Trump calls the tune, and his fans dance

Donald Trump is a master. A master what? Well, liar, bully and fraud, for starters.

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Donald Trump campaign rally

Donald Trump, shown at a 2016 campaign rally in North Carolina, officially launches his re-election bid Tuesday night.

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You gotta dance with them what brung ya.

I’m not given to rustic turns of phrase, especially those including colloquialisms like “gotta,” “brung” or “ya.”

Yet there is truth here.

After — golly — four years of continually condemning Donald Trump as a liar, bully and fraud, I believe now, with his circus-like announcement Tuesday in Florida of his quest for a second term, is a good time to pause and give credit where due:

Donald Trump is a master.

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A master what? Well, liar, bully and fraud, for starters. Those who don’t see that by now never will. But that is a huge, unwavering group of Americans — tens of millions. Time to tip the hat and acknowledge something I have not previously recognized: what a good liar, bully and fraud Donald Trump really is.

A master of his craft, really. A genius. Begin with his skill as a liar. Democrats tote up his lies like some disturbed individual counting the passing cars, oblivious to the fact that the total doesn’t matter. Nearly half the country doesn’t care. Trump has rendered the truth un-important for his followers, and that is a feat I did not previously think possible. But obviously, tragically, it is.

How does he do it?

By force of personality. He can say one thing today, another in an hour, then contradict both the next day. Anyone rude enough to draw attention to this is attacked by himself and his crew of lackeys and bootlickers, who have sold their souls for access to his presence, not to forget our version of State TV, Fox News. The mushroom cloud of controversy forms with a “whump,” rises into the air, floats away and is forgotten. The past is a vapor, reality a dreamworld inhabited by losers. You can choose truth or you can choose Trump.

As for bullying, hate against immigrants, particularly Mexicans, were some of the first words uttered when Trump came down that escalator at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

That slur worked then and Trump obviously thinks it’ll work again next year. You gotta dance with them what brung you.

That is why Trump tweeted Monday: “Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.”

Will it? Anything Trump utters must be viewed through the lens of his continual lying.

Maybe ICE does. Maybe ICE doesn’t. Will the round-ups begin? If they do, they’ve lost the element of surprise. Maybe his aides will walk that statement back, along with the others, to dwell forever in limbo, in the Land of Forgotten Lies.

As for fraud. We never saw the tax returns, did we? Something hidden so vigorously has to be kept out of sight for a reason. Most candidates share theirs. But most candidates weren’t receiving money from the Russians, the safe bet here.

Taking money from a foreign power to betray your country’s interests. Maybe I’m showing my age, but I remember when the Republicans looked askance at that kind of thing. But now, lost in their Trump addiction, the GOP debases itself in ways that would shock its younger self. I remember seeing a streetwalker on Lower Kinzie once, wearing a strap t-shirt as a dress, staggering around, trying to flag down cars for drug money. It was only a glimpse, but it was like a vision of hell.

Tuesday’s rally must surpass it. Think of Mephistopheles singing “The Golden Calf” in the 2nd act of Gonoud’s “Faust,” the music whirling, the deluded genuflecting, the money floating down like confetti.

Must be fun. Those of us not under the Trump spell can only watch from a distance, our horror curdling into numbness and, today, a kind of aghast admiration. At the beginning of his quest for four more years, which — spoiler alert — he might very well get, I salute our president for the way he has so thoroughly bamboozled our beloved country.

That opening line, by the way, was made famous by Darrell Royal, head coach of the Texas Longhorns in the 1950s through the 1970s. He said it to a reporter who asked him about a line-up change. Look at me, quoting college football coaches. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures.

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