* A lot of people (including me) have heard echoes of the McCarthy era in Republican rhetoric over the last few years – especially from Donald Trump. So it should come as no surprise when Jonathan Mahler and Matt Flegenheimer tell us that the presumptive nominee was mentored by none other than Roy Cohn – McCarthy’s right-hand man.
For Mr. Cohn, who died of AIDS in 1986, weeks after being disbarred for flagrant ethical violations, Mr. Trump was something of a final project. If Fred Trump got his son’s career started, bringing him into the family business of middle-class rentals in Brooklyn and Queens, Mr. Cohn ushered him across the river and into Manhattan, introducing him to the social and political elite while ferociously defending him against a growing list of enemies.
Decades later, Mr. Cohn’s influence on Mr. Trump is unmistakable. Mr. Trump’s wrecking ball of a presidential bid — the gleeful smearing of his opponents, the embracing of bluster as brand — has been a Roy Cohn number on a grand scale. Mr. Trump’s response to the Orlando massacre, with his ominous warnings of a terrorist attack that could wipe out the country and his conspiratorial suggestions of a Muslim fifth column in the United States, seemed to have been ripped straight out of the Cohn playbook.
“I hear Roy in the things he says quite clearly,” said Peter Fraser, who as Mr. Cohn’s lover for the last two years of his life spent a great deal of time with Mr. Trump. “That bravado, and if you say it aggressively and loudly enough, it’s the truth — that’s the way Roy used to operate to a degree, and Donald was certainly his apprentice.”
* Oh geeze, are we really going to do this again?
Donald Trump questioned Hillary Clinton’s commitment to her Christian faith on Tuesday, saying that little is known about her spiritual life even though she’s been in the public eye for decades.
Speaking to a group of top social conservative evangelical Christian leaders at a gathering in New York City, Trump said, “we don’t know anything about Hillary in terms of religion.”
“Now, she’s been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there’s no — there’s nothing out there,” Trump said. “There’s like nothing out there. It’s going to be an extension of Obama but it’s going to be worse, because with Obama you had your guard up. With Hillary you don’t, and it’s going to be worse.”
* The above item represents a bit of pandering from the Trump campaign. But they weren’t done yet.
After meeting with a large group of conservative Christian leaders in New York City, Donald Trump has chosen his evangelical advisory board. Its members will advise the presumptive Republican nominee on issues important to the faith community.
The most well-known names on the list include former Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and Faith and Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed.
* But not all the leaders of the Christian right are getting on the bandwagon. Michael Farris – who is best know for founding the Home School Legal Defense Association – wrote this today:
I attended the very first meeting of the Moral Majority held in Indianapolis in February of 1980. I was the Washington state director of the MM and have been a leader of the “Christian right” ever since.
Today an estimated 1,000 evangelical leaders are making a pilgrimage to Trump Tower to “listen” to Donald Trump…
While I don’t question the motives of those who are trekking to the Tower, I strongly dissent from the wisdom of their chosen path.
This meeting marks the end of the Christian Right…
In 1980 I believed that Christians could dramatically influence politics. Today, we see politics fully influencing a thousand Christian leaders.
This is a day of mourning.
* Just in case this whole Trump presidential campaign hasn’t been weird enough for you already, this little item should put it over the top.
On Monday night, the Trump campaign filed its monthly Federal Election Commission campaign disclosure report for May. The headline was that his fundraising was anemic and he finished the month with just $1.3 million on hand, a pittance for a presidential nominee.
But buried in Trump’s 1699-page report was something much weirder. The Trump campaign made $35,000 in payments to an entity called “Draper Sterling” for “web advertising.” Three $10,000 payments and one $5,000 payment were placed on the campaign’s American Express card on the same day.
Draper and Sterling, of course, are the fictional names of the two lead characters in Mad Men, the hit AMC show about advertising.
Go read the rest of the story. It gets even more bizarre.
* Finally, Hillary Clinton gave a speech today about what a Donald Trump presidency would mean for our economy. You can watch her speech, or take a look at this ad the campaign put together that pretty well sums things up.