Hillary’s Character is Questionable, but Trump is Worse. Much Worse.

(NOTE:  This is a particularly long post.  You might want to grab a drink before reading it, or put it off to when you have a few extra minutes.)

I’m not all that religious but at this point I have to wonder whether God is going to punish us with a Trump presidency.  While I have thought the election would be tighter than the polls had been showing, I felt that Hillary would win.  In a battle of two questionable characters – or as Michael Gerson puts it “one candidate stale and tainted, the other “vapid and vile” – I, like Gerson, see Trump as worse.   Much worse.

Since he announced his bid for the presidency, Trump has always had the advantage of offering something new and different to a people who are tired of the same ‘ol same ‘ol and who give no weight to how complex things are these days, i. e. there are no easy answers to any major problem because the interconnectivity of the world has grown so great.

Even I who can’t stand this childish, vindictive man am attracted to his being something  interesting and really different.  Even if awful, a Trump presidency would be really different.  And no doubt interesting, unless it reaches the point of scaring us to death.

We must understand that our political values have been infiltrated and made subservient to those of entertainment.  That is the undercurrent that has propelled Donald the reality TV star into his present position.  Potentially the first TV reality president.  In the world of entertainment sensational is very good and boring is very bad.   And Donald J. Trump regularly makes news saying something sensational (often outrageous), while he is seldom boring except when momentarily following a script devised by others to make him seem less dangerous.

Given the wide spread hunger for change the big question is how many voters out there have been waiting for a sufficient excuse to go with the “vapid and vile” danger man Trump over the “stale and tainted”  and boring Hillary (the degree of the taint is debatable, but she is no Bernie Sanders).  Now that FBI director Comey has decided to reopen an investigation on Hillary, those hidden Trumpsters might have the excuse they’ve been longing for.

With the election only a week away the Comey probe, no matter how unsubstantial  it may prove to be later, may turn out the straw that breaks Hillary’s back.  I can imagine some in those private voting booths thinking:  What the hell.  Let’s take a chance on the business man who is a proven winner.  Let’s shake things up in Washington.

The thought of having a hand in big changes gets the blood going, doesn’t it?  In such a situation one’s vote really feels like it counts.  Voting for the possibility of incremental improvement can’t hold a candle to that when it comes to enthusiasm.

Someone summed up Trump’s followers as wanting to punch Washington in the face.  And no one represents Washington more than Hillary, the ultimate insider.  I share the sentiment at times but for President Trump it would be his golden rule.

He would get involved in a number of fights with just about everyone, but besides making many of his followers feel good about his taking down those big wigs a peg or two, what’s that going to solve?   Who’s that going to help?   Who will be willing to work with him?  He will be an elected president, not an elected dictator or monarch, unless things really go awry.

Sure Washington is a classic example of SNAFU (a military acronym for  “situation normal all …..”    you know the rest.)  But the idea that Donald Trump will be able to fix anything is sheer fantasy.  It is clear from studying his past that his primary drive has been to get attention, or aiming higher “adoration” as the conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer has put it.   Trump has been amazingly successful at that, but tell me the last president who has been adored by a majority of Americans for more than a few days here and there, if ever.  At various times they were all vilified by the press and much of the public.

Does anyone believe Trump will handle vilification well?

Along with Trump’s genius for getting attention goes a blister-thin skin which prompts him to strike back at anyone who criticizes him.  He views every caustic comment as life threatening.  Since he has a complete disregard for the truth, he doesn’t mind lying in his defense and then telling bigger lies to defend his previous ones or to distract us from the original issues.

After a number of women came forth (11 at my last count) to say Trump did to them what Trump bragged he did to women on those Access Hollywood tapes, he first said he didn’t know any of them, and when it was proven he had known at least two, he called them all liars.  To take attention away from their accusations he dismissed them as agents of a media conspiracy against him, which grew to international proportions including bankers and anyone else profiting from the present rigged system that Trump promises to do away with.

I am the Donald hear me roar.  Drowning out all efforts to hold him accountable for anything.

We don’t have enough press to disprove all the B. S.  that he and his surrogates, which I like to think of as minions, churn out and perpetuate daily.   A special shout out to you Kellyanne Conway, Trump handler in chief, to the extent you can, and the whirling dervish of political spin.

Trump as president would spend much of his time counter attacking all those who would criticize or challenge him while contriving all sorts of falsehoods about them.   Worst of all to me are those falsehoods pumped up to full blown conspiracies.  Since he has absolutely no regard for the truth, he would not hesitate to make up conspiracies or develop baseless attacks as he did with such success to his primary opponents, e. g. “lying” Ted the Canadian with a father who might have been involved in the Jack Kennedy assassination.

