In late fall of 2019 Carl Hoffman spent months attending Trump rallies to see what it was like in the belly of the beast. He camped for days and nights in arena parking lots—52 hours at the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo, Mississippi, for instance, where he was sixth in line— falling in with a crew of people so in love with the rallies that they drove from one right on to the next, like Trumpkin Deadheads. It was in those long, intimate days and nights in the wind and cold that the superfans suffered for their hero, let down their hair, and conjured the wildest, most bizarre tales of Trumplandic fantasy. Herewith Chapter 12: HER PENIS IS SWINGING
In my first two rallies, in Minneapolis and Dallas, I’d arrived a day before only to find dozens of people already there. But I wanted to be a part of that original group, the most obsessive of the diehards, the first seeds of the mob. I parked my car in the sprawling, empty lot of the Bancorp South Arena in Tupelo, Mississippi, 51 hours before the next rally’s official start time. Two full days early. The air was humid and warm, a light drizzle falling from a gray sky, and beneath an overhang near the box office I found them: Richard Snowden sitting in a folding chair in a gray double-breasted suit, blue arrow-collared pinpoint Oxford, and purple tie, looking tanned and beaming; Rick Frazier and Richard Hardings in jeans and sweatshirts; Dave Thompson; a guy named Gene Huber, who’d driven up from Florida and had once been hugged by Trump, which had changed his life. “Hellooo!” called Snowden. “Congratulations! You are officially sixth in line!”
I had come prepared. I set up my camp chair, feeling amazed and nervous. I was deep behind enemy lines. But Snowden remembered the fact that I’d known the name of his D.C. strip joint, which gave me instant status. Cachet. I had pierced the inner sanctum of the Donald Trump superfans, and from that moment on I was a made man.
The rain fell and we huddled together beneath the overhang. I loved to hear Snowden talk; when he got going, he easily dominated. “I left Las Vegas on Friday for good and I’m now establishing a base in the east. Since I last saw you I decided I’m going to step up my game and sell more buttons, and this is what I’m going to do for the next year. I tried to get some rinky-dink retirement jobs in Vegas and supplement the nice income I’ve got, but it’s not what I’m used to. I can’t live on $5,000 a month, even with having no debt. My brother lives up in Hornell, New York, and after Lexington I’m going to go up there, visit him, set up base in his house for six weeks, visit my mother, visit my eight-year-old daughter with wife number six, and wait for the announcement for the next rally, which will probably be half a day’s drive away. Pennsylvania. Ohio. Virginia. Those are all three-quarters-of-a-day drive. I’ll probably be the most interesting character in your book. Many people say I ought to write my life story—politics, business, entertainment, and of course my history with women, we’re talking Liz Taylor proportions. I met all these famous people and I’m pretty good on dates. I can’t tell you if I made a right or left turn, but for some reason I can tell you the exact date of every presidential term. In other words, all presidents were not sworn in on January 20; up until 1937 they were sworn in on March 4. But what about the presidents that died in office and the vice president was sworn in on an odd date? For example, John Tyler succeeded William Henry Harrison—Harrison died on April 4 of 1841, so John Tyler was sworn in on April 4. Two presidents later, Zachary Taylor dies on July 9, and Millard Fillmore is sworn in on July 9. McKinley is shot on September 6, 1901, and dies on September 14, and Theodore Roosevelt rushes back from the Adirondacks and he’s sworn in that afternoon on September 14. I trained my mind that way. I learned all the presidents as a young kid. I know all the presidents in order and the exact times they served.”
“What about FDR?” I said.
“Well, he died on April 12, 1945, so Truman was sworn in at 7:08 in the evening in the White House. Of course, that kind of mind helped me in business. I’m like the Rain Man. Most people don’t know shit. Young kids today can’t even make change from the store. God forbid you give them two dimes to even it off. It fucks them up, they look at you and don’t know what to do because of the machine. As a result of learning that as a young kid I developed a head for numbers and later in life selling insurance out of college and then that helped me when I got in the nightclub business and had gobs and gobs of money.
“We’re getting away with murder tonight!” he said, nodding to our overhang, which was right next to a bathroom left unlocked for us.
Toward 7:00 p.m., the last game of the World Series started, and Snowden pulled it up on his phone. “Carl, the Nats are going to win. I’m sitting on a losing ticket in my pocket for Houston to win the World Series. Only 125 bucks. People say to me, Rick, for a man who once bet what you bet—5,000, 10,000, 20,000, whatever—how can you get any joy out of such a small bet? I say it’s the idea of competitiveness and just because you don’t bet a big amount of money it’s still fun to have something on the game and a reason to really watch it. Once I won $30,000 on a $33,000 bet. True.”
