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Trump at CPAC: Former president keeps the big lie going and going and going | COMMENTARY

Supporters cheer and wave as former President Donald Trump is introduced at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, in Orlando, Florida. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Supporters cheer and wave as former President Donald Trump is introduced at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, in Orlando, Florida. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (John Raoux/AP)

One hour into his rambling, grievance-filled speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday night, former President Donald Trump had his big moment. He had already said multiple times that he won the 2020 presidential election but that it was stolen from him. Now, however, he uttered the magical, dumbed-down catchphrase that his audience wanted to hear.

“The election was rigged,” he shouted, and the crowd rose to its feet to give him a standing ovation. And then as he posed and beamed amid the applause like the late fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, the audience started to chant: “You won. You won. You won.”

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“We did,” he replied.

“What happened in 2020 must never be allowed to happen again,” he said at one point. “Such a disgrace, such a disgrace, such a disgrace. ... They used COVID as a way of cheating.”

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They, of course, are the Democrats, or, in the language of his speech Sunday, “radical, socialist Democrats,” who he promised were taking us to the brink of communism.

When he read from the teleprompter, it appeared that the speech was supposed to be an attack on President Joe Biden’s first weeks in office. And there was plenty of that. But he seemed incapable of staying on track anytime the script wandered into his election loss in November. And, for the record, contrary to the innumerable lies he told about it Sunday at CPAC in Orlando, Florida, Mr. Trump did lose. And, furthermore, every court to which he and his allies took their claims of voter fraud rejected them.

Listening to lie after lie Sunday, I wondered how I survived four years of writing about his media appearances two and three times a week without my head exploding. After a while, it becomes almost impossible to think straight amid all the misinformation, disinformation, innuendo and slurs. My head is pounding as I write.

Mr. Trump has not gained an ounce of humility or even self-awareness from his defeat or the death of five people in connection with an insurrection Jan. 6 that he instigated. This was Trump in rally mode as reckless with the truth and, therefore, as dangerous as ever to democracy as he told the audience he is going to fight the “radical, socialist” Democrats in the 2022 midterms and maybe, just maybe, he will deign to be the Republican candidate who leads the party back into the White House in 2024.

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David Zurawik is The Baltimore Sun’s media critic. Email: david.zurawik@baltsun.com; Twitter: @davidzurawik

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