Donald Trump and his campaign threw a meager first punch in response to the announcement that Sen. Kamala Harris would join Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket. Take this incoherent political ad (below) that seems content to state “Kamala Harris is a Democrat,” which by definition in Trumpese makes her part of the “radical left.” She ran for president! She wants to expand health coverage! Taxes! Boo! Here’s a guilt-by-association picture of someone else in the party you probably don’t like! Yet, despite the laundry list of Trump accusations and generic GOP laments, the intended—explicit, in fact—takeaway of the “Slow Joe and Phony Kamala” ad is somehow that Harris is a “phony,” which implies she doesn’t really hold all of those Democratic views? That line of argument seems more targeted at peeling away disenchanted liberal voters than teetering Trump ones. It may seem contradictory and incoherent, but so is the president, and, let’s not forget, Trump has a bizarre psycho-political history of accusing his political opponents of what he suffers from himself.
It is, of course, Trump who accused Hillary Clinton of being “crooked.” It was the Big Mac–fueled, clinically obese candidate who refused to release his health records and hinted his opponent was harboring some secret illness. It was the candidate who received campaign assistance from Russia who charged it was, in fact, Hillary Clinton who was in bed with the Russians! Instead of the usual political tactic of making the campaign about the other person’s weaknesses, Trump’s repeated reliance on the I know you are but what am I method of political public relations usually amounts to a Freudian slip of what he really thinks are his own weaknesses.
It makes sense then that we’ve arrived at the “Slow Joe and Phony Kamala” portion of the campaign. The slow jibe is nothing new. That’s why the “person, woman, man, camera, TV” president predictably wants to make this a race about mental fitness. It’s also the president so bereft of personal authenticity that even his skin is a phony shade of orange who wants to make this a question of someone else being inauthentic, a phony. This from the authentic person who positively gushed about Hillary Clinton the politician in a 2008 interview, who donated money to further her political career, and who invited her to his wedding to Melania. Trump, of course, also donated money to Kamala Harris’ campaigns for state attorney general in California, and his daughter Ivanka gave to her 2014 Senate campaign. See? Totally not a phony. Just a guy doing and saying anything to get ahead in America.
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