…the leader slow-walks toward us, fist pumping slowly, with that trademark ponderous tread of his (dating back at least to his boardroom entrances in The Apprentice), adjusts the mike, leans slightly sideways, and lances into it all with a stark declaration: “We brought you a lot of car plants, Michigan! We brought you a lot of car plants. You know that, right?”
Comes in prompt response the ear-splitting roar of affirmation, clear as clear can be: Yes, Mr. President, we know that! A joyful knowledge, a knowledge to celebrate: all those jobs in all those car plants! But what exactly is it possible to know about those car plants? I could not have been the only one in that obstreperous crowd, made up overwhelmingly of Michiganders, to know the presumably important fact that, well…those car plants didn’t exist. Any member in good standing of the ancient “reality-based community” could have told you that since the coming of Trump no new car plants had been built in Michigan, that since his ascension not less than three thousand Michiganders had lost jobs in the vital auto sector.
Perhaps it wasn’t Trump’s fault, but it was a fact. But what was a fact exactly?
He had promised Michigan new car plants and within the chilly expanse of his own mind he had delivered. And the roar of worshipful approbation meant that he had carried these thousands of souls to that place with him. “Dang!” a sweatshirted middle-aged woman told me afterward as we waited in line to buy hot dogs and lemonade. “I had no idea he had done so much for the state! I mean, people hardly even talk about it…” She was a nurse, trained in anatomy, physiology, biology—science, that is to say. But to her the president’s word was Truth; the idea that “people hardly even talk about” the car plants because they don’t exist was not only heretical but inconceivable. She couldn’t conceive it and neither could the thousands of others shouting around me.
New York Review of Books
The Con He Rode In On
Why do people hardly even talk about all the car plants Donald Trump has brought to Michigan?