Maybe we all just misheard him. Maybe it was his outer-borough accent. Maybe what candidate Donald Trump really said was:
We’re going to whine. We’re going to whine so much. We’re going to whine at trade, we’re going to whine at the border. We’re going to whine so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of whining, you’re going to come to me and go: “Please, please, we can’t whine anymore.” You’ve heard this one. You’ll say: “Please, Mr. President, we beg you, sir, we don’t want to whine anymore. It’s too much. It’s not fair to everybody else.” And I’m going to say: “I’m sorry, but we’re going to keep whining, whining, whining.”
It’s certainly plausible. After all the debate surrounding whether Trump is saying “bigly” or “big league,” the possibility that he really made a promise to whine so much we’d all get tired of it isn’t so far-fetched. If true, it certainly has to be counted among the campaign promises that President Trump has kept. Because while listening to Trump’s Arizona speech last night, I have to admit I was indeed tired of all the whining.
I must admit that I only tasted Trump’s whine. I did not guzzle it in full from the cardboard box. I made it through his speech up to the point where Trump hinted that Joe Arpaio would be pardoned, and then all the whining was giving me such a headache that I had to turn it off.
Trump, according to Trump, is the most put-upon president America has ever had. Everyone is mean to him, and nobody kisses his ass nearly as much as it deserves to be kissed. Because of this sad state of affairs, Trump must whine. And whine and whine and whine. He doesn’t even serve up cheese and crackers; it’s just all whine, all the time.
The biggest bunch of meanies that deserved some vintage presidential whine last night was, as always, the media. They have the effrontery to repeat back the words that come out of Trump’s mouth verbatim, after all. This includes all the things Trump says that he later deems inconvenient and therefore didn’t actually happen. Poor, poor, put-upon Trump!
Decades ago, the Republican Party used to sneer at Democrats’ reliance on the politics of being a victim. Minorities and other oppressed groups complained about their status, and this equated to “playing the victim card” or “victimology.” Staunch Republicans believed (so they told themselves) in the Horatio Alger nature of America ― that everyone can just pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and if you weren’t a success it was solely because you weren’t trying hard enough. But somewhere along the line, conservatives began adopting the victim stance as well. Conservatives complained that they were being shut out of academia, and their cries sounded a whole lot like demands for some sort of bygone quota system for hiring known conservatives at elite universities.
Trump is, of course, the ultimate practitioner of victimology. It’s not the people the cops are shooting, it is in fact the police who are the real victims. Any news story that doesn’t openly praise Trump is either unfair or flat-out fake news. Trump will shame all the CEOs into moving all their factories back to America, even while Trump-branded products are still being made in China. And, of course, the white man is the ultimate victim in today’s America, because the deck is stacked so severely against him.
Historically, populism has almost always had a large amount of victimhood contained within it. Over a century ago, when populism really began being a political force, it almost always had a large streak of anti-immigrant feeling. The immigrant groups were different back then, but the sentiment was exactly the same: “They’re taking our jobs!” That language never seems to change, in fact. Trump is following a path that was blazed long ago.
Today, of course, the immigrant group Trump is most against is Mexicans. His answer used to be to build a border wall and force Mexico to pay for it. But the standard: “Who is going to pay for the wall? MEXICO!!!” call-and-response line was noticeably absent from Trump’s speech last night. Instead, it was replaced with some whining about how Congress won’t fund Trump’s big, beautiful wall. Trump even threatened to throw a temper tantrum and shut the government down if Congress doesn’t fork over the money. This is an open admission that Trump was lying all along about Mexico paying for the wall, but his supporters don’t seem to care much. They keep right on lapping up the tasty, tasty whine emanating from Trump.
While Trump’s main whine was against journalists (as usual), it seemed more bitter than before. Perhaps this is just because I haven’t listened to even a portion of a Trump rally in so long, though. But Trump also saved several large helpings of whine for members of his own party.
Quite obviously, Trump was told by rational adults ― in no uncertain terms ― not to name Republican names in his speech. This is no stretch of the imagination since Trump all but admitted this during the speech, instead promising he’d be “presidential.” So Arizona’s GOP Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake were absent from the whine bottle’s label. But Trump proved he didn’t have to name them in order to crush a few sour grapes under his feet. Flake recently released a book which might as well have been titled: “Donald Trump Is A Festering Cancer On The Republican Party,” but it’s still pretty unusual to see a president essentially campaigning against members of his own political party.
It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out next month, when Congress ― fresh off their month-long vacation ― will be feverishly working to avoid several looming deadlines. Trump antagonizing fellow Republicans may not exactly be helpful in these upcoming legislative battles, to put it mildly.
Trump has the opportunity to score at least a few legislative wins in the budget battles. So far, he has missed virtually every opportunity for such wins, though. Trump’s never been all that interested in what actual bills say, contrary to his many promises that he knew exactly the right plan to solve all of America’s problems. Time after time, Trump just walks away instead of presenting his own plan. He promised he knew how to fix the healthcare system, and then didn’t even offer up a draft for Congress to work on. He promised he had the answer to Afghanistan and would unveil it within 30 days, and he just this week announced a policy that is pretty much the same policy we’ve been following ― over 200 days after he took office. So his track record isn’t exactly good for following through.
This is likely going to mean that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell will be driving the legislative efforts with little or no involvement from Trump or the White House. Ryan and McConnell have their own problems with getting their caucus to agree on just about anything, so this doesn’t exactly bode well for Trump chalking up big legislative wins next month either. Instead, Trump could be in for a marathon round of disappointment with Congress, once again.
This will give Trump a chance to whine even more. Losing budget battles in Congress will harvest a bumper crop of sour grapes for Trump to stomp upon for this year’s vintage, in other words. Let the annual whine-making begin! Because, as he promised, even when we have gotten tired of all the whining, Trump is just going to respond: “I’m sorry, but we’re going to keep whining, whining, whining.”
Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant