DJT: Another “Face in the Crowd”

Remember that post not long ago when I said breaking the abstinence from caffeine was not a good thing?

Well, I should have read my own blog about it.

It’s just my head hurt so badly in the early part of last evening. It’s not hurting now, but I am both exhausted and too wired to sleep.  Caffeine trumps whatever meds I take at night to help the sleep process.

Speaking of Trump, I saw the perfect movie that presaged the power of television to raise a glib con artist to the heights of fandom.

You can count on TCM to have an old movie to fit every modern occasion.

This one was “A Face in the Crowd,” a 1957 feature with Andy Griffith and Patricia Neal.

Neal’s character, a patrician Southern girl whose father owns a radio station, among other media marvels, turns a down on his heels but slick talking jail bird and drifter into a real life radio sensation and more.

His slickness is wrapped in corn pone, but the thrall with which “Lonesome Rhodes” holds his audience has just as much fervor as Trump at one of his eternal campaign rallies shouting “Who is going to build the Wall?”

Rhodes is quickly hustled from small town radio stardom to the bright lights of New York prime time television, with generals and politicians eager to capitalize on his audience connection to package their vision so that the “little people” buy it because they trust in Rhodes as the seller.

The only problem is, the higher Rhodes’s  trajectory in the firmament of fame, the more abusive he is to those around him.  He relies more and more on what he alone believes “sells” and less and less on the more experienced surrounding him.

Finally, his absolute contempt for everyone -including the audience that adores him – is on full display. The latter find out when his creator, Neal’s character Marcia, allows him to be heard on air berating and belittling all those avidly tuned in to hear him.

You see, they were never people to Rhodes…just a ratings number he gloated over each time it rose.

Even after his huckster shtick is exposed and all the rich and powerful desert him, Rhodes believes he can still get the “little people” to believe in him again by telling them a lie. He will regain his power and then he will destroy the sound engineer he mistakenly thought to blame for the on- air “reveal.”

For every Trump moment, there seems to be a TCM movie moment that captured it before it happened. We could even call this one a “McCabe” moment.

Last week, Donald Trump lied about lying to Justin Trudeau.  And his supporters believed it and paid a high price per plate to hear it at a fundraiser.

I suggest those people watch “A Face in the Crowd.” There’s a similar tale on TV nightly news right now, and they are co-starring in it.

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