Salvo 04.19.2024 5 minutes

President Milkshake


They can bankrupt or jail their enemies, but that will never legitimate their corrupt regime.

After the first day of his show trial, Donald Trump cheered himself up by taking a trip uptown to a Harlem bodega. The Sanaa Convenient Store, on Broadway at 139th Street, was the site of a notorious robbery in 2022, during which the 61-year old clerk—while being beaten up by an angry patron—stabbed and killed his assailant. Jose Alba, the clerk, was hailed as a hero by most New Yorkers, except the one who decided to arrest and charge him with murder: District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the same man currently prosecuting Trump for allegedly falsifying business records.

Though Bragg—ever amenable to pressure—dropped the charges against Alba, the case resonated as an example of the anarcho-tyranny that governs many large American cities. Crime in Manhattan, according to Bragg and his champions, is “down,” but the lived experience of the average subway rider or shopper or pedestrian says otherwise. There may be fewer arrests, but public safety remains dicey.

Which is why the Bodega and Small Business Group invited Trump to visit the site where a fellow victim of Alvin Bragg ran afoul of the Progressive narrative. Trump’s semi-impromptu trip was met by a crowd of local residents who—spontaneously, by all accounts—crowded the barriers and shouted their admiration for the beleaguered candidate. “We love you, Trump!”; “U.S.A.!”; “Four more years!” and other exclamations continued while the former president spoke with the owner and employees of the store.

The reaction from New York’s political class was muted and scornful. Assemblyman Kenny Burgos of the Bronx posted, “the Harlem I know would never allow this,” which begged the question of how well Burgos knows Harlem. Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine groused, “In his 70 years living in NYC Trump probably never went to a bodega once. And almost certainly never went to 139th & Broadway.” Congressman Adriano Espaillat—who boasts about having once been an illegal immigrant—grumpily tweeted, “Trump has no place in my district.”

Jealous much? It goes without saying that Burgos, Levine, and Espaillat would never be recognized if they entered a Manhattan bodega, much less cheered. And if it happened that someone knew who they were, they wouldn’t care.

But the same goes, not just for New York City politicians, who are a dismal bunch of hacks—a huge proportion of them were staffers for their predecessors—but virtually every politician in America. Name one other viable candidate for office, at any level of politics, who would spontaneously attract a sidewalk crowd of excited Manhattanites—or any Americans, really—to scream and shout their love for him.

Certainly we don’t see it for the broken, musty puppet currently inhabiting the Oval Office, and supposedly campaigning for re-election. Biden’s handlers steered him into a Philadelphia WaWa the day after Trump’s Harlem visit, and video shows the most powerful man in the world staggering through a choreographed charade of buying himself—just himself—a milkshake.

Biden’s supposed charisma and small-town appeal was on display in his “hometown” of Scranton on April 16, the same day Trump went to Harlem. Biden appeared at a local community center to deliver his “populist” message to a crowd of reporters and a few dozen handpicked locals, who showed up in their best outfits to attend to their President’s drowsy, insincere ramblings about billionaires. As always, the hall size was minimized with artfully placed drapes to create the sense—for close-up pictures, anyway—of a crowd.

But of course, there is no crowd. Not even people who like Biden want to show up to his events. They look like torture. Imagine having to get there hours early and go through security only to listen to the fantasies and lies of a senile old man who never did anything but eat your tax money.

Biden believes that when people don’t like him it reflects badly on Trump and his supporters. “I’ve never thought I’d see a sign, when I’m going through a neighborhood or a rural town in the West,” he admonished a gathering this week, “and I see big signs that have a Trump sign, and in the middle it says, ‘F— Biden,’ and having a little kid, standing with his middle finger, seven or eight years old. Well, I promise, it happens all the time. It’s not who we are.”

Biden is so mired in denial and self-regard that he believes his personal unpopularity is a sign of national moral decay. But if it’s true that a little boy was giving President Biden the finger as his motorcade was zooming though some fentanyl-poisoned rural town, then that alone encourages my faith in the future of America.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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