Fraudulent billionaire and reality show star Donald Trump held a meeting with right wing Christian leaders yesterday in an effort to shore up his standing among conservatism’s most powerful interest group. Afterwards, Jerry Falwell, Jr. posted this tweet. It is both hilarious and terrifying:
— J L Falwell (@JerryFalwellJr) June 21, 2016
Hilarious, because just to the right of Jerry’s sister Becki’s head there is a framed 1990 Playboy magazine cover featuring Donald Trump. This perfect photobomb encapsulates the hypocrisy of religious fanatics welcoming a freewheeling libertine as their top political leader because they like the way he panders.
Here’s a closer view of that same front cover. Trump’s smug expression is pure Gordon Gekko, while the porn star on his hip is now serving time in prison for smuggling cocaine. It’s a pica-perfect snapshot of Ronald Reagan’s America in its golden moment — you know, when we were still Cold War victorious, but before the Clintons messed everything up with their centrist triangulations, and Republican lads were actually expected to snort coke from hookers’ cleavage as a rite of passage. Good times!
Of course, that was also the period in which the Falwells’ famous father organized the ‘Moral Majority’ in its various crusades against liberalism and western enlightenment, including an anti-pornography campaign that targeted Playboy. Times have indeed changed: the elder Falwell is dead, the magazine no longer features nude women, the internet has removed pornography from the realm of organized protest, and the Falwell children are mere shadows of their patriarch.
In fact, this is the part which should terrify us. Jerry Falwell, Jr. is not a pastor like his father, but an attorney who became president of Liberty University, his father’s diploma mill, after the old man died in 2007. A product of private ‘bible based’ schooling, he has compared Trump to both Jesus and his father, called for more guns on campus, and seems to have violent feelings towards Muslims.
Trump has no firm ideological rooting of any kind and precious little understanding of biblical morals. Yet evangelicals are easily swayed by a conversion story, so Trump will not be held to any kind of standards here. Instead, if elected president he would be just as right wing as the Christian fascists who might surround him — and the Falwells are not even the worst kooks attached to his campaign.
That award goes to Michele Bachmann, who was named to a new Trump “Evangelical executive board” after yesterday’s meeting.
Bachmann, who infamously sounded the alarm about the apocalypse, accused President Obama of supporting “Islamic jihad” and warned of “gang-age” male refugees coming to the United States to rape American women, joins more than two dozen religious leaders on the board. Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., James Dobson, who founded Focus on the Family, and Ralph Reed, founder of Faith and Freedom coalition, are among them.
Trump reportedly earned a standing ovation at the closed-door meeting in New York on Tuesday. Video of the event posted by E.W. Jackson, a minister and former conservative candidate, showed Trump questioning Democrat Hillary Clinton’s religious beliefs, saying after years in the public spotlight, “there’s like nothing out there” about her faith.
How crazy is Michele Bachmann? So crazy that ever since she left the US House of Representatives, her former partners-in-crankery — Iowa’s Steve King and Louie Gohmert of Texas — have competed for the title of America’s silliest congressman, with multiple observers noting that she had them both beat.
How stupid is Michele Bachmann? So stupid that she keeps telling the same story about an American troopship being sunk by a German “U2 boat” during World War II, presumably with Bono aiming the torpedo through his periscope while singing “With or Without You.”
How deranged are Michele Bachmann’s politics? So warped that she saw secret members of the Muslim Brotherhood lurking in American government, including Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and even tried to hold hearings about the monsters under her metaphorical bed.
These are the people to whom Donald Trump has turned for help in getting elected. They eagerly overlook his immense character flaws because they see great potential for their agenda: if he succeeds, they will work hard to shape his presidency to their liking. It’s what they were raised to do, and probably what they do best.
The rest of us can keep laughing until it’s not funny anymore.