Trump saw that last implication in The National Enquirer, obviously a source as trusted as the slab with the 10 commandments.

In short, while all politicians pollute our national discourse (such as it is) with the way they spin events to make themselves look good and their opponents bad, Trump is the biggest polluter of all, the coal industry of political pollution.

Years from now many  of our descendants will still believe President Obama was born in Kenya because Trump created his political career spewing that lie often for about five years.  The Republicans welcomed any attack on Obama, and the press never forced the issue, allowing much of the public to believe it and teaching Trump how easy it can be to create a false reality and convince others of its validity.

How many other grand lies would the presidency give Trump the opportunity to foment and infest us like a virus?   Until the notion of truth itself loses the little meaning it has left in politics.

 


P. S. – I can imagine a Trump supporter pointing out that several weeks ago Trump indeed did state that Obama was born in the United States, a one sentence statement tucked into a Trump rally late that he conned the press into covering like a major announcement.

To continue the coal analogy, five years of spewing coal dust all about and then in one sentence he tells the truth and acts as if all the damage done had been rectified, as if he were a pope announcing an encyclical.   That was the truth then.  This is the truth now.

Or to try another analogy, there is Trump on the front page accusing  Obama of lying about his birthplace for five years and then one day, on page 55, he inserts one sentence of truth as if the two balance out.   As if one sentence of truth equates to five years of lying.

Mark Cuban: What Donald Trump Pretends to Be

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.

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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.

THE TRUMP SHOW CONTINUES: The Second Republican Debate

Donald Trump’s unique achievement has been to turn politics into entertainment by being the most entertaining of the candidates.  Tonight figures to be another big show.  If it is, I think the Donald’s numbers are safe.   Trump’s support will not go down until his fans have become tired of his shtick, just as fans of any popular TV show drop off over time.  The novelty loses its magic.  The tension now lies in our not knowing how long he can keep the show going.

The curiosity for me is which other candidate or candidates jump up their poll numbers tonight and how they do it.

If I were in a position to ask the Donald a question, I’d ask him to explain what he meant by saying he was an “entertainer”  in response to criticism for his comment about Carly Fiorina (“Would you vote for this face?”)  Is he implying that an entertainer should be judged differently than a politician?

I think he revealed much with that comment, surprisingly so, like an actor in a movie who gives an aside to the audience and then returns to character.   He and the character are not one and the same.   Trump’s authenticity isn’t as authentic as it seems.

I think many of his fans see the actor in Trump, but it doesn’t matter as long as they like the script.

But enough of that……   To go beyond the entertainment factor, how should we judge these candidates as presidential timber?  According to conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin there are seven things to look for in candidates who are not ready to be president .

Though I seldom agree with her on other topics, like her estimation of Obama (“feckless”), I think she’s an astute critic of her own party.  It might be interesting to read the list below and guess who she might be referring to and then go to her column for elaboration and her suggested culprits:

  1. If you plead on a major issue that it is a hypothetical ….. you are not ready for prime time.
  2. If you say you will have “advisers for that” in reference to major policy decisions or a basic understanding of the world, you are not ready for prime time.
  3. If you delight in creating chaos, you are not ready for prime time.
  4. If you make a martyr out of a government employee who refuses to do her job in compliance with the law (common law, statute or constitutional decision), you are not ready for prime time.
  5. If you declare you are in favor of a constitutional amendment to address some issue, you are not ready for prime time.
  6. If you attack the questioner or the question, you are not ready for prime time.
  7. If you promise to “abolish the IRS,” build a wall along the entire Mexican (or Canadian) border, get rid of the National Security Agency (instead only gather information on known terrorists) or start a trade war with China, you are not ready for prime time.

Here’s to a Republican Senate Victory Tomorrow.

I have so many thoughts and questions on world events jammed together in my little mind that  I feel mentally constipated.   I need to relieve myself of some of them or my head will burst, but where to begin the flow?

I’m not up to tackling the ISIS crisis, Ebola or even the Ukraine (remember when that was the big attention grabber ?   Still, a near civil war brewing there in the western part with Putin playing his games, but it is a tired story, not quite hot enough at the moment to attract our public attention.)

Let’s look at the Senate race which  is mildly interesting to me because I watch enough cable news to be ensnared into viewing the event like a horse race or football game and the “two teams” seem close enough to expect a good match tomorrow, even though the pundits are leaning towards a Republican victory.

Unlike those pundits, I don’t take it very seriously as it seems to me which ever party holds the Senate reins (which is like riding a bucking bronco), the familiar gridlock will continue.   At the moment, I like the idea of a Republican victory simply because it should make for a more interesting next  two years, as they would be in a position to actually develop shared legislation in both Houses.   That would tie them down to their ideas instead of allowing them the luxury of a constant chorus of we’d do it better than Obama.

