Donald Trump and his motley group of hardcore supporters never shy away from painting the administration’s accomplishments (or failures) in grandiose terms. After Trump’s eight months in office, there is little doubt in the minds of most Americans that the man whom they have elected to head the most powerful country in the world is a megalomaniac, who loves to project himself in splashy, bombastic hues even as his unpopularity ratings hit an all-time low.
While much of that megalomania springs from Donald Trump himself, his most loyal supporters seem almost immune to — and even encourage — Trump’s tactic of doubling down on a lie even now when he is president. The proof of the efficiency of such vicious tactic came recently from the horse’s mouth, when Steve Bannon — perhaps the most loyal of Trump supporters — revealed on 60 minutes that the “Billy Bush weekend” taught him a lesson, which was that if you told a lie with much confidence and kept the facade of being completely in control at all times, no matter the amount of onslaught from detractors or media, you could continue to live in a false, shady bubble of your own making without as much as a hint of accountability.
This is the idea that catapulted Trump to presidency, and continues to keep him there, despite all the furor around.
Many would remember Trump’s former press secretary Sean Spicer’s now-infamous comment soon after Trump took oath as president, in which he had falsely claimed that Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony “was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe” even with direct photographic evidence proving the contrary. It set the pace and tone for Trump’s administration and his public relations team, which continues to paint the most innocuous of steps as game-changing, country-altering accomplishments, while covering up the lack of transparency and accountability in this White House by being obtuse, and when that does not work, by trying to become flat-track bullies.
And although Sean Spicer himself might not be at the White House anymore (he seemed to be in the mood to redeem himself yesterday with some self-aggrandizing jokes at the Emmys where he claimed that it was biggest crowd in Emmy history, “period!”), this White House’s tactic of projecting itself in the most vain of terms and using hyperbole and rhetoric to kill down debate while proving themselves to be hugely inept in their jobs is something which unravels itself almost all the time.
In April, a big fuss about a trifle was made when Donald Trump’s administration claimed to have dropped the “mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan’s Achin district, purportedly to obliterate a stronghold of ISIS. Several credible news media organizations reported that it was the biggest non-nuclear weapon ever to be used in battle. And yet, when BBC’s Auliya Autrafi visited the area a few days after the bomb was dropped, much to his and our surprise, an Afghan officer corrected him about the impact of the bomb.
“For a start this bomb wasn’t as powerful as you think. There are still green trees standing 100m away from the site of the impact.
“Daesh (ISIS) hasn’t gone anywhere; there are hundreds of caves like the one the Americans bombed. They can’t get rid of them like this.”
So much for the “mother of all bombs.”
Trump’s administration and his most loyal supporters like to imagine themselves as being powerful and in control, and that is what keeps them going. Most narcissists and global leaders who have understood the importance of media and its role in creating a larger-than-life self-image — in some cases being completely antithetical to their real personalities — have long, even successful political careers. You only have to look at heads of states in countries like Russia, England, India, Israel, most Middle Eastern countries, some African and Latin American countries, and their respective coteries to find out how rhetoric, flamboyance, and spreading propaganda by controlling the stakeholders in the media and entertainment industry could play a huge role in perpetuating a cycle of misinformation to the point where your citizenry goes numb, resulting in rash decisions, often driven by the wrong motivations.
What is clear to us after eight months of Donald Trump’s presidency is that the administration appears to have found a method in the madness. By doubling down and being the first to confront and push “alternate facts” by the full force of media and technology, they are able to keep the circus going. The media makes its money, the people are entertained, and we get to inhabit a world where politics has become a reality show, and we all tend to invest ourselves in it. It is somewhat like the the Truman Show, only uglier. We seem to live in a post-real, post-information world where with the barrage of content and information (wrong and right) numbing our senses, it becomes more and more difficult for us to see things as they are.
So, when a pro-Trump rally had been called in Washington D.C., and billed as the “mother of all rallies,” it was evident to most observers that it was something which must be taken with a pinch of salt. As it turns out, it should have been taken with a handful of salt. Despite the organizers having gone on to call it the “Woodstock” of all rallies, photographs show that no more than a couple of hundred people turned up for it.
With eight months of Donald Trump’s tenure almost drawing to a close, all evidence points to the fact that the administration — and the man himself — will continue to act in the manner they have always done. It may not last them the whole time, and one would imagine a time would come when it would be too much mess even for Trump, his administration, and the Republicans to deal with, but till that time, Trump’s most loyal supporters will perhaps still keep on living in denial. And continue being charmed with the megalomaniacs that live within them, and within all of us.
The faster they snap out of it and face reality, however, the better it will be for all concerned.
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]