HUNTINGTON, W.V.—Every day brings new drama, but the Trump Show’s themes remain the same. He’s come to tell his people that everyone else is wrong and they are right.
“The change you voted for is happening every single day,” he proclaims, underscoring each syllable with a raised hand, as the crowd bursts into cheers. Behind him, two signs hang in the rafters of this small arena:
PROMISES MADE, reads one.
PROMISES KEPT, reads the other.
Washington is torn between paralysis and alarm. The Congress is at odds with itself and its president. The special counsel’s investigation gets hotter and hotter, and has just been taken to a grand jury. There is talk of a constitutional crisis.
Yet the Trump Show goes on.
The presidency in crisis! How can this possibly be sustained? Where will it end? What is going to happen? But the answer is right in front of us: It’s happening right now, on an endless loop. This is what’s going to happen, day in and day out—nonstop chaos, plot twists and cliffhangers, a furious, embattled president who finds new ways to shock while never seeming to change.
The show goes on. The ratings are terrific! Trump keeps campaigning for the election that happened nine months ago, determined to keep that feeling alive.
He lashes out at the Congress, including his own party’s failed health-care vote: “The Republicans and Democrats let us down on that.”
He laments the Russia investigation: “A total fabrication.” It is, he says, “just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics. It just makes them feel better when they have nothing else to talk about. What the prosecutors should be looking at is Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails.”
At that, the crowd erupts into a sustained roar, and the old, gleeful chants of “Lock her up!” can be heard.
The message to the faithful is clear enough: You are on the hook for this. An attack on me is an attack on you. To stop believing would be a betrayal.
“They’re trying to cheat you out of the leadership you want with a fake story that is demeaning to all of you,” he says. It’s us versus them, and them is everybody else.