Man of 1000 Faces vs. . . .

Published: April 26, 2024

By Jim Lichtman
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Silent movie legend Lon Chaney was known as the “Man of a Thousand Faces.” So convincing was Cheney—who developed and applied his own makeup—he could disappear into roles from the “Phantom of the Opera” to “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and the cross-dressing old woman from “The Unholy Three.”

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Donald Trump only needs three to convince his base: the enthusiastic conman on the stump doing his “fist” dance, the arrogant conman walking into the courthouse waving his fist, and the immensely challenging, persecuted victim face (no fist).

For Trump disciples, there are two forms of worship: Trump on the cross and Trump walking on water.

Regardless, Donald Trump has proven up for the challenge. Look how he communicates disdain, silently sitting in a courtroom without a single word or special makeup (except his signature, “Orange is the new skin tone”). Just one look communicates so much to his people: contempt for the judge, contempt for the jurors, contempt for the prosecution, and contempt for the media. Even his jowls suggest fury. That’s acting!

And his nuanced dead stare scorn for first witness National Inquirer publisher David Pecker, is Meryl Streep perfect. And Pecker isn’t shabby either, playing Shakespeare’s Falstaff as he describes meetings between himself, Trump, and Trump fixer, Michael Cohen hatching schemes to protect Trump’s election campaign. Promising to be Trump’s “eyes and ears” for any potentially damaging story, Pecker is smiling and laughing at some of his own remarks.

But Trump’s contemptible behavior has been on display for the last several years:

When the Trump Organization was found guilty of tax fraud in January 2023 and fined $1.6 million.

When writer E. Jean Carroll (verdict number 1) won her case for sexual abuse, Trump was ordered to pay $5 million.

In Carroll Part 2, Trump was ordered to pay $83.3 million for defaming her. Insurance giant Chubb, posted a bond for $91.6 million to cover interest payments during appeals. (No wonder my Chubb homeowners insurance increased!)

When the Trump organization was found guilty of civil business fraud, he was ordered to pay a fine somewhat north of $450 million. Trump’s contempt was evident when he had to post a bond for the entire amount. Luckily, it was lowered to $175, and Knight Specialty Insurance paid. (Billionaire Trump supporter Don Hankey owns Knight Insurance.)

In the wings:

The classified documents case where Trump took documents from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, stored them in places like his bathroom, then declared them unclassified by just thinking about it.

The Georgia 2020 election interference case in which Trump’s own voice is heard telling Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger—who’s a Republican and voted for Trump in the election—”I just want to find, uh, 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.”

Arizona election official Rusty Bowers was similarly pressured by Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to unilaterally call legislators back into session to hold a hearing regarding rumors of election fraud. No evidence of fraud was ever found. Republican Bowers also voted for Trump.

But far and away, the most significant case against Trump is his participation in the January 6 attack on the Capitol building. Many of his supporters sitting in prison have testified that they came to the Capitol at Trump’s request by text message.

(It’s important to remember that all four indictments against the former president were brought by four separate grand juries composed of 16-23 citizens selected randomly from voter registrations and other sources: the Georgia election inference case, the January 6 case, the classified documents case, and the falsified records case involving Stormy Daniels. Prosecutors present the evidence. A grand jury determines whether to indict.)

However, I do admire Trump’s stamina to sit for hours and hours, for weeks, perhaps months in court, dancing at rallies, dancing at special weekend events at his Xanadu palace in Florida, all while tap dancing around all the legal mess he’s created for himself. And we can only watch the utter shame he brings upon the country.


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