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Trump promises, then renegs. His followers don’t even know they were lied to


Trump said he had denuclearized North Korea. He even had his cohorts set in motion talk about a Nobel Peace Prize.

We now know that North Korea hasn’t denuked, and if anything, they’ve stepped up their enrichment activities. Nor does it seem like they’re going to willingly let go of their nuclear capacity. “The North’s position on denuclearization remains unchanged,” write the great reporters at the New York Times.

But I guarantee you that if you ask a Trump supporter what are Trump’s greatest accomplishments, they’ll tell you that among them, he ended a Korean nuclear threat that previous presidents were unable to. Rightwing media outlets, like Breitbart and the Wall Street Journal, continue to praise Trump for denuking North Korea, while misinforming their readers about the truth: There is no denuclearization in North Korea. It was all just a bunch of P.R. baloney from Trump and spinmeisters like Huckabee Sanders and Conway.

Then there’s Syria. Trump made huge news a few weeks ago with his pledge to withdraw all U.S. forces. The Right celebrated: finally, an end to disastrous foreign wars! Mattis quit, but the Right never trusted him anyway. The word went out, from Hannity and Ingraham to the editorial pages of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal: Trump achieved the impossible! We’re no longer in Syria, and we’re about to get out of Afghanistan!

Not so soon. Suddenly and quietly, it turns out, Trump has decided not to withdraw troops from Syria. We’re staying after all! His premature announcement, possibly inspired by Adderall, a type of amphetamine Trump is said to take, was withdrawn, with Trump stooges like Pompeo and Bolton “clarifying” Trump’s remarks, while promising the troops aren’t going anywhere.

And then there’s the wall. “It will be beautiful,” he promised. “And Mexico will pay for it.” Democrats and thoughtful analysts told the American people two years ago that (a) there would never be a wall and (b) even if there was, Mexico would never pay for it. Most of the American people got that message. Not Trump’s base. And even today, when Trump’s promise has been so dreadfully and horribly proven wrong, the base continues to believe that the wall will somehow be built, and that Mexico will pay for it, “indirectly.”

Right. The wall will be built right after the Tooth Fairy comes for lunch with the Easter Bunny and a unicorn.

And the base? They don’t know that these promises were hokum. Do they even read the news? In trailer parks and at dive bars throughout rural, Red state America, the conversation is how great Trump is for bringing the boys home.

These are but three ridiculous “promises” Trump made to his base that have resulted in bupkes. Trump is a terrible president—we all know that. But there is one thing he’s good at: branding. When you can sell a brand, rather than a product, you’re in the driver’s seat. Of course, not all of the products under the Trump brand have worked out well for him: Trump University, Trump Steaks and the various Trump Casinos, for example, were spectacular failures. But the Trump name still seems to work when it’s plastered onto a hotel, especially in foreign countries.

Trump has figured out that the most powerful aspect of branding is to make promises in advance of fulfilling them. This is known as “selling the sizzle, not the steak.” If enough people believe in the sizzle, then when the actual entrée turns out to be, not steak, but horsemeat, few will notice, or even care. In politics, Trump knows very well that his most ardent supporters are ignorant rubes. They don’t bother to read or listen to the news, aside from propaganda outlets like Rush Limbaugh or the evil, discredited Tucker Carlson. As I stated, most of them have no idea that the North Korean overture is a failure, or that Trump reneged on Syria. They have some vague notion that the wall hasn’t worked out so well (it would be hard to be conscious these days without grokking that!), but they take refuge in the fantasy that it’s either the fault of Democrats, or that even if it hasn’t yet happened it will, and they firmly believe (because Trump tells them) that Mexico will pay for it, through mysterious clauses in a renegotiated NAFTA. We believe, in other words, what we want to believe.

Well, most of us have been saying for years that nothing Trump says is credible. It’s all a pack of lies. Yet the base buys this snake oil regardless of its lack of conformity with the Truth. I’m reminded of that movie, Village of the Damned—the one where the children are these zombie-like monsters who take over the adults’ minds and set about destroying society. That’s Trump’s base: monster-children, programmed only to seize power and destroy. In the movie, Christopher Reeve and Kirstie Alley battled the monster-children. In real life, I nominate Bob Mueller for the Christopher Reeve character, and Nancy Pelosi for the Kirstie Alley character. May Truth win!

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