Kid Rock, Trump, and telling it like it is

A couple weeks back, Kid Rock sat down with Tucker Carlson and explained what he liked about Donald Trump.

(Side note: If you don’t feel embarrassed during the frequent camera cuts to Carlson erupting in mock laughter or gaping in mock astonishment, your constitution is stronger than mine.)

“[Trump] speaks off the cuff,” Kid said. “I understand what it’s like. Sometimes you get it wrong. But I would way rather hear somebody come from here [slaps his heart] and get it wrong once in a while than see this contrived – pretty much every politician until he came along at some level, everything was scripted. So I liked him from the beginning.”

Massive minimization (“Sometimes you get it wrong”), cute evasion (“Sometimes you get it wrong“), and false equivalence (contrived = scripted) aside, Kid Rock is right.

Trump is authentic. He tells it like it is. Sure, the “is” isn’t based on facts, but it feels more honest than a fact-based or purportedly fact-based script. Trump’s words are based on how he feels.

In some basic, pre-rational sense that most of us respond to, and as head-spinningly counter-intuitive as it is to say so, Trump is honest. Meaning, he’s true to his feelings.

So much for feelings.

Kid Rock was on Fox News to promote his latest work. He’s a full generation past his sell-by date, which hollows out the brags about his don’t-give-a-fuck attitude and bromides against cancel culture. But I was curious about what he was up to these days. His latest is a single called “We the People.” Here’s the gist:

We the people in all we do

Reserve the right to scream

Fuck you

“Wear your mask,

take your pills”

Now a whole generation’s

mentally ill

Man, fuck Fauci

He sends other constitutionally protected fuck yous to Facebook, Twitter, CNN, TMZ, social media trolls, and, inevitably, to Biden, who’s honored at the close with a sampled, full-throated chorus of Let’s go Brandons.

But here’s what’s weird. Right before he says fuck you to the President, Kid shouts this:

If you down with love

and wanna make things better

All we gotta do is

just come together

Weather the storm

and take my hand

Then follow my lead

to the promised land

I won’t pretend to understand what the promised land is to Kid Rock, or to explain the logical violence of the genuine anger at the fuck you targets and the Let’s go Brandons sandwiching this kumbaya-vibe direct appeal.

Kid’s fans seem to like him for the same reasons Kid likes Trump: He’s authentic. But authenticity for adults is about more than being true to their feelings. For politicians who give a damn about facts, scripts exist to help them stick to what’s thought to be true. For the 99% who don’t have immediate command of the facts and who care about them, scripts are necessary. I would guess that what made so many instantly suspicious of Hillary Clinton was her dependence on scripts and the obviousness of that dependence. She didn’t seem authentic. She was transparently scripted. And, to state the obvious, she consulted her scripts for self-serving as well as ethical reasons.

To the millions who instinctively distrusted Clinton, Trump was and is a breath of fresh air. He isn’t scripted. But he isn’t scripted because he doesn’t care about facts. Like 100% of the human race, he cares about his feelings. The difference is that he deliberately and consistently lets his feelings dictate his speech. No matter if his feelings are rooted in fear, nurtured by ignorance, watered by hatred; they are his, and they are real.

In this sense, Trump is honest. He’s real. If he weren’t a public figure with considerable power, this bottomless feeling-faith wouldn’t be worth a mention, and neither would Kid Rock’s affection for him. But here we are: a past-his-prime rapper gets airtime on the country’s most popular news & opinion show because he’s friends with a powerful figure with the emotional maturity of an undisciplined 13-year-old. That too is telling it like it is.

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