By Glynn Wilson –
MOBILE, Ala. — Television celebrity president-elect Donald J. Trump ended his “victory tour” or “thank you tour” where his campaign took off 16 months ago, before an adoring crowd of average, working class “conservative” Republicans at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in the home town of Senator Jeff Sessions.
When Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” came blaring from the loud speakers, Trump entered the small, half-full stadium that holds a maximum of 40,000 along a grey catwalk framed by red poinsettias. He was greeted by his loyal followers, many of them in red USA T-shirts and Make America Great Again caps, with a roar normally reserved for the likes of the Alabama Crimson Tide football team. The entire gathering has the feel of a football Saturday tailgate party, complete with food and drink vendors and T-shirt salesmen hawking their wares.
“This is where it all began,” Trump proclaimed, referring to the first big stadium rally he held here in August, 2015. It was an event that shaped his future campaign, carrying him across the country to similar venues and helped him defeat 17 other Republican contenders, before he won the general election on Nov. 8 with 306 Electoral College votes to Hillary Clinton’s 232.
“It’s a movement,” Trump declared. “Don’t forget, they didn’t know you existed until Election Day — and then they said, ‘Where the hell did all those people come from?’ ”
Trump promised again to repeal Obamacare, defend the Second Amendment right to bear arms, to build a wall to stop illegal immigrants from entering the country, and to fight for the protection of religious liberty (not that it’s really at risk). He acknowledged Christian evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the Reverand Billy Graham, in the crowd.
“The forgotten men and women of this country,” Trump added, “you’re not forgotten any longer. You will never be forgotten again. Together, we will raise incomes and bring back our jobs.”
At one point Mr. Trump starting talking about the problem of crime in American cities, then interrupted his speech to introduce Senator Sessions, his pick for Attorney General, who struts into the stadium and down the catwalk toward the podium, basking in Trump’s celebrity glow.
Sessions was “the first major endorsement I had,” Trump says. “He’s someone I’m very proud to call a friend.”
“Thank you Mr. President-elect,” Sessions says. “What a great honor it is to have you back in my hometown.”
Sessions was one of the first members of either house of Congress to see something in Trump and get onboard the bandwagon. He took the stage with Trump then and described it as “an eye-opening event.” Sessions became a campaign adviser to Trump, no doubt schooling him in the Southern Strategy of appealing to white, working class voters with coded language that critics see as racist and sexist.
Sessions thanked Trump for “the opportunity to participate in a movement that I believe can help make America great again.”
“When Americans are unified, there is nothing we cannot do,” Trump said. “There’s nothing and nobody like us. My message today is for all Americans.”
The national mainstream media has been critical of Mr. Trump for only showing up in key states that helped him win the election, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina and Ohio.
According to the Washington Post, which had media credentials pulled from reporters who Mr. Trump thought were too critical, “Trump’s tone in the run-up to his Jan. 20 inauguration poses a challenge as he seeks to govern a deeply divided nation and build popular support for his policies.”
Keep in mind this is in a news story, not an opinion column on the editorial page.
“As Trump assembles his administration and prepares to govern, he has continued the divisive rhetoric and showmanship of his campaign,” the Post reports. “He has mocked his opponents, sneered at the media and trumpeted his electoral feats. To the nearly 54 percent of voters who cast ballots for someone else, Trump’s message has been, in short: Get on board or get left behind.”
Quoting Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley, the Post says “Trump’s pre-inaugural posture is unlike any previous president-elect.”
“I’ve never seen a president that continues to campaign instead of reaching out to voters that didn’t like him,” Brinkley said. “He’s shunning Hillary Clinton’s supporters and almost acting like they don’t matter. . . . I think he sees himself as a revolutionary figure, and you’re either going to join the Trump revolution or you’re not.”
In Mobile, Trump responded to the criticism, and national reports say he has told his campaign staff he likes being out on the road and will continue the practice even after he becomes president.
“They’re saying, ‘As president, he shouldn’t be doing rallies,’” Trump said. “But I think we should, right? We’ve done everything else the opposite. This is the way you get an honest word out.”
At one point Trump pointed to the phalanx of TV cameras lined up aimed at him about 40 yards down the field, and called reporters “bad people” who do not tell the truth.
The national mainstream media seems stunned that Trump is holding no news conferences. Trump continues to communicate through Twitter Tweets, 140 characters at a time, and talk directly to “the people” — at least the ones who show up – at the rallies, where his supporters take his side and glare angrily at anyone with a press pass and a camera.
“I know they lie,” said Freddie Killian, 60, an administrative assistant who cheered on Trump in Mobile. “You want to hear the truth? Come out here and listen to him.”
Even before it kicked off, Trump’s event in Mobile drew criticism when it was learned the city dug up an old cedar tree in a local park to use the 50-foot-tall Christmas tree as a stage backdrop. When the Azalea Trail Maids, Mobile’s unofficial ambassadors, welcomed Trump when his plane landed at the Brookley Aeroplex, many responders on Twitter were not happy, Tweeting statements calling it “disgusting.”
Across town, local anti-Trump activists, some associated with the Mobile Democratic Party, built a wall with shoe boxes in a downtown park, each with its own Trump slogan. They then promplty tore down the wall.
© 2016 – 2017, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.