Moments after declaring his “movement is a movement built on love,” President Trump delivered a predictably divisive speech full of “us” versus “them” rhetoric at a rally in Phoenix, AZ, on Tuesday night.
Trump’s speech surpassed a level of lunacy that is already quite high for him. He spent the first 20 minutes attempting to rewrite history by reading his prepared remarks on Charlottesville, VA, from last week and assailing the media for inaccurately reporting his reluctance to denounce white nationalism; he conveniently forgot to repeat the part where he condemned violence “on both sides.”
Tuesday’s night’s speech could be summarized as call to arms against the “damned dishonest” media. Trump’s relentless attacks continued throughout his frenzied speech despite his ostensibly insincere calls for “unity.” And with a deranged grin, Trump confirmed the speculation that he would pardon former Sheriff Joe Arpaio — the notorious bigot who was recently convicted of contempt for refusing to obey a court order that he cease racially profiling immigrants while he was sheriff.
“So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job? I’ll make a prediction. I think he will be just fine,” Trump said. “But, I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy. But Sheriff Joe can feel good.” (As if delaying Arpaio’s pardon will make it any less controversial.)
Fellow racist Jeffrey Lord also got a shout out. “They fired Jeffrey Lord, poor Jeffrey,” Trump said referring to the former CNN pundit who was fired for tweeting “Sieg Heil” at a liberal activist. But yeah, peace, love, unity, and safe spaces — because Trump rallies are “safe spaces” as he proclaimed without an ounce of irony.
Ultimately, Trump’s speech proved, once again, that he is a performer who thrives when inciting already hostile crowds — however small the audience may be.