Consider how we got to that moment on Saturday night.
Trump spent the entirety of his presidency telling his followers that everything and everyone was fake except for him. He literally said as much in a 2018 speech.
The message was simple: Doubt everything. From small facts to big ones — including that the 2020 election was won by President Joe Biden fair and square.
Elites were always lying to you, always looking to make money or fame or power off of your back, according to Trump, the only way to fight back was to reject everything they told you to do or believe.
But see, the problem with the care and feeding of all those lies — the Big one and all the rest — is that the non-belief takes on a life of its own. People told that everything the government and the media say is a lie don’t have the ability — or the inclination — to differentiate. If the government and the media lied about the 2020 election (sidebar: They didn’t) then what wouldn’t they lie about?
What’s worse is that Trump has zero inclination to try to control the creature he has built. Look at exactly what he said on vaccines — both before and after he was booed:
“I believe totally in your freedoms, I do. But you got to do what you have to do, but I recommend, take the vaccines. I did it. It’s good. Take the vaccines, but you got … [BOOING] … No, that’s okay. That’s all right. You got your freedoms. But I happened to take the vaccine. If it doesn’t work, you’ll be the first to know, OK. I’ll call up Alabama and say, ‘Hey, you know what?’ But it is working. But you do have your freedoms. You have to keep, you have to maintain that. You have to maintain that.”
So, here’s what happens:
1. Trump says he recommends taking the vaccine
2. He gets booed
3. He says “you got your freedoms” while downplaying his own personal choice to get vaccinated (“I happened to take the vaccine.”)
4. He raises a question over whether the vaccine will work and then, again, says that people “have to maintain” their freedoms
What this shows is that Trump doesn’t have the inclination to try to control the monster he’s built — whether he could or not. He wants to hear cheers and applause, not booing. So rather than tell his people a hard truth they need to hear — vaccination is the only way out of the hell of the past 18 months — he soft-pedals his own decision to get the vaccine and makes sure people know he is on the side of their, um, freedoms.
Saturday night was the logical end of what Trump has worked to create. The monster Trump built no longer listens to him all the time. It has grown beyond his capacity to control it.
Analysis: Not even Donald Trump can control the monster he created