Republican candidates held a debate in Florida on Wednesday night. So Donald Trump held a rally at the same time in the same state, because that’s exactly the sort of kicking-people-when-they’re-down that Trump most enjoys.
At this rally, Trump delivered a speech riddled with nonsense, nonsequiturs, and plain old lies. He also made errors of a scale that show he has little grasp on the threats America faces, the solutions to the nation’s issues, or reality.
But the most shocking thing about the massive errors Trump made in this rally is that you have to come to Daily Kos or scour social media to find out about it. Because the national media, when they bothered to report on Trump’s rally at all, was so fixated on Trump upstaging his Republican opponents that they didn’t bother to mention how Trump’s speech completely jumped the rails.
At his South Florida rally, Trump once again praised the authoritarian leader of Hungary, Viktor Orban.
To Trump’s credit, he was at least correct about the country that Orban leads this time. When he brought up Orban two weeks ago, Trump called him the leader of Turkey.
However, Trump still seems to believe that Hungary shares a border with Russia. It does not. Orban has all of Ukraine acting as a buffer between his country and Vladimir Putin, which is very handy for someone who wants to scoff at the Russian threat.
But Trump didn’t stop with just expressing his admiration for right-wing authoritarian leaders who were elected. He also went dreamy over dictators who inherited their power in a government that doesn’t even pretend to represent its citizens.
The population of North Korea is only 26 million, but that’s not the worst part of this statement. Since when is being an absolute tyrant worthy of praise? The whole focus of this section of Trump’s speech appears to be that people who have taken power over others deserve acclaim, no matter how that power was obtained and no matter how brutally it is used.
As for Kim Jong Un and his 1.4 billion thralls, Trump may have mistaken Kim for Xi Jinping. He may have simply grabbed for a number that sounded good. After all, it’s not as if anyone is going to call him on it.
Here’s a bit of time travel. In 1976, President Gerald Ford fumbled a response during a debate with Gov. Jimmy Carter and said there was “no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford Administration.” Ford later explained that he meant to say that the people of these nations still opposed Soviet power, but the statement plagued Ford right up until Election Day. Pundits questioned his understanding of world politics and his knowledge of historical events. That’s despite Ford being a naval officer in World War II and serving in the House since 1949. Ford was still being asked about this statement years after the election.
If you need something more modern, try searching “Joe Biden” and “gaffe.” But please limit your responses to recent weeks. Otherwise, the list will go on forever. For example, here’s CNN devoting 500 words to Biden incorrectly naming an Irish rugby team. And another article on this same flub from The Guardian. And one from USA Today. There are plenty more, even though Biden almost immediately corrected himself.
But if you search for Trump’s claims that Hungary borders Russia or his confusion over Kim Jong Un, you’ll find … crickets.
Actually, that’s not quite true. In a running report on the Republican debate, one commentator at The Washington Post mentions in passing that Trump once again extended the Russian border to Hungary. That seems to be all the space that paper, or any other national paper, devoted to Trump’s mistakes. CNN didn’t mention it. USA Today discussed how Trump was holding a rally to tweak his opponents, but didn’t report on what he said.
The New York Times did cover Trump’s rally. That included reporting on how it was “a kind of Make America Great Again festival,” talking about the food trucks and T-shirts, and explaining how Trump compared President Joe Biden to Fidel Castro in an outreach to Cuban voters. Trump’s praise for Kim and Orban, along with his mistakes on the size of North Korea or Hungary's geography, got not a single word. Neither did any of the obscene weirdness, like the moment when Trump reported his parents were looking down to praise him for being indicted.
It’s not like any of this is new. Allowing Trump to spout nonsense, hate, and unchecked calls for violence is what the national media does. So is clutching pearls over every slip of the tongue—or foot—by Biden.
They want their horserace, and they’re going to get it no matter how hard they have to press their thumb on the scale, or what risk it generates for the nation.
The band is back together, and it is a glorious day as Markos and Kerry’s hot takes over the past year came true—again! Republicans continue to lose at the ballot box and we are here for it!