Donald Trump and Women

Polls continue to show that Donald Trump continues to have around a 70% unfavorable rating among women and of course the Hillary Clinton camp wants to keep it that away or better still make the Donald look even worse to the ladies.  For reasons I will get into in future posts, I prefer Hillary to the Donald as president, meaning I am not eager to slam her campaign, but this attempt to paint him as an ogre towards women seems misguided.

Sure he is an old line chauvinist who sexually objectifies women, and it is no coincidence that many of the women who assist him are, how to put it, real dolls.  However, he has also given women not so physically blessed opportunities at the highest levels in his organization and as one of them has testified “he was the least sexist boss I have ever had.”   The same woman said that Trump once told her admiringly that she had a “killer instinct”, a compliment of the highest order to him it seems.

Lesson?  If you are smart enough and tough enough and unrelenting enough, welcome to the Trump team.  Who cares which bathroom you use.

He also told her that “a man is better than a woman, but a good woman is better than 10 men.”  Where do you place that statement on your scale of sexism?

My point is that Trump is a mixed bag when it comes to women and I think many women react to him differently, either now or potentially so, than the Hillary camp seems to suppose.   I have nothing to base the following on other than my general sense of things, but when I hear Hillary emphasizing the pay differential between men and women, or  what a pig (heavily implied if not exactly stated) Donald Trump is or what a historical break through it would be to elect the first woman president…..   I feel this falls on a lot of deaf female ears.

I believe for a lot of women the issues of personal safety and international and economic security trump those other issues and Donald Trump continuously hits home that he would be best at providing that security, and in doing so he comes off as bold, relentless and decisive, qualities I believe women find particularly attractive in a man.  And, just the opposite of the typical political figure.

Not that Trump’s vulgarity and narcissism  aren’t turn offs and I think women also place a high value on reliability and Trump carries a double edged sword in his emphasis on being unpredictable which, while exciting, prompts doubts in the reliability realm.

I don’t know how all that sorts out, but I think that Clinton camp is betting too many chips on the sexist angle.  Today I heard the Clinton campaign is going to put out millions of dollars of ads portraying Trump’s sexism, under the assumption that many voters are not already aware of it.

Really?

I think they are barking up the wrong tree.  While there are already plenty of never-Trump ladies, I don’t think many more will be recruited with this approach.

I think there are plenty of women out there accustomed to dealing with male chauvinism and willing to tolerate it if that male can provide a route to something they want.  In this case, a greater sense of personal safety and a brighter economic future for them and their families.

If Trump can convince women he’s their guy, that negative rating will prove as subject to revision as most people’s New Year’s Resolutions.

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Donald Trump and the Possibility that Rachel Ray had an Affair with Jay Z

SOME POLITICAL NEWS AND THEN TO THE GOOD STUFF:

Recent breaking news:  Have you heard that the Cruz and Kasich camps have struck up sort of non-compete clause aimed at preventing Donald Trump from achieving the needed 1237 to win the first ballot at the party convention?  For example, in the Indiana primary a week from tomorrow, Kasich won’t actively compete in hopes that Cruz can win this largely winner take all state.  If both battled for the 57 delegates Trump would be more likely to win them all.  And similar deals are projected for other states down the line.

(The deal seems to have been made too late to affect the handful of primaries conducted tomorrow in the Northeast, where Trump is favored all over the place.)

Returning to the theme of gut level vs. mind level voting choices raised in my last post, the New York Times has an article titled:  Cruz-Kasich Deal Means a Much Better Chance to Stop Trump.  It does a good job of showing how this deal gives those two camps a better shot to deny Trump reaching the necessary delegate vote tally in the first ballot.

It’s convincingly rational, but leaves out the possibility that many Cruz and Kasich supporters might decide this is going too far, that Trump is right about the system being rigged and they will either not vote in the primary or vote for Trump.

(Here’s the link to the article:  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/cruz-kasich-deal-means-a-much-better-chance-to-stop-trump/ar-BBsdYIS?ocid=spartanntp


DID RACHEL RAY HAVE AN AFFAIR WITH JAY Z?

Every time I turn on my computer with the idea of doing some research I first have to resist the temptation of all those tabloid hooks like:  30 gorgeous stars who are now obese….or  15 drone photos that will leave you speechless.   I usually succumb to one or two then get to research after battling tiresome pop ups and misleading links, etc.

Today’s grab was a piece about Rachel Ray being lambasted on social media for having had an affair with Jay Z as interpreted from a lyric in a Beyoncé song just released.   The social media beehive have been stinging Ray to death …. “That 30-minute-meal-making home wrecker who loves posting photos of her sexy … artichoke burgers?”

But now it appears it is a Rachel Roy, whoever that is, who is being accused as the culprit and I’m inclined to agree with that analysis just because they show photos and I think she’s prettier.  But for the record I have no idea what the truth is in any of it.

I just know it was spicy gossip and I was hungry for a little, and as often the case it left me feeling a bit depressed about our society and myself.

In a way I have yet to crystalize, this little confession typifies the tabloidization of American life, a steady diet of the outrageous and shocking and scary tied to an evolution and dissemination of twisted truths.  In ancient times, i. e. pre-internet and pre-social media, about the only time I glanced at tabloid news was paging through a National Enquirer in the check out line at a super market.

And back then the stories were pretty easy to see through and smile at such as “Chimp’s Head Put on a Human Body.”  Now I must hack my way through the come-on’s like a jungle explorer and obviously get entangled on occasion, seldom ever glad I did.

What’s all this have to do with Trump?  Our thirst for entertainment has come to shape much of our lives and now it is largely shaping our political process.   Trump is winning because he is an entertainer, but an especially gifted one, a Svengali capable of mesmerizing us, at least as compared to the other politicians who are, for the most part predictable, hence boring.

More than his skill at tapping our fears and resentments, it is Trump’s capacity to be unpredictable and outrageous that draws our interest and keeps us wanting more, like an ongoing series of tabloid articles or a TV reality show.

Ted Cruz thought he was taking Trump to task recently by calling him a “phony”, but Trump trumps such charges because he has turned political phoniness into a game of TV Survivor.  He readily admits that his successful character attacks on his opponents are mostly just clever ways to knock them out of the game and that basically he likes them all. It’s just how you play the game and he not only wants to win but for us to see and appreciate his ingenuity.

He has told us over and over again that he is a winner, been able to point to his assembled fortune for starters, and then translated that winning into the politicial sphere before our eyes, employing a more effective brand of phoniness than his opponents like a winner in Survivor would.

His challenge after he gets the Republican nomination will be not only to persuade most Republicans to vote for him, along with so-called Reagan Democrats, but also come up with more winning moves that are sufficiently unpredictable and outrageous, i. e. entertaining, to make us want to watch the show for the fall season.

The Inevitable Destruction of the Republican Party

Maybe it