By Natalie Chen
Former President Trump leaves Trump Tower in New York for Manhattan Criminal Court, where he was booked and arraigned on charges stemming from a hush money payment to an adult film star during his 2016 campaign, Tuesday, April 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)
Serious question to anyone who watched Trump’s remarks following his historic indictment in New York:
You honestly understand any of that?
Maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention. After all, it had been a long, fraught day of ignoble firsts for America: first time a former president was indicted, and the first time the nation was treated to said president’s reaction to being indicted.
So by the time Trump began his primetime remarks, I was pretty fried, though also certain Trump would unload a double-barreled shotgun of ire against the Deep State, Justice Dept, Biden, boogeymen of all stripes (i.e. race), etc. that would launch untold millions in campaign contributions.
But haggard by the day’s drama or not, I know what I saw and heard. And Trump looked and sounded like a deflated guy mailing it in, which shocked me awake until I was again lulled to near slumber by his limp-wristed complaining.
The situation and setting were perfect for Trump to launch into his shameless — and formerly extremely effective — crybaby victim routine, followed by a fiery retort to the 34 felony criminal counts leveled against him. The moment called for Trump to go full, “2016 Midwest Mussolini on the campaign trail” against all of his enemies.
Instead, we heard a meandering and listless jumble of verbal ham salad that some cable news outlets eventually cut away from because Trump was all over the place and unusually boring.
Like really goddamn boring. Even his blatant lies lacked their usual pop. He went into his “stolen election” schtick like a long faded rockstar playing a Wisconsin butter festival, doing just enough from his hit list to score another, albeit ever-shrinking, paycheck.
Trump’s limp rehashing of every grievance we’ve already heard hundreds of times fell flat, even among the rabid ballroom horde of Trumpists willing to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for memberships to the most comically classless country club in Florida (which is saying a lot since, you know, it is Florida).
The guy had all the momentum in the world from the time he departed New York until he opened his dispassionate yap in Palm Beach just a few hours later in that gaudily appointed Mar-a-Lago ballroom which people with bad taste think is how people with money decorate their homes.
But I digress.
Trump could have capitalized on the fact that the talking heads were still trying to figure out if District Attorney Alvin Bragg has enough “there” there to convict a former president for campaign election financing violations over alleged porn star infidelity payments (no matter how many times I write these lines, it still makes me squeamish).
His remarks could have launched what will likely be an eight-month, nonstop anti-Alvin Brigg bitch-and-moan tour to keep replenishing Trump’s coffers with gullible supporter dollars.
But they seemingly didn’t. And I don’t know why Trump lacks his trademark and wholly unwarranted faux bravado that’s growing more cartoonish by the hour.
Maybe it’s because Trump finally, yes finally, realizes that the jig is up. Not that Bragg’s going to ultimately pin the former president’s pelt to the wall. I don’t know nearly enough about the charges in the indictment and lack the requisite legal expertise to weigh in on whether Bragg has a legitimate case against Trump, especially since we still haven’t seen the supporting evidence.
We’ll perhaps know and understand more in the coming days and weeks, once there’s been more time to reflect on what we witnessed and what’s to come.
When I reflected on the day of disheartening firsts before sitting down to write, I started thinking about all the countries I saw fall apart firsthand as a reporter after days like the one America just endured. And how nothing would likely please Trump more than watching the United States tear itself apart over him.
But then I recalled how some New Yorkers rallied against Trump outside the courthouse and shouted down Marjorie Taylor Greene so that she was forced to slink away, and the weak showing among Trump supporters, similarly drowned out by those who \despise him.
Perhaps the most inspiring part of the day’s events was when it became apparent by the traffic surrounding Trump’s motorcade that the majority of New Yorkers largely ignored Trump’s downtown clown show. They have far more important things to do than pay more attention to a guy they grew tired of decades ago.
There’s a lesson to be learned from their largely “we don’t have time for this nonsense” attitude toward Trump.
Because it’s clearly time we get this guy out of our lives once and for all, be it through the courts or by way of the next presidential election.
We all have far better things to do than spend any more time tracking and thinking about this now-indicted, hot mess of a former president.
Postindustrial founder Carmen Gentile has worked with some of the world’s leading publications and news outlets including The New York Times, USA Today, CBS News and others. His book, “Blindsided by the Taliban,” documents his life as a war reporter and the aftermath of his brush with death after being shot with a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan. Reach him at email@example.com.
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