Just before President Donald Trump took the stage at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, West Virigina on Aug. 24, the loudspeakers began blaring a song by The Rolling Stones: “Sympathy for The Devil.”
As it followed The Beatles’ “Revolution,” and Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” I felt like I was being punked.
But everything about this administration feels like a bad Saturday Night Live sketch so I can’t say I was surprised.
On Aug. 29, in a press briefing Sarah Huckabee Sanders told us she was shocked that anyone thinks Trump has lied to us.
She called the prospect “ridiculous.”
She keeps using that term, but I’m sure it doesn’t mean what she thinks it means.
The president lies. He uses songs at his rallies the artists themselves have requested he not use.
But the lying and the cheating and the stealing pales in comparison to what happened to this country on Tuesday.
It is unprecedented in the history of our republic.
Just a little more than a year and a half after taking office, the president’s former personal attorney, national security advisor and campaign manager are all convicted felons.
Not even Richard Nixon stained the White House as thoroughly as Donald Trump.
The fabric of our nation continued to unravel and in Charleston on Aug. 24 when the Trump-faithful bought the line that it was all a “Witch Hunt.”
Scarier than that was Trump’s pandering to his audience.
Though he lived in a Manhattan penthouse and is worth, reportedly, billions, Trump decried the east-coast “Elites” and told his audience in Charleston they were richer, smarter and better educated than the “elites.” He was one of them.
He said he came down to West Virginia because he wanted to know if they wanted to know about “widgets, gidgets and gadgets,” – his term for education so West Virginia coal miners could advance out of the mines.
He said he was told “We want to dig coal.”
So, according to Trump, people want to remain in a work environment where Black Lung is an occupational hazard.
When he said it, the crowd of more than 10,000 people began cheering. They then booed the “Fake News” and screamed how much they loved Trump.
When asked if they were concerned about Paul Manafort being found guilty on eight charges – they said “No.”
When asked if they were concerned about Michael Cohen taking a plea deal, I was told nothing bothered them about Trump.
“They’re all crooks, but Trump is a man of conviction,” I was told.
I replied, “No.”
Manafort, Flynn and Cohen are men of conviction.
Trump hasn’t been charged yet.
Another supporter told me I’d better get used to Trump for eight years.
I replied, depending on the judge and the jury he might get more than that.
But after all of the sarcasm aside, I saw something in Charleston.
What I saw, I can’t adequately put into words.
But I will try.
I saw hope and despair.
I saw fear and loathing.
I watched a president weave a dystopian web of intrigue and fiction, swallowed by those who pray and want better for their children and still believe Trump can deliver it though everything indicates this president is floundering and headed for a disaster never before seen in our country.
The need for hope was palpable in that audience.
The need for relief is understandable.
The need for education has never more dramatically demonstrated than those who suffer thinking that as long as the suffering continues then everything will be okay.
Deception. Greed. Avarice. Insults and pandering – all of them came within the first two minutes of the president’s standard stock-in-trade stump speech.
We all know the highlights and the lowlights at this point. NFL – bad. GOP – Good. Democrats – open borders and crime. GOP – strong and safe.
Press- enemy of the people. Immigrants – dangerous, marauding and killing machines.
MS-13 is worse than Hitler.
Mueller – witch hunt.
Russia – No collusion.
It’s the speech that keeps on tearing the fabric of the nation into several parts while whipping up the base.
But the president seemed stunned by Cohen and Manafort and his speech was lackluster by his standards.
Good music couldn’t help out the poor speech, but at the end of the day it did seem as if “Sympathy for the Devil” was an apt description of the mood in the civic center.