultaneous events in many cities. Info. is here on timing and all the related events. This ain’t over, not by a longshot.

Meanwhile, Trump is also appointing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to head a special Commission on improving school safety.

Probably not the best timing for DeVos to give a characteristically inept 60 Minutes interview. Axios provides a clip:



Trump Increasingly Seems To Be Making Huge Decisions Impulsively, On His Own, Without Consultation

Case in point: the way Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was (or wasn’t) informed of Trump’s decision to open talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Now Tillerson said Trump’s decision was “not a surprise in any way”. Which of course means the abrupt announcement came as a total surprise to a Cabinet Secretary one would think the President would want to consult on a diplomatic initiative of this magnitude. Tillerson described the decision as one “the President took himself”, and admitted he did not talk about it with Trump until the following morning. “Very early”, he said with a smile. (We like Rex Tillerson)

Here’s a clip:


So maybe it doesn’t matter so much that a lot of Trump’s “best people” have left the White House, since he doesn’t seem to listen to most of them anyway.



Two Briefs:

•  Lawyer Emmet Flood, who advised Clinton during his impeachment proceedings is being considered for a position with the Trump legal team, that according to the New York Times. That elicited a series of angry, insulting Tweets from Trump about Maggie Haberman, who wrote the story (see above). The Washington Post’s Robert Costa Tweeted he might’ve been interviewing for Associate Attorney General instead.

The Democratic National Committee approved a plan to reduce the influence of the much-reviled “Superdelegates” in time for the next Presidential race, says the Washington Post. In 2016, there were about 700 of them, about 30% of all delegates. “Superdelegates” are Members of Congress and other party officials whose votes were not bound to any primary result. The idea was originally introduced to prevent an unelectable candidate from getting nominated. Some argue they had exactly the opposite effect.