In the wake of a series of mailed bombs to his most serious critics and to CNN last week, President Donald Trump was visibly perturbed -- about the midterms.
"Now this 'Bomb' stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows - news not talking politics. Very unfortunate, what is going on."
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Give the man credit: He tweets exactly what he's thinking. He said it again on the White House lawn. "But we have to start the momentum again."
What's he doing to restart it?
He's throwing false promises up against the wall and seeing what sticks pre-election. He's stoking fear with a web ad that portrays immigrants as heinous criminals only the Democrats would let into the country. He threatens to defy the Constitution and end birthright citizenship through executive order (he can't do it by fiat). This, of course, from the same man who tweeted in 2012 -- after President Barack Obama issued an executive order on "Dreamers" -- calling such actions "major power grabs of authority."
How time flies.
Here's more of his eleventh-hour-not-happening campaign hits: He'll force Republicans to support keeping pre-existing conditions for health plans. (Is there a sign-up sheet somewhere? How can you run on repealing Obamacare while pledging to keep its central tenet?) Oh, and there's going to be a new tax cut for the middle class. (Um, Congress is out of session.) As for that ballooning deficit? Whatever.
And in what he believes is his most potent issue -- immigration -- he's now sending 5,200 troops to the border to protect Americans from a group of migrants referred to as the "caravan" ("invaders," as he and his news acolytes like to call them). So is the administration closing the southern border? Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders would talk only about "options" on the table. But wait: These units are not allowed to use the military to enforce domestic law. And the migrants are weeks away from arriving at the border, when many plan to seek asylum.
But the election is just a week away.
The President probably thought things were going swimmingly, as he made great headway with his message about the migrant group, which he said included some "gang members and some very bad people," not to mention dangerous people from the Middle East. Add that to the Justice Brett Kavanaugh fallout, and he had blame enough to spread on the Democrats -- gin up his base, and maybe even deflate Democratic enthusiasm.
It really all came together when he blamed Democratic mobs for attacking Republicans. He even threw out the tried and true (actually false) claims of voter fraud, admonishing his supporters to watch out for it.
The table was set.
After the pipe bombs came the horrific shootings at a Pittsburgh synagogue, which claimed the lives of 11 people. The country was in shock. The President read appropriate remarks from a prompter, then went to a pre-planned rally where he announced he might tone it down -- right before entertaining chants of "lock her up" and calling members of the media "foolish and very stupid people."
Two days later, he proceeded again to call the media the enemy of the people and couldn't quite get why that was not an appropriate thing.
Trump needs his enemies. It's his oxygen. He had it all planned, attacking Democrats while putting out proposal after proposal to please his base that he knew would go nowhere.
But the world intervened -- and stopped his precious momentum, confusing the President. He wants to punch, but the ropes surround him everywhere.