When the president returned to the White House early Sunday morning after his MAGA rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he had the appearance of a soldier returning from a disastrous battle. The New York Times painted the picture: “His tie hung untied around his neck … he waved to reporters, with a defeated expression on his face, holding a crumpled red campaign hat in one hand.”
The kids are calling it the “Walk of Shame.”
He was like the child prodigy who blows the state finals Spelling Bee because he can’t spell M-O-R-A-L-S.
That’s what happens when you go on national television and admit committing a crime against humanity. But it probably wasn’t his admission that he deliberately ordered the government to slow down testing for COVID-19 that had him feeling C-R-U-S-H-E-D.
He had been in a mood of giddy anticipation for days, thinking that all his problems would begin to melt away once he got back in front of his adoring fans. But his fans didn’t show up. He and Mike Pence were expecting to make two appearances in Tulsa. One would be inside the arena, and the other would be an overflow parking lot outside. But the arena was half full and there was no one in the overflow area so that portion of the festivities had to be cancelled.
This was a classic example of overpromising and underdelivering. In the lead-up to Tulsa, both Trump and his campaign manager Brad Parscale suggested that 300,000 or 800,000 or even a million people had requested tickets to the event. Yet fewer than 9,000 people actually attended. Trump’s supporters and enables all had a theory or an excuse for why this happened. Some Korean pop music fans had ordered all the tickets with no intention of showing up, or the media scared people away with their health threats, or MAGA fans were scared of all the violence and looting they’d seen on their TVs. Maybe the Chinese were behind it.
But whatever the explanation, no one forced Trump to spend fifteen minutes explaining why he has difficulty walking down slight inclines or drinking water with one hand.
After the rally, there’s no doubt that Trump spent his time on Air Force One looking at the social media response, and he immediately realized that he’d spawned a couple dozen humiliating memes.
As bad as all of that was, however, it was his realization that he couldn’t get his mojo back with MAGA rallies that must have left him most deflated. The magic is gone. There is no silver bullet. Wishing otherwise won’t make it so.
Most likely, the first casualty of the fiasco with be campaign manager Brad Parscale. But it’s Trump who wanted to do a rally in the middle of a pandemic when health officials said it was an unacceptable risk. He has no one to blame for the result but himself.