One of the highlights of my Father’s Day celebration was reading press coverage of President Trump’s colossal bust of a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
For future historians, that would be the rally of Saturday, June 20, 2020, in which Trump returned to the campaign trail after taking the last three months off because of the pandemic.
Future historians should also note that I read three accounts of that rally as I lay on my living room couch, listening to Stanley Turrentine booming over the stereo. Stan the Man will blast Trump away any day.
Not sure which was my favorite part of the coverage, with there being so much to choose from.
Was it the rows and rows of empty blue seats?
Or was it that Trump had to cancel plans to have a separate outside stage for the overflow crowd—as there was no crowd overflowing?
Or that Trump was steaming mad because of the low turnout?
Or that in desperation to spin away the embarrassment, Trump’s handlers blamed the low turnout on the “fake media” scaring people away with news about COVID-19 and counterprotesters? As though MAGA—as Trump calls his diehards—listen to CNN or read the New York Times.
Or that Trump and his aides had bragged of the millions who registered to attend the rally, only to learn that many of those who registered were teenage TikTokers and K-pop stans who had no intention of attending?
Or that one leader of the TikTok rebellion was Mary Jo Laupp, a 51-year-old Mayor Pete supporter from Fort Dodge, Iowa, who had this vision of the “19,000-seat auditorium barely filled . . . leaving Trump standing there alone on the stage”?
Way to go, Mary Jo!
Or that I’m so proud of myself for knowing that the word “stans” originates from “Stan,” a song by Eminem about an insanely obsessive fan?
A song that featured Elton John singing the chorus when Eminem performed at the Grammys in 2001. I’m still a little irritated at Sir Elton for lending credibility to Eminem when he was doing all that gay-bashing. Though, in retrospect, I really think it’s time I let that one go.
Back to that bust of a Trump rally . . .
About 6,200 people attended the rally, according to the Tulsa fire department, even though the arena can fit 19,000.
If this had been an election, the empty seats would have won in a landslide. Unless, of course, it was a presidential election. In which case, the filled seats would be declared the winner by the electoral college and get to fill Supreme Court vacancies.
Definitely not letting that one go anytime soon.
As much as I loved the TikTok and K-pop crowds for messing with Trump, I think their role in the low turnout is overstated.
I think MAGA didn’t show up ’cause they were afraid of catching COVID-19.
I realize that a central tenet of MAGA is that the pandemic is a hoax created by Democrats, China, and the mainstream media to turn the country against Trump.
But it’s hard to maintain that delusion when Trump’s asking you to sign a waiver absolving his campaign of any liability in the event you catch the disease while attending his rally—a waiver the Trump campaign asked Tulsa attendees to sign.
Apparently, there’s a list of things MAGA won’t do for their supreme leader—with dying of COVID-19 being high on that list.
Eventually, I got around to watching Trump’s speech. It was like watching a flabby, old rock star with a comb-over regurgitating his greatest hits.
He ripped the mainstream media, bragged about building a wall, called Joe Biden sleepy, denounced anarchists and radicals, made no mention of George Floyd, and went on a bizarre—even for Trump—15-minute explanation of why he’s not really a doddering old man. Even though he looks like one half the time.
As in the following discourse on COVID-19, which comes directly from the transcript:
“We’ve tested now 25 million people. It’s probably 20 million people more than anybody else. Germany’s done a lot; South Korea’s done a lot. They call me, they say the job you’re doing—here’s the bad part, when you test of—when you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases. So, I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’ They test and they test . . .
“Even though he’s very liberal, the governor of New Jersey, right? Do you know him? Now, listen. He said to me something that’s amazing. New Jersey was very heavily hit, very hard hit, thousands of people. He said, with thousands of people that died, thousands of people, there was only one person that died under the age of 18, would you believe that? Which tells me one thing, that kids are much stronger than us. When you see a little kid running around, say, ‘Boy, oh, boy, do you have a great immune system. How about a piece of your immune system?’ They don’t even know about this. Let’s open the schools, please, open. Open the schools.
“And every once in a while, I’ll have one of these days where I’m hit left and right, left and right, like, even this great event. What—if you could have seen outside or you could have heard the reports. The reports, ‘Oh, it’s COVID, it’s this—I’ve got—by the way, it’s a disease without question has more names than any disease in history. I can name kung flu. I can name 19 different versions of names. Many call it a virus, which it is. Many call it a flu, what difference?”
And they say Biden’s demented?
Look, just because it’s hard to believe that America would reelect a man who sounds this crazy doesn’t mean we should get complacent.
It’s time to get off the couch and get to work. Register to vote. Register others to vote. Campaign in the swing states. Do what you have to do. We’ve got a racist despot to defeat. v