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Donald Trump Jacob Heilbrunn Politics US Politics

For President Trump, things are going from plaid to worse

From Bob Woodward, to the New York Times, and now Plaid Shirt Guy, The Donald is getting it from all angles

September 7, 2018

1:17 PM

7 September 2018

1:17 PM

It’s hard to avoid the impression that Donald Trump is being stalked by Anonymous, or anomious, as he mispronounced it twice at his rally last night in Billings, Montana (prompting another round of speculation about why he is slurring words). The proof came right as he was denouncing the Democrats for being nothing more than a bunch of lowdown, rotten ‘haters.’ Behind him stood an anonymous young man in a plaid shirt with a three-day stubble who became a sensation on Twitter as he made a bunch of animated facial expressions indicating a degree of skepticism and surprise in response to Trump’s complaints about everything from Bob Woodward’s character assassination to the assault by an op-ed writer in the New York Times. Plaid shirt was quickly hustled off by Trump personnel and replaced by a woman, whom many on Twitter speculated was Zina Bash, one of Brett Kavanaugh’s handlers, to alter the background scenery, as it were, as Trump spoke. It wouldn’t be all that surprising if there is a run on plaid shirts this weekend as they become a new symbol of resistance to Trump.

It seems to be dawning upon Trump that his grip on power is eroding. Kavanaugh is likely to be confirmed to the Supreme Court, but Senate Democrats are starting to find their voice as they pummel him and their Republican counterparts for staging what amounts to a phony hearing. This unwonted feistiness is a portent of what may be to come. The fact is that the GOP could lose not only the House, but also the Senate this fall. The latest polling indicates a dead heat in Tennessee, where Marsha Blackburn is running against Phil Bredesen. In Indiana, Senator Joe Donnelly holds a slight lead over Mike Braun. Trump thinks he can rouse the faithful by holding rallies, but he may simply be compounding the damage that his turbulent presidency has already inflicted upon the GOP itself. The more he rants, the less popular he becomes.

Indeed, last night, he preemptively chastised his audience in Montana. If he’s impeached, ‘it’s your fault, ’cause you didn’t go out to vote.’ This may motivate the hardest elements of his base to come out but it’s hardly the kind of uplifting message that a president who has just presided over another strong month of job growth in August, along with the strongest wage gain since 2009 and a stock market up 27 per cent since he took office, would normally be touting.

Instead, Trump continues to lash out at his real and perceived enemies. This morning he made another sally at Woodward, announcing, ‘The Woodward book is a scam. I don’t talk the way I am quoted. If I did I would not have been elected President. These quotes were made up. The author uses every trick in the book to demean and belittle. I wish the people could see the real facts – and our country is doing GREAT!’ So how come CNN just released a photo of the original letter to South Korea ending a free trade agreement that Trump’s economic adviser Gary Cohn swiped off of his desk in the Oval Office to ensure that it was never actually sent?

At the same time, Trump is embarking upon his own personal witch hunt to out the official who sent the op-ed to the Times. Senator Rand Paul has suggested that Trump use a lie detector on top officials in the White House. My suggestion would be to look for someone in the executive branch wearing a plaid shirt.

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