O. K. show us what you got.

I don’t think they’ve got much, frankly, and it is so much easier to agree in criticisms of Obama and the Democrats than actually agreeing among themselves on something specific to do.   Really, do you think Ted Cruz could agree on much with anyone other than possibly his clone?  That the Republican party can’t even govern itself might be revealed prior to the 2016 election and give the Democrats real governing power then, both Houses and the presidency, assuming typhoon Hilary doesn’t run out of wind  by then through over exposure.

Of course, from a liberal perspective there are negatives if the Republicans win the Senate (they already control the House).  For one, President Obama would likely have even less chance to accomplish much of anything the next two years, but how would that be so different than the last two?

Also, if a supreme court judge or two needs replacing over these next two years, for Obama to find  someone who could get nominated and not add to the conservative majority of the court might be so hard, we’d have an eight (or less?) member court for awhile.   And of course, with the Republicans controlling the committee chairs, Senate investigations of the Obama regime would multiply like dandy lions in an Illinois summer, vying for TV time with fellow House Republican Darrell Issa’s ongoing contemporary version of judgement at Nuremburg when it comes to all things Obama.

Maybe this all wouldn’t be so good for the country, but it figures to me more interesting to follow than two more years of largely the same boring political theater.   I say:  Let’s have some new boring political theater.

My attitude reminds me of something the romantic English poet John Keats wrote centuries ago.  “What shocks the virtuous philosopher, delights the chameleon poet.”

I’m feeling poetic today.  And a little less constipated now.

Chris Christie Sat on a Wall. Chris Christie had a Great Fall. Can all the King’s Horses and ….?

The biggest political news of the moment is the emails released revealing that Chris Christie’s top aids prompted that shutdown of the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey last September as political payback for the Democrat mayor of the adjacent town failing to endorse Christie for New Jersey governor.  Christie laughed off accusations at the time, but he’s not laughing now.

Instead he’s having a press conference this morning to try to convince us all that he knew nothing about these shennanigans by his top aids and he is outraged by the revelations.  If  his presidential hopes survive this mess he’s an even better politician than I have thought, though these skills diminished in my eyes when he chose to have a separate election for the governorship costing New Jersey some 20 plus millions of dollars.   He gave some high sounding b. s. reason but there is little doubt that the separate election’s true value was to make his margin of victory all the more impressive to a national audience.   This from a governor who constantly avows he does what is best for New Jersey.  Certainly those misspent millions contradict that claim.

And despite that huge victory, his aides still decided to teach the recalcitrant mayor of Fort Lee, N. J. a lesson, this despite endangering some people’s lives due to the traffic jam, not to mention disrupting the lives of many others.  How ugly is that?

If your news watching is restricted to planet FOX, this may still be news to you because they barely covered it yesterday.   The fact that their news director Roger Ailes was a big backer of Christie for president last time around just might have something to do with that omission in fairness and balance.

I noticed they brought up the subject this morning, but it was like an appetizer prior to the bigger meal covering the never ending congressional investigations by Republicans of Benghazi, the IRS and of course Obamacare.   I give Chris Wallace some points on being fair and balanced on his weekend panel show, but I see little balance elsewhere on that planet.

Not that  MSNBC , an entirely different planet, is all that balanced, either, but they at least don’t make it their motto, which makes Fox a more deserving target for derision.

As far as politicians go, I have actually liked Christie, though if he ever tried to bully me as he is wont to do it could change my mind.   In a  post last January I picked him as the most likely Republican presidential candidate  even though I distained the ridiculously early attention to the subject.   At least I said my piece and have shut up about it until now.  By the way, I think my implying Rand Paul was a putz as a presidential candidate has held up well.

I am not gleeful about this revelation, like let’s say Rachel Madow or Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC, for whom this seemed a second Christmas.  I was believing Christie was both better and smarter than this situation implies.   Christie’s knowledge of the payback plan has not yet been proven, and I don’t want to be like Darrell Issa (R.)  with his investigations in the House whereby he begins his inquiries first asserting guilt and then setting about trying to prove it.

However, as has been pointed out by various commentators left and right, Christie is between the proverbial rock and a hard place.  If he convinces us he did not know about this heavy handed retribution, his image of being a hands-on governor takes a huge hit.  And, of course, if it is proven he did know about those actions, well sayonara White House and perhaps even the governor’s mansion as well.   The sharp politician able to work across party lines would suddenly look like the stereotypical Jersey thug, a real life production of “the emperor has no  clothes”.

I would actually like to see Christie somehow triumph over this, though I don’t see how he can.  Perhaps I just like being right and now doubt I was right about this guy.

I want to stop before I see the press conference and become tempted to go on and on and ………………………………………………………………………..

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