There are in Trump's November victory many lessons, of which a major one is: never underestimate the power of fear.
A lot of the variations of fear were present. Among them were the fear of coal miners in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia losing their jobs upon election of a president from the party committed to environmentalism and combatting climate change; of crime running rampant because of blacks and immigrants; of terrorism committed by refugees fleeing a civil war; of immigrants who might want the chance to vote, benefit from the social safety net, and even (Lord forbid!) become Americans; and of a female president succeeding a black president and gosh, when are we ever going to get another white male president?
And thus I believe it is more than a standard Kellyanne Conway lie when
In a wide-ranging interview Sunday at her home in Alpine, where she lives with her husband and their four children, Conway, who managed Trump’s presidential campaign before taking the job as one of the president's closest advisers, suggested that the alleged monitoring of activities at Trump’s campaign headquarters at Trump Tower in Manhattan may have involved far more than wiretapping.
“What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other,” Conway said as the Trump presidency marked its 50th day in office during the weekend. “You can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets — any number of ways.”
Conway went on to say that the monitoring could be done with “microwaves that turn into cameras,” adding: “We know this is a fact of modern life.”
Steve M. points out that when on Monday's "Good Morning America" Conway stated "Of course I don't have any evidence for those allegations, and that answer has nothing to do with what the president said last week," her "faux-offended response" was meant for general consumption, not for consumption by the fan base." He adds
The fan base now believes that one or more of the surveillance techniques mentioned by Conway was actually used to surveil Trump. If Conway were to tell an interviewer that a person of Valerie Jarrett's approximate height, weight, age and physical condition could have rappelled into Donald Trump's office on the 26th floor of Trump Tower and personally placed a monitoring device in Trump's taco bowl, the deplorables would believe that literally happened. Conway would then go on a national news program and huffily insist that she was merely suggesting that such a thing could have happened to a random person somewhere in the world in theory.
But there was an additional purpose, revealed by Conway's remark "we know this is a fact of modern life" that "you can surveil someone... any number of ways." When she adds "I wasn't making a suggestion about Trump Tower. Those are two separate things," she wants to make sure that as many people as possible believe it could happen to them and their loved ones. "It was about surveillance generally," she told CNN's Chris Cuomo Monday morning.
It's about fear. In an otherwise disappointing episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver on Sunday addresed this claim (beginning at approximately 4:15 of the video below). He noted
But if you read the document, you'll find this program applies to Samsung TVs from 2012 to 2013 and the malware was installed by USB, so presumably the CIA needed to stick that physically into your TV and even if that happened, experts advise there is a way of circumventing it. It's a little complicated so I will walk your way through it. Step 1: Unplug the TV and that is it, end of steps; you're off the grid.
Be very afraid. Republican strategist Rick Wilson, a Never-Trumper who ran Evan McMullin's presidential campaign last fall, told Molly Ball "When people are under stress, the hind brain takes over... Fear of Mexicans, fear of the Chinese, fear of African Americans- Donald Trump has very deliberately stoked it and inflamed it and made it a centerpiece of his campaign."
That was in late summer but Trump has governed as he campaigned, and Conway's lies- such as her three references to the legendary "Bowling Green massacre"- neatly fit the narative. "You’ve seen what happened in Paris, and Nice. All over Europe, it’s happening," the boss stated on February 6. Two weeks later he would continue the theme with "We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?”
Probably quite a few people, but that is probably unnecessary. Repeat, frighten, repeat: after a while, any action by Daddy Trump in the name of "safety" or "security" may be accepted by the American people.