Maureen Dowd thinks President Donald Trump is smug. In a recent column for the , she described his rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan as “the night for Smugness Maximus.” Trump does brag and get boisterous at these events. He openly operates under Damon Runyon’s maxim: “He who tooteth not his own horn, the same shall not be tooted.” Other politicians and celebrities live by the same rule, but pundits like Dowd let that slide when those guys play for their team. Was she concerned when America was bombarded with smug assurances by Trump’s political opponents, media grandees, and Hollywood megaminds that Trump was guilty of treason and their smugger declarations that the military should drag him out of the White House in chains, slap his orange person into an orange prison uniform, then pack him off to rot in Leavenworth forever? Not really. She apparently liked what she heard. Well, Trump liked what he heard from Robert Mueller, and if he’s now smug about it, it’s a happy smugness. He’s spiking the football, then doing an energetic end zone dance after scoring a touchdown. His is the joy of winning a glorious victory after enduring more political fire than any president since Abraham Lincoln. Dowd is also smug, but her smugness is a sneering smugness. She finds the delight of Trump and his supporters proof of their inelegant inferiority.
Dowd oozes smugness as she describes Trump’s rally. Donald Trump Jr. is “cockier-than-usual” when he opens the event with a Michael Avenatti joke — MAGA this week stands for “Michael Avenatti Got Arrested.” Avenatti was the “creepy porn lawyer” for Stormy Daniels, the stripper who claimed to have had sex with Trump, took cash to stay quiet, then told all from coast to coast and around the world, yet who sees no reason to return her payment. Avenatti was the darling of the cable shows as he claimed to have more and more dirt on Trump. He even wanted to run for the presidency but now faces extortion charges. After tormenting Donald Jr.’s father, a joke doesn’t seem an unfair burn to return.
Dowd targets more smugness at a couple of Trump supporters in the crowd. One, a fellow with a goatee and a neck tattoo, sounds like a hipster, similar to the species she might encounter in a New York City bistro as she mingles with lesser Gothamites, but he isn’t. He’s wearing a T-shirt that presumably refers to Hillary Clinton. It bears: “BITCH, I’M THE PRESIDENT!” How vulgar! Dowd, apparently, hasn’t seen any of the virulently obscene T-shirts worn at any anti-Trump rally. Either that, or they offend not her eye.
The other Trump supporter Dowd unloads the smug on is a woman with a “Women for Trump” sign. She runs a tavern. How bourgeois! When she says she trusts Trump but is disappointed that Hillary isn’t in jail, Dowd feels it necessary to educate her, saying: “Jared and Ivanka had also now landed in hot water for using private [email] accounts for official business.” Dowd glosses over the fact that Clinton, as Secretary of State, betrayed the far greater trust placed in her. If the Mueller probe is the standard for Trump administration investigations, Jared and Ivanka will get every hair on their heads examined microscopically. Hillary skated away from responsibility faster than the cast of the Ice Capades would depart their rink if powerful rocket boosters were strapped to their backs.
Dowd does some smug mind reading when she complains about Trump’s stating during the rally that MSNBC’s ratings dropped after the collusion hoax fell apart. “In Trump’s simplistic mind,” she simplistically informs us, “that is the worst thing that can happen to anyone.” Well, for a cable news network that has to pay Rachel Maddow’s $7 million a year salary plus bennies, it is.
Dowd doesn’t neglect to repeat the continuing smear that somehow Trump stole the election, attributing it to unnamed “foes” and not to herself. She writes, “What [Trump] sees as the plot against him… is a mirror image of what his foes see: a fraud perpetrated by corrupt people, ‘a sinister effort to undermine’ the election and a poisoning of the national debate that has left us hurt and divided and ‘on artificial respirators,’ tearing ‘the fabric of our great democracy.’” There is no “mirror” equivalency, however. What Trump’s foes insist on seeing and what is reality are two different things according to Robert Mueller. Poor man, he was a Hero of the Resistance just days ago and now, he’s as disappointing to them as a damp firecracker on the Fourth of July. It wouldn’t be surprising if people start yelling at him in restaurants.
Towards the end of her column, Dowd describes Trump as going “flat” in the last hour of the rally. She speculates that Trump’s energy waned because he misses the foil of Mueller and asks, “Did he know in his heart that he was guilty of some of those sins?” Does Dowd know in her heart that it’s not in the keeping with journalism’s highest ideals to suggest guilt of disproven sins? But who believes in their heart that journalistic ideals are important after the last few years?
There is one moment of happiness in Dowd’s column. Trump ad-libs a lot of his rally speeches. Dowd quotes a bit of meandering. It’s nothing like Obama’s off-teleprompter babbling, which he speckles with a hundred-and-one “uh”s, but it’s enough to prove to Dowd that Trump is a dummy. Her smugness is reassured.
Dowd reports some admiration for one Republican in her column. She compares Gerald Ford to Trump, the “victorious Vulgarian spewing bile,” by noting the words gracing Ford’s final resting place across the Grand River from the rally: “Trustworthy, Respectful, Team Player, Compassion, Steady Leader.” She doesn’t say Ford was those things — she just mentions them. She doesn’t mention that he was scorned by her side of the political spectrum as a buffoon, who had played too much football without a helmet, as a klutz on Saturday Night Live who took ridiculous pratfalls, and as a stooge for President Richard Nixon, who supposedly struck a secret deal for a pardon in return for being named Vice President. Actually, Ford was an intelligent man, one of our most athletic presidents, and he pardoned Nixon to end the Watergate mess that the Democrats would have dragged on for years. He took the scorn with quiet dignity and good humor. Now, Dowd uses Ford to knock Trump. Trump supporters, however, remember that while the self-effacing Ford will go down in history as a more dignified leader than Trump, he lost his one bid to be elected president, and we got President Jimmy Carter instead.