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schifferbrains

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

[Daniel] Richards is pitch-perfect. He enters wrestling halls in small towns in states like Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky to boos and jeers, dressed in a horrific shirt emblazoned all over with Hillary Clinton's face. The 6-foot-5, 37-year-old then harangues crowds with choice barbs culled from the fairly tepid liberalism that courses through his veins as an ordinary sane person. In Trump country, particularly in coal regions, even kindly telling people you hope they get jobs in clean energy comes across like hardcore aggression. read more


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"It's hard to overstate Trump's fascination with wrestling. He has performed as himself (the ultrarich boss) in World Wrestling Entertainment appearances at least eight times, enough to earn him a place in the W.W.E. Hall of Fame. In a Battle of the Billionaires, he pretended to pound wrestling kingpin Vince McMahon, and then celebrated his victory by publicly shaving McMahon's head in front of the cheering throng. He also dropped thousands of dollars in cash into the audience of screaming fans. Now he has appointed the former CEO of W.W.E., Linda McMahon (Vince's wife), to his Cabinet as the head of the Small Business Administration (a detail that has largely been lost amid the daily scandals).

Like The Apprentice, Trump's side career in pro wrestling exposed and endeared him to a massive audience -- in stadiums, on TV, and online. Pro wrestling might be invisible as a cultural force to most liberal voters, but W.W.E. generated $729 million in revenue last year. And Trump did more than pick up votes from this experience -- he also picked up tips.

As Matt Taibbi pointed out in Rolling Stone, Trump's entire campaign had a distinctly W.W.E. quality. He carefully nurtured feuds with other candidates, and handed out insulting nicknames (Little Marco, Lyin' Ted). He played ringmaster at his own rallies, complete with over-the-top insult-chants ("Killary," "Lock her up!"), and directed the crowd's rage at the designated villains: journalists and demonstrators. Outsiders would emerge from these events shaken, not sure what had just happened. What had happened was a cross between a pro-wrestling match and a white-supremacist rally."
-Naomi Klein

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