The laughter over the lies
On CNN Wednesday night, Trump delivered the routine he's been doing for eight years. It's the audience that was the tell.
Donald Trump’s most arresting tactic as a three-time presidential candidate over the last long eight years has been his acidic deployment of humor.
If you go back through his most memorable lines — the cable TV soundbites, the meme-makers, the clips you’ve shared in text threads or Instagram messages — it’s largely Trump being deadpan funny.
Not to universally excuse these quips as appropriate or discount the truth that many are crude, degrading and dishonest. But humor has been Trump’s convenient exit latch, his way out of a tough corner, his device to paper over the monstrous and preposterous fibs.
It’s a rare trait for the inherently droll politician at any level. And an incredibly potent one — since so many of us are readymade to laugh at the folly of our politics altogether. Of Dianne Feinstein being wheeled in to the Senate like she’s an able-bodied lawmaker. Of George Santos scampering down a Capitol corridor with lunch-in-hand for the reporters charged with staking out his taxpayer-funded office of falsehoods.
We laugh because to treat it all with a seriousness other than sport would be unnerving.
Trump’s TV savvy afforded him a comic gift early. His mocking intonation. His well-paced pause. His frenetic hand gestures and cartoonish facial contortions. He knows a joke discards the seriousness of the question.
Better yet, laughing at him means you’re in on it — together.