There have been so many reasons to feel embarrassed about Donald Trump.
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There was the time he paid off a porn star. There was the time he lied about the size of his inauguration crowd. The time he talked about the big water around Puerto Rico. The time he thought you could kill the coronavirus by injecting yourself with bleach.
But nothing truly comes close to the embarrassment of his so-called comeback rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday.
It was so toe-curlingly cringeworthy, such a crushing humiliation. There are 80s pop bands who have enjoyed greater comebacks than Donald Trump.
To understand how much of his insides will always melt at the thought of that Tulsa rally, it’s worth quoting Trump’s fine words just before he boarded Marine One at the White House.
“The event in Oklahoma is unbelievable,” he boasted. “The crowds are unbelievable. They haven’t seen anything like it. And we will go there now. We’ll give a, hopefully, good speech. We’re going to see a lot of great people, a lot of great friends. And pretty much, that’s it. OK?”
Trump got punked by several hundred thousand TikTok users, organized by a grandmother in Fort Dodge, Iowa
We really haven’t seen anything like that. For a man who loves peddling superlatives, this was the worst measure of his oh-so-sad popularity. The lowest point in electoral incompetence. The saddest campaign fiasco.
The event in Oklahoma was literally unbelievable if you believe that the Trump campaign is competent, and that Trump himself is actually popular. That’s the weird thing about our populist president: his approval ratings have never cracked 50% and are now stuck firmly in the low 40s. Perhaps that’s why he’s trailing Joe Biden by double-digits in recent polls.
As Trump likes to say: Pretty much, that’s it. At least it is for everyone grifting at the Trump campaign. Especially Brad Parscale, the Ferrari-driving manager who went from website builder to social media genius in 2016 but who now faces an imminent return to his website-building career, after predicting a monster rally in Tulsa.
Parscale bragged about “over 1m ticket requests” earlier this week, a number he was so confident about that he built an outdoor event stage for Trump to talk to the massive overflow crowd. That was the day after Parscale tweeted about the “biggest data haul and rally signup of all time by 10x. Saturday is going to be amazing!”
Brad, it was indeed amazing. You got punked by several hundred thousand TikTok users, organized by a grandmother in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Mary Jo Laupp was apparently so upset by the original date and place of Trump’s rally – the city where one of America’s worst racist massacres took place, in 1921 – that she asked people to sign up for the rally and not show up.
Laupp only joined TikTok earlier this year, but her call connected with thousands of K-Pop fans who are what Trump might call a silent majority.
Trump knows as much about Korean pop as he does about the Tulsa massacre and Juneteenth, the original date of his epic comeback rally. Of course he had to ask a black Secret Service agent to explain the meaning of Juneteenth, the holiday marking the emancipation of enslaved people.
“I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.”
As it happened, nobody has ever heard of Trump’s comeback either. That’s in Oklahoma, a state he won by 36 points in 2016. A state no Democratic presidential nominee has won since 1964.
Perhaps the Secret Service could do Trump another favor by explaining how his official excuse for the miserable crowds is even more laughable than all that bragging about MAGA fans.
“Sadly protesters interfered with supporters, even blocking access to the metal detectors, which prevented people from entering the rally,” said Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman who should urgently seek alternative employment.
CNN reporters estimated there were around 175 protesters in Tulsa, so few, in fact, that the sidewalks were clear. Pool reporters traveling with the presidential motorcade said they saw no protesters or supporters en route.
This is the second time in one week that Trump has blown up his own campaign. If the geniuses running his train-wreck of a re-election had any argument against Biden it was this: Biden was soft on China and too unpopular to build a crowd.
But then came John Bolton’s book, revealing Trump’s bootlicking approach to being tough on China. Trump told Xi Jinping he was the greatest leader in Chinese history, which is quite a long time, according to the Secret Service.
Then the campaign was readying the most awesome contrast between the Tulsa rally and Biden’s socially-distanced campaigning. “Barely There Biden” was supposed to be the sequel to “Beijing Biden”.
There’s something else that’s barely there: Trump supporters.
To be fair, if they weren’t discouraged by the many dozens of protesters, Trump’s multitude of Maga-heads might have been discouraged by the pandemic that is now surging in, um, Tulsa.
The Trump White House and campaign would love its fans to pretend the pandemic has disappeared, like a miracle, just as Trump said it would. Sadly six of their own staffers tested positive for the virus on the day of the Tulsa rally, so this is a miracle that is moving as quickly as a president shuffling down a ramp.
Trump told the crowd at great length why he couldn’t possibly walk down a ramp unaided. He even re-enacted his walk down the deadly incline. He also treated them to a long excuse about why he couldn’t hold a glass of water with one hand. It apparently has something to do with protecting his expensive silk tie. Man of the people, that Trump guy.
Just as well he didn’t try to heal the nation’s racial divide. He might have tried to re-enact something far worse.
For the half-filled arena (capacity, 19,000), it was hardly worth risking infection for this mask-free, fact-free and momentum-free event.
“I wish they would spread out a bit,” said CNN’s doctor-in-chief Sanjay Gupta. “It looks like they have the space to do so.”
Soon there will be even more space freed up at Trump’s campaign headquarters. Team Trump: don’t bother planning another rally. You are about to lose your job.