Bob Franken




“Well, who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?” — Chico Marx, 1933, “Duck Soup”

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears.” — George Orwell, 1949, “1984”

“Just remember: What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” — President Donald Trump, 2018, Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention

Slow-forward three years to the present: Day by day, contribution by contribution, Trump has raised $82 million in the first six months of 2021, an extraordinary amount for an ex-president. That means that millions of Americans are willing to open their wallets and make the statement that they choose not to believe their eyes and ears that Jan. 6 ever happened, at least not the way they’re “seeing” and “reading” and remembering.
More basically, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, stating that the Joe Biden forces somehow stole Trump’s re-election from him.
They ignore all that reality. Their memories have been wiped clean. Why? Because Trump said so. And he raised $82 million in six months to show for it. And that, by the way, is just in reportable donations. There’s no telling how much “dark money” he has shoveled into his accounts where they can’t see it. Not that they need to.
Nor has their collective amnesia recalled the horror of the extremist mob that invaded the Capitol building on Jan. 6. The “big lie” of Trump’s election victory manifested itself in a riled up riot. But following his lead, Donald Trump’s Republican lemmings have turned those arrested for trashing the Capitol into “political prisoners.” And Ashli Bennett, the woman who was shot to death by a policeman, has become a martyr to the blind followers of the Trump cause. She had followed the mental buzz of some conspiracy theory and stormed the barricades that outnumbered law enforcement were trying to protect.

So what can Trump do with his post-presidency millions? Pretty much anything he wants. He can lavish primary cash on the campaigns of candidates who have pleased him, or, more importantly, against those who have displeased him. His travel expenses can be paid as he barnstorms the country. More importantly yet, it could be easily transferred to a presidential campaign if he actually decides to run, or if he doesn’t, to the campaign of a successor.
As a result, most of the candidate wannabes in the Republican Party, which includes nearly every politician in the party, are occupying some territory between trying to ingratiate him- or herself to Trump and everyone else in is base who he absolutely has under his spell. This includes everyone from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to the pillow guy, Mike Lindell. Lindell is at the forefront of the “Trump will be reinstated” movement, which is pure gimmickry. That’s a polite way of saying it’s a con.
The rest of the other serious hopefuls are biding their time, holding their breath to avoid antagonizing the manic-depressive Trumpster. Some are secretly hoping that he is tripped up by all the legal problems that could cause him grief.
Could he use his political contributions for legal expenses? Possibly. There are a number of lawyers out there willing to represent him — and get their share of billable hours in the process. Although, perchance Rudy Giuliani is not one of them. That’s conceivable because of the fact that Trump has a past of stiffing everyone who does business with him. Presumably that would include lawyers.
Over a lifetime, Trump has been telling lies, ignoring business expenses, breaking promises, stretching the truth, demagoguing issues, whatnot. He’s able to get away with it because of the blinding light that wipes away the sight and intellectual ability of millions of his followers. There is just one description for what he gets away with:

“Alternative facts.” — presidential counsellor Kellyanne Conway, January 2017, “Meet the Press”

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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