That’s a rhetorical question, of course he is

Though I admittedly have a lot of shortcomings (except from the waist down, internet trolls), as a rule, I try not to spend too much time being disappointed in myself. Why be a navel-gazing narcissist when instead, I can look outward, being disappointed in so many others?  And yet, I am disappointed in myself.  For every time the cockeyed optimist in me thinks, “Okay, we’ve hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up,” we sink even further into the muck.  Whenever I mistakenly believe we’re scraping ocean floor in the Mariana Trench – i.e., the lowest of low points – Donald J. Trump (the “J.” stands for “Jesus,” his disciples will tell you) whips out his auger, and tries to drill to the earth’s inner core, believed to be about the temperature of the sun. Or perhaps of hellfire. Maybe DJT just wants to advance-scout locations where he’s likely to spend eternity.  

By now, ever since Trump rode into our dark hearts during that golden escalator descent in June of 2015, you know the pattern. One previously unthinkable abomination after another is committed, each of distinct character, or lack of, and yet all still blurring together:   Birtherism-War-heroes-don’t-get-captured-Grab-em-by-the-pussygate-Impeachment-One-Impeachment-Two-Election-denier-January 6th-coup-instigator-Classified-documents-shoplifter-Serial-liar. That is a drastically abridged list. A full one could go on for pages. But if you take even a cursory look at a newspaper, at least at one of the few that are left, you already know this.

What’s new? Well, nothing much. Or maybe an escalation of atrocities, as we say in the culture war-crimes business. In the last several days, Donald Trump has decided to go public with his love for QAnon, the internet death cult that holds that Democrats and The Elites are Satanic pedophiles, from whom only Trump can save us. Never mind that he used to hang with young-girls fetishist Jeffrey Epstein.  And that he still hangs with Matt Gaetz. Maybe he was just working deep cover. DJT is like the Serpico of Satanic-pedophile-sting-operators. Judeo-Christian children everywhere should rest easy, so long as the tangelo-flavored real estate developer is on the case.

But now, Trump, who previously merely flirted with QAnon, is full-on finger-banging them in public. First, Trump had a rally over the weekend, which played Q-Anon themed music, as all the Trumpbots raised their index fingers to indicate the number “one.”  Not because they were U2 fans, hoping Trump broke into the song of the same name.  Nor because they think Donald Trump is number one. Though  despite his dropping popularity from the sheer weight of all his legal entanglements, in the RealClear 2024 Republican primary poll aggregates, he still is number one by about 30 points, no matter how hard Ron DeSantis tries to convince us he’s Trump without the baggage. (Or without the personality.)

No, the reason many extended their index fingers is because the music playing during Trump’s stem-winder sounded an awful lot like QAnon anthem  “WWG1WGA,” short for QAnon mantra “Where We Go One, We Go All” (and which Trump played as background music on a video he posted of himself on his Truth Social platform back in August).  Where are they all going? Right down the crapper, of course. But don’t tell them that. Cultists are always the last to know they are doomed. Just ask the Jonestown massacre Kool-Aid drinkers or purple-shroud-wearing Heaven’s Gaters, if you have a medium who can contact them on the other side of their mass suicides. Here’s the spooky video of the Trump/QAnon death pact in action from the same Ohio rally in which Trump also said GOP senate hopeful  J.D. Vance “is kissing my ass he wants my support so bad.” (Even Trump tells the truth on occasion.)

In case he was being too subtle, Trump has also “re-Truthed” this illustration on his ironically-named Truth Social.


There he is again with the WWG1WGA business, along with “The Storm is Coming,” yet another QAnon mantra. Just in case the point was lost (one suspects it takes a lot of these followers a while to sound out the two-syllable words), Trump is also wearing a “Q” lapel pin.

So…….let’s do something prosecutors and grand juries aren’t likely to do for Trump:  let’s take him at his word. He’s a bona fide Q-nutter now!

Leading us to believe one of two things:

Trump is insane.

Or Trump wants other insane people to believe he’s as insane as they are, to ratchet up tension, to put pressure on prosecutors who might fear civil war, or at least instances of violence. And to once again crown himself the Iceberg Slim of division-pimps.

Neither of these are attractive alternatives. Either of these are disqualifiers to again run for higher office – as if Trump needed another one of those after trying to overturn an election.  (Generally something we try to avoid doing here in free countries.)  They might even be disqualifiers from walking around without a straitjacket.

Of course, while these might be the most egregious displays of overt affection, this is hardly Trump’s first go-around with the Qballers, aside from them experiencing robust representation as January 6 congressional invaders on the heels of his “Stop the Steal” rally. As Vanity Fair’s Caleb Ecarma has reported:

While that “storm” still has yet to make landfall, QAnon is now experiencing a significant revival of sorts, thanks in large part to Trump’s full-throated embrace of the movement following the FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago last month. The Justice Department’s investigation into Trump’s mishandling of classified documents has breathed new life into the movement, with Truth Social, the former president’s social media platform, serving as a unique breeding ground for the group’s wildest claims yet. QAnon influencers have a symbiotic relationship with Trump: They pump up user activity on his app, where they can thrive without fear of suspension, while the former president disseminates their baseless theories to his millions of followers. Thus far, the platform’s administrators have given Q-aligned personalities an element of legitimacy and authority that eluded them on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. According to data compiled by NewsGaurd and reported by The Daily Beast, 47 QAnon-promoting accounts have received verification badges on Truth Social, each commanding more than 10,000 followers. Trump himself has promoted 70 pro-QAnon accounts and “retruthed”—the Truth Social equivalent of a retweet—dozens of Q-related posts amid new developments in the Justice Department investigation. In one 24-hour period last week, Trump shared 88 posts to his Truth Social accounts, at one point demanding to have his presidential title restored, writing, “Declare the rightful winner or, and this would be the minimal solution, declare the 2020 Election irreparably compromised and have a new Election, immediately!”

And calling Trump’s bonkers cult a death cult is not at all hyperbole. Let’s put aside the five people who died after the January 6th coup attempt.  As the Washington Post’s Philip Bump has aptly demonstrated, QAnon-inspired murders, committed by people who have lost their minds after mainlining this internet poison, are now actually racking up a body count.

Does Trump want civil war? Of course he does. Or at least he wants us to think that storm might be coming if he gets prosecuted. Which is about as cynical as it can possibly get for a man who just two years ago, was leader of the free world, and who seemingly wants to be again.

Does he want the body count? I can’t say. I’m not inside his head, thank God, or else I might start looking for Q-drops on 8kun. But he’s expressed zero remorse about the deaths that have occurred. So whether he actually welcomes death in his service is between Trump and his god (himself). Though it wouldn’t surprise me. Sacrificial propitiation is often deific validation, at least to duped believers.

Bonus Track: Color me skeptical that a civil war is coming. As I’ve written before: “It’s pretty difficult to believe Americans would grow so irate or radicalized that they’d change out of their pajama bottoms and take their finger off the Amazon-Prime order button long enough to head for the hills and eat hardtack (it’s not even gluten-free).”  However, if we do head that direction, we’ll  need good Civil War musical accompaniment.  I suggest Steve Earle’s “Dixieland.”  If you want to skip the chitchat of him explaining the song, the music starts around  the two-minute mark. It’s just Earle’s vocals, mandolin, and boot-kicking percussion. It almost makes me want to change out of my pajama bottoms and take up my musket:

Slack Tide by Matt Labash is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. Preferably paid, so as not to miss a single column, and to have full access to the archive and comments.


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