There was a pause as everyone checked their phones and stared into space for a bit, then someone brought up politics. “What we see today with the opposition, it’s terrible,” Snowden said. “The divisiveness, the lack of respect for the office. I didn’t like Obama, but I never publicly or on a Facebook post called him names, for Christ’s sake. Or said that Michelle is a guy. We think she probably was or is, but I don’t say that publicly, only in private.”
“Wait, what?” I said. “Michelle Obama is a guy?”
“Obama has referred to her as Michael three or four times,” Dave Thompson said. “I mean who would ever slip up their wife’s name?”
“What about their children?” I said. “I mean they look just like them.”
“No, they’re not their children,” Snowden said. “They’re not! No one’s tracked down who those children really are. There’s not one picture with her pregnant. I’ve got pictures of me with my fifth wife—with Trump!—and she’s pregnant. She’s pregnant with my youngest son, he’s 13 and that was 2006, February 24, we were at Mar-a-Lago for a New York State Republican fundraiser—I’ve been friends for 51 years now with Joe Bruno [the former New York State majority leader]. We posed with Trump, and my wife is pregnant. But there’s not one picture of Michelle pregnant. Where are the pictures of Michelle pregnant with either one of those kids? Doesn’t exist.”
“Tell him about her dancing on the thing with her penis swinging.”
“She was on Ellen,” said Thompson.
“She’s dancing and there’s a loose thing in her pants and the penis is swinging and I’m serious.”
“We’ve all heard Obama say ‘Michael.’”
“You know that, right, Carl? They’ve analyzed her body type. Her shoulders and biceps and skeletal structure is a man. And the one finger on a man, I can’t remember which one it is, is longer than the other and on a woman it’s shorter, you’ve heard that, right? The ring finger on a man is a little shorter and that’s how hers is.”
“C’mon!” I said. “That’s crazy!”
“In my opinion the jury is out. I’d like to have her take her pants down one way or the other. But there’s no picture of her pregnant with those kids. There are allegations that those kids were adopted at an early age for coverage and they got paid handsomely. You don’t think Obama was the Manchurian candidate? Where did this guy come from? How was he so protected by the media? This guy used to hang out in gay bathhouses in Chicago and his part-time lover came forward and had a press conference and it got scant coverage. He talked about doing coke and giving Obama a blowjob and it just never got coverage. The guy held a press coverage and it was on YouTube! And it wasn’t a phony press conference. This guy exists.”
“Carl, just look. The Ellen show with Michelle. Like minute five or something.”
I took my phone out, Googled “Michelle and Ellen DeGeneres dancing,” and it popped right up. A normal show, with Michelle Obama and Ellen laughing and talking, and then they started dancing to “Uptown Funk.” I looked. Played it again. I looked more closely. I didn’t see a penis. I didn’t see anything, not a lump or pants crease or shadow that someone with an imagination might think was a penis. “I don’t see it,” I said. “I don’t see any penis.”
“Oh c’mon!” Snowden said.
“There!” he shouted. “Right there! Minute five-oh-seven; it’s right there flapping.”
“Okay,” I said. I watched it again. Watched minute five a couple of times. “I’m sorry,” I said. “But I just don’t see anything.”
“You probably think Oswald did it by himself,” Snowden said.
“Bush Senior was in on it,” Thomson said.
“Oh, I believe that,” Snowden said. “There’s a picture of him outside the depository.”
“Junior was in on 9/11,” said Thompson.
“Oh, I believe that, too.”
“You’ve seen the pictures of George Bush outside the depository, right?” said Snowden. “You can Google it and they did the body analysis there, too. He’s in the same stance and the same style of clothing with Nixon a half a dozen years later. And they showed the ears, the stance, the face, the style of dress, the feet, only it’s a younger George H. Bush.”
“Okay,” said Thompson, looking at his phone. “U.S. armored vehicles are heading into Syria. Did Trump play those bastards? You know he just suckered al-Baghdadi into believing we were leaving and then boom took him out. He’s always working two tracks, got something up his sleeve. He’s ahead of everyone.”
From LIAR’S CIRCUS: A Strange and Terrifying Journey into the Upside-Down World of Trump’s MAGA Rallies, by Carl Hoffman. Copyright © 2020 by Carl Hoffman. To be published on Sept. 1 , 2020, by Custom House. Reprinted by permission.