Only One Can Be Trump

by Jonah Goldberg

In Trump’s rambling “press conference” last night, he tried to rebut claims that his bottled water business, his steak company, his magazine(s), and his other businesses were failures. It was all very entertaining for some folks. This morning the gang at Morning Joe thought it was either hilarious or brilliant or both. On Fox & Friends, Peter Johnson Jr. saw it as a kind of masterstroke because Americans want to share in Trump’s success. Or something.

There’s only one problem: It’s a total and complete lie.  Trump Steaks is defunct. The water he showed wasn’t “Trump Water” but the generic bottled crap that every hotel, conference center, and business park can buy and slap a label on. That wasn’t Trump Magazine. He didn’t even try to claim Trump Vodka was still a thing. Instead he pointed to Trump Wines – which he doesn’t own. And so on.

Not only is it a lie.  I have to assume everyone knows it’s a lie. 

Now, I’m no babe in the woods. I understand that politicians get away with lies all the time. They have their spin or their storyline and they stick to it. Journalists ask politicians about this or that, politicians give a response that is not, in fact, an answer, and then everyone moves on. But as far as I can tell, no one asked Trump about the fact that he was lying and everyone knows that he was lying. They just don’t care.

This happens all the time. The other week Trump released Christie from his Gimp-Kennel to spin for him. Christie declared that Trump is held to a “double standard.” He is — a much, much, much more generous one. He says idiotic things, nonsensical things, untrue things, non-responsive things every day, every hour. It is inconceivable that Cruz, Rubio or any of the other original 2016 candidates could get away with belching word fogs the way he does.

I’m convinced this is one reason why Rubio’s punching back at Trump seems to have backfired. I liked what Rubio did and thought it was wholly justifiable. But the problem is that voters have priced into Trump his deceitfulness and crudeness. They think that’s the authentic Trump – and they’re almost certainly right. When Rubio jumped into the gutter with Trump, he was changing roles and voters didn’t like it.

And that in itself is a perfect example of the double standard Trump benefits from. Trump knows little to nothing and he lies the way most of us breathe. But that’s him. And, bizarrely, many people like him (and many commentators have been seduced by his popularity). So he’s allowed to be Trump. No one else is allowed to be Trump-like because when we see Trumpism in others, we recognize its ugliness and vacuity for what it is. 

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