As Robert Mueller continues to tighten his vise around the Trump administration, the president released a caustic new 30-second campaign-style ad on Tuesday morning, perhaps in a doomed effort to change the subject.
Being a product of team Trump, the ad is by nature a deeply strange piece of video — but this one may be even more curious than usual. A brief list of its oddest elements:
1) Ill-Timed Obamacare Preoccupation
Was this ad cut in September? No, because Florida congresswoman Frederica Wilson makes an appearance, and she only recently vaulted into the national consciousness two weeks ago. So why does it spend half of its brief running time attacking Democrats for obstructing repeal of the Affordable Care Act, weeks after the latest last-ditch effort to do so failed in Congress — and at the hands of the GOP, not the Democrats? Every Republican has now moved on to the party’s true passion: cutting taxes for millionaires. Keep your eye on the ball, Mr. President!
2) A Very Loose Definition of the “Radical Left”
The ad shows grainy images of known traitors Al Franken, Frederica Wilson, Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi, then accuses Democratic lawmakers of blocking Obamacare repeal to appease “the radical left,” which is represented by menacing marchers with bandannas over their mouths. But while it’s likely true that the Graham-Cassidy bill and its repeal-and-replace predecessors were unpopular among members of Antifa, they were also all despised by the general public. And while equating Republican nay-voters, such as Susan Collins, with the black bloc may excite the likes of Sean Hannity, it’s clearly not a sentiment shared by many other Americans.
3) The Dictatorial Overtones
“President Trump will fix it. He wants what’s best for the American people,” the ad’s narrator intones, as Trump strides across the screen. True, we’ve heard this kind of solipsistic authoritarian bluster from the president before, most famously during his convention speech last year. But it’s still bracing to hear rhetoric usually associated with a sunglasses-wearing military strongman used for an American president, particularly when every piece of evidence points to the fact that President Trump will fix precisely nothing. (Oh, and the ad’s key line recalls the slogan of a now-disgraced British TV entertainer, though that’s admittedly a deep cut for American viewers.)
The ad closes with a plea for viewers to urge Democrats to cooperate with Trump, which is in itself a rather strange (and unrealistic) request, given the president’s relentless unpopularity.
All in all, the ad is among the most peculiar TV offerings we’ve seen from the White House. But if there’s one thing we can count on with this administration, it’s that things will always get weirder.