Going back and reviewing Donald Trump's speech earlier in the week at Mar-a-Lago, where the former president announced his third presidential bid, Politico co-founder John Harris suggested the spark has not only gone out of the Trump's message but that he seems to be going through the motions.
In short, he observed, Trump is no longer having fun when he stands before a group of admirers and lists off his plans to run again.
On Tuesday, the former president spoke before a crowd -- some of whom were not allowed to leave the ballroom while he was still talking -- with Harris reporting, "It used to be that even people who found his politics and character repellent could still find something enlivening in his performance. Trump in earlier days was often funny. He knew it, and he used it. At a minimum, there was never a doubt that he was vastly entertaining himself," before adding, "On the week that he announced his third presidential campaign, there is ample reason to doubt. Trump is a master of demagogic arts. But in his long, numbing speech at Mar-a-Lago this week, something in the potion was off."
According to Harris, Trump seemed fitter than usual and didn't show any evidence of decline since he left office -- but something appeared to be off compared to the Trump of old.
"The most significant change — it is dramatic — was that in 2015 Trump was self-evidently having fun and good-naturedly inviting his audience to have fun with him," he wrote. "Yes, there were lines in 2015 that stirred outrage — his assertion that a flood of undocumented immigrants included many 'rapists' — but the dominant tone was one of almost adolescent ebullience."
Now, possibly weighed down by legal woes, Trump's message and delivery were so flat that the major cable networks -- including Fox News -- cut away from live-broadcasting which the Politico founder suggested was an ominous sign for a presidential candidate already battered by a poor GOP midterm showing that is primarily being pinned on him.
Writing, "...for all the raucous braggadocio, there was a human dimension to Trump in 2015 that was barely evident in the heavy, heaving, hectoring tone of this week’s announcement," he then explained, "In his 2022 incarnation, Trump is no longer a familiar American type. He is instead proposing to import a kind of Juan Peronism onto soil that has never in 240 years supported that kind of thing. The poor showing of election deniers in the midterm elections suggests the United States remains hostile ground to true authoritarianism."
"On Tuesday, anchors cut away from his speech in the middle for roundtable analysis. No doubt they were responding to scolding from journalistic priests who warn about illegitimately amplifying Trump’s bombast and deceptions. But the real reason was that listening to Trump’s speech was a bit of a slog. Unfortunately, listening to analysts describe it as low-energy and full of falsehoods was also a bit of a slog," he wrote before warning, "Deep down, Trump is too much of a natural performer not to know the truth. He is no longer having fun. When he is boring even to himself, it’s going to be very hard to keep his audience."
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