The president can be very entertaining, but I don’t pay much attention to political rallies, including his famously raucous ones.
For the faithful, the rallies are fun spectacles, like rock concerts or ball games. I don’t think they can be taken too seriously, except perhaps as a gauge of the president’s support. Not in lieu of polls, but in conjunction. And with healthy skepticism: The polls have a history of undercounting Trump supporters, but the ardor of the Trump base on display at the rallies should not be confounded with national enthusiasm for the Trump presidency — though it may signal more openness to it, especially in light of the increasingly radical alternative.
Which brings us to Wednesday night’s Trump rally in Greenville, N.C., and the ginned-up crowd of Trump fans chanting “Send her back!”
That was in reference to Ilhan Omar, who is a naturalized American from Somalia, a radical at the crowded junction between Islamists and leftists, and a member of Congress from Minnesota’s fifth district — the deep-blue Twin Cities area that teems with Millennials and Somali immigrants.
All good populist demagoguery needs a villain. President Trump hardly has the market cornered on this. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton studied Alinskyite community organizing. The organizer, a self-styled renegade against The Establishment, is instructed to avoid abstractions when picking an opposition target. You’ve got to make it personal, to polarize the adversary in stark terms. Trump’s persona is to hit back harder than he is hit. No surprise, then, that he is a practitioner of this demagogic art, since he is also the left’s No. 1 target.