1976: when Ramses came to Paris for a mummy makeover


Then again, Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating Trump’s theft of government secrets and his involvement in the J6 insurrection, and Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis, who is investigating Trump’s interference in Georgia’s 2020 vote-count, might smell blood. It depends.

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It depends on the reaction to the criminal former president’s arraignment. He might be seen as strong if capable of mobilizing supporters the way he did before the J6 insurrection. But he might be seen as weak if he can’t.

Given what we saw, and we could not have missed it on account of television cameras being everything, Donald Trump is no longer capable. The people who did show up in support appeared to be his most dogged supporters, which is to say, people on the edges of respectable society.

The half-life of the Next Big Thing

A recurring theme yesterday, from the news reporters covering the event, was that they vastly outnumbered “protesters” for and against Trump.

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On the one hand, this can be interpreted as evidence of the press corps’ tendency to manufacture news. More storytellers than story characters results in the former maximizing the latter to make coverage worth it. One breathless reporter wrote that “the human mass” that “swelled, shifted and seized with tension, teetering at points toward violence” before adding that this tense violence-prone human mass totaled “hundreds of souls.”

On the other hand, this can be interpreted as evidence of something much different. It used to be that Trump drew big crowds. No matter what he said or did, he could be counted on to bring attention to himself and, hence, to the newspeople, which gave them incentive to cover him more. That’s what they were expecting. That’s why there were so many of them.

In a sense, we are witnessing the half-life of the Next Big Thing. It begins nuclear white. No one can get enough of it, even the haters. But time is the Next Big Thing’s next big enemy. Eventually, its radioactivity decays. Energies ebb. Attention wanders. Interest fades. The press corps can be trusted to manufacture the news. But it can also be trusted to chase after the Next Big Thing. Given what we saw yesterday, Donald Trump isn’t that.

This is not to say that Trump won’t get support. The rightwing media apparatus, though currently struggling to determine who to support, will almost certainly, in the end, get behind him. The rightwing media apparatus, like its rightwing media audience, tends to confuse bullying for strength. Trump can’t stop won’t stop bullying. Supporters will see that as “strength.” They’ll see “strength” all the way to the end of the GOP primary.

Congresspeople who have followed his star-trail will support him. George Santos, the fabulator from Long Island, showed up. So did Majorie Taylor Greene, the pathological smear-monger from Georgia. They can’t help it. They are drawn to spectacle. (They don’t govern). The more spectacular it is – the more chaotic and anarchical it is – the better it is for them. (Skittish Republicans will stand by him, too. For instance, US Senator Mitt Romney.)

To me, this begs the question: was Trump ever strong? One answer is yes. As president, he received the full faith and credit of the Republican Party. Republican senators twice prevented him from removal. A handful of House Republicans helped Trump plan and execute his failed coup d’etat.

But in retrospect, was that real strength? Or was it mere opportunism. Was Trump using the Republicans or were the Republicans using him? That question might never be answered. What we do know, however, is that the Republicans are not using him right now, and we are seeing the results.

They were once so brave!

That weakness appears to be accelerating. Supporters who had once been mobilized to sack and loot the United States Capitol are no longer as easily mobilized. Trump has called for mass protests, but more than 1,000 J6 insurrectionists have so far been prosecuted. When they’d believed there’d be no consequences, they were so brave! Then came the consequences.

NBC News’ Ben Collins reported Tuesday on researchers “keeping a close eye on the varied calls for everything from targeted attacks on the district attorney who brought the case to a new civil war.” So far, Collins tweeted, “there’s a lot of incendiary threats and people daring each other to commit lone wolf terror, but no big organized event on public forums like on Jan. 6.”

That suggests that Trump and supporters are in the same place – on the outside looking in. Trump will keep assailing the Manhattan district attorney. His sons posted photos of the judge’s daughter. (She had worked for some Democrats. They want us to believe that this is a conflict of interest. It isn’t, but that’s not the point. The point is intimidating the judge.) His loyal supporters will do the same. Lots of talk, little action.

(Such weakness can be dangerous, however. A reporter for a DC-area news station said Tuesday that a former Republican campaign staffer and “Catholic blogger,” who had once warned of “trans radicalization,” was charged with threatening to “put a bullet” in human rights activists in response to the Nashville massacre. The shooter was reportedly trans.)

Do the prosecutors smell blood?

As the late former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once said: “All I can say is if history has taught anything, it’s that weakness is provocative.

“It entices people into doing things they otherwise would not do.”

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