May 12, 2023

Donald Trump Body-Slams CNN

The message to the rest of the GOP field was, “Watch out, below!”

A viral video that caused outrage a few years ago had Donald Trump body-slamming the cable network CNN personified as a professional wrestler.

This “MAGA” fantasy was all but made a reality at a CNN townhall with the former president in New Hampshire the other night.

Trump steamrolled the moderator Kaitlan Collins, relentlessly stuck to his most outrageous contentions on everything from Jan. 6 to claims the 2020 election was stolen, lit up the audience of supportive Republicans, and proved that he is as outlandishly entertaining and compulsively watchable as he was at his height in 2016.

The message to the rest of the GOP field was, “Watch out, below!”

The forum underlined how one of Trump’s greatest strengths is the sheer force of his personality.

One of his advantages in the 2016 primaries was that, as the leader in the polls, he always stood dead center in the debate stage, taller, more vivid, and more commanding than the other candidates.

It almost didn’t matter what Trump said or did on stage, because the way he acted and looked projected strength — there’s a reason the old pros, like the late Roger Ailes of Fox News and Trump himself, watch TV with the sound off to get a true sense of the impression being made.

If Trump wins the Republican nomination next year, it will be partly because Republicans are once again drawn to what they consider his distinctive and unmatched sense of personal power.

Trump’s is an odd and obviously very flawed kind of strength. For him, it’s a quality that is consistent with whining, insecurity, defensiveness and a refusal to take responsibility — all of which usually lead us to conclude someone is weak.

Trump makes up for it with what my National Review colleague Michael Brendan Dougherty calls “willfulness,” a deep-seated, near-primal drive to impose what he wants, whether on a political narrative, a negotiation, a set of rules or, at the CNN townhall, an interviewer.

Incapable of shame, he didn’t display the slightest defensiveness about Jan. 6 or his conspiracy theories about the election, despite Collins repeatedly challenging him on them. He bulldozed through every fact check, even saying he’d completed his border wall. He mocked the claims of E. Jean Carroll, who had just won a jury verdict against him in New York. There was never a sense that he wasn’t in complete command — Gulliver easily swatting away a determined but unthreatening Lilliputian.

Was Trump truthful or respectful? Of course, not. The dynamic, though, is that the more he says things he shouldn’t, the stronger he seems. For Republicans, there was also the advantage of Trump taking on the cable network they disdain most; he turned the much-hyped town hall into an embarrassment for its sponsor.

This points to the way that Trump can out-MAGA Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the rest of the GOP field — by always being on the offensive, never being abashed about his own contradictions or mistakes or weaknesses, making himself the constant focus of attention, and overall just being a bigger personality.

It always helps when other Republicans seem afraid of him, and they usually do.

Of course, Trump’s is, to a large extent, a faux strength. There’s a place for discipline, selflessness and knowledge in true strength. It also will avail Republicans little if Trump projects his characteristic showy strength in the course of winning the GOP primaries and then loses the general election — or wins, only to govern in an even more shambolic fashion than the first time around.

There’s a lot of material that DeSantis or another Republican candidate has to work with against Trump, who is vulnerable to attacks from the right on his response to the coronavirus and his performance on other conservative priorities as president. But no one else is becoming the nominee unless at the end of the day Donald Trump is no longer the biggest person in the room.

© 2023 by King Features Syndicate

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

The Patriot Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, in keeping with our Military Mission of Service to our uniformed service members and veterans, are proud to support and promote the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, both the Honoring the Sacrifice and Warrior Freedom Service Dogs aiding wounded veterans, the National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, the Folds of Honor outreach, and Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, and Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13)


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

Join us in prayer for our nation, that good and righteous leaders would rise and prevail, and that division would be healed so we can be united as Americans. We pray also for the protection of our Military Patriots, Veterans and First Responders, and for their families.

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2023 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.