Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Trump Train stops in Cleveland Heights

Bulletin: events in Charlotte NC today have pre-empted planned showing of this Town Hall, tentatively re-set for broadcast tomorrow at 10pm.

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS OH — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spent the morning at New Spirit Revival Center today for what was billed as a “town hall meeting to discuss issues confronting urban America”.

No surprise to those who pay attention, but it turns out it was anything but a Town Hall meeting. More on that later.

There were actually two campaign events this morning at the New Spirit Revival Center. The first was a meeting with black pastors that was open to the media. I was busy claiming a seat on the other side of the huge NSRC complex. The clergy meeting was likely well covered by other reporters, who focused on Don King’s extemporaneous talk that featured his accidental [?!] use of the N-word.

I suspect but don’t as of this writing know that the pastors’ meet up was almost as phony and scripted as the pseudo town hall gathering. You can watch that event on Fox News tonight at 10p in the year-long Trump for President infomercial known as the Sean Hannity Show. Suffice to say that while this will be put in the column of outreach to the black community, fully 80% of the audience was white, overwhelmingly suburban GOP faithful.

The entire event was scripted, the black attendees were corralled in the front row “reserved seat” section, and the dialogue with the community consisted of two, pre-approved questions, neither one of which did Trump actually answer. To the first question, which was about black-on-black violence, Trump called for the nationwide implementation of the “stop and frisk” policies that were notoriously used by the Giuliani administration in New York City in the 1990s. The policy led to phenomenal police incursions in communities of color, the detainment of tens of thousands of black and brown people, and ratcheted up police community hostility. Trump today called the policy “very successful”, either unmindful or disdainful of the fact that a federal court ruled the policy unconstitutional.

The second question came from a disabled US Army veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq war theatres. His question was about what could be done with respect to the criminalization of returning veterans who became addicted to opioids [legal or illegal] and whose lives deteriorate as a result. Trump’s response was to talk about his fantasy wall along the Mexican border.

I will have more to report on this event but it will have to wait for later in the week. I will say that the cast of characters on stage with Trump and Hannity did raise my eyebrow. In addition to Don King, there was Trump running mate Mike Pence, Dr. and Mrs. Ben Carson, former Cleveland attorney turned right-wing west coast media personality Larry Elder, Niger Innis, and the ubiquitous Omarosa.

The show airs at 10p tonight on the Fox News cable channel. Show host Sean Hannity hardly asked Trump any questions, preferring instead to condemn and ridicule Hilary Clinton and the Democrats, cite deplorable statistics about the black community that were totally devoid of any context, and then tee up an opening for Trump to utter a few well-rehearsed lines.

I can’t end without saying that I found this not-Town Hall event to be simultaneously hypocritical, condescending, and phony. Still, there was a certain skill to its execution, designed as it was to create a false image of outreach.

They might have done better had they told the white suburbanites to stay away. Those folk could not have been happier as they led the cheers for virtually every Hannity inanity.

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