Leaving his cartoonish public policy statements aside, I am most irked when Donald Trump is praised for his authenticity, his telling it like it is. What is true about Trump is he says things that give voice to the fear, anger and resentment of many Americans, including an irritation with liberal P. C.ism, which I share. However, that is not telling it like it is, it is telling his audience what they want to hear.
Trump burst on to the political scene about four years ago by grabbing the Obama birther issue and trumping it up, saying he had investigators on the case, who never were revealed, nor were their supposed “interesting” findings. No matter, the Donald kept telling it like it wasn’t because it got him the attention he craves. He has woven an alternate reality that many have bought into.
As with the birther issue, so much of what Donald says “is”, isn’t. To make clearer Trump’s inauthenticity let’s contrast him with Mark Cuban, fellow billionaire and reality TV figure and as prone to controversial statements. Owner of the Dallas Mavericks among various very successful enterprises, he reportedly has paid over $2,000,000 in fines to the NBA for things he shouldn’t have said.
Who does Cuban sound like in this on-line bio? “Online and off, Cuban is an unfiltered force of opinion, a bombastic personality among the rather stodgy inner circle of NBA ownership. He made waves when he referred to Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault case as “great for the NBA. It’s reality television, people love train-wreck television, and you hate to admit it, but that is the truth, that’s the reality today”.
One big difference is Trump started with money and Cuban did not. Trump often acts like he is an exemplar of the Horatio Alger story, turning a mere million his dad fronted him into billions. In contrast Cuban’s father worked most of his life in a car upholstery shop while at the age of 12, Mark “sold sets of garbage bags to save up for a pair of shoes he liked.”
I watched Cuban interviewed on the Smerconish show on CNN last Saturday morning and was struck by his authenticity in comparison with Trump’s created pseudo self. Cuban was initially a backer of Trump but changed his mind when he realized the Donald was not willing to constantly learn more about the issues, to “really dig in.” To paraphrase Cuban: The presidency is nuanced and the only certainty is uncertainty. If you are not willing to read and learn and dig into the issues it doesn’t make sense to back you.
He expressed this to Trump several months ago, their last direct communication. Apparently Trump doesn’t welcome straight talk. At the end of July Cuban endorsed Hillary Clinton at a rally. By the way, another difference between Cuban and Trump is he thinks “the American dream is alive and well.”
At the end of the interview, given his own success in business, Cuban was asked if he might consider the presidency some day, which made him laugh. “Just the opposite.” To paraphrase again: There is so little focus on policy or programs or getting results in these campaigns, why would I want to get into that quagmire. “There is no there there.”
To me, Donald Trump’s primary contribution to our present politics has been to wipe away much of what little “there” is left.
Once again, authenticity is saying what you think, not what your audience wants to hear. I find Cuban authentic, just the opposite of Donald Trump. You can decide for yourself by going here.
NOTE: The interview is about 23 minutes long, so make it a lunch break or at least bring a drink with you or make plans to watch it in spurts. Hey, it’s 2016. Who has the time?
P. S. – Smerconish has become my favorite political chat show. He was a Republican for years but is now an independent, liberal on some issues conservative on others, which is how he views Mark Cuban and how I view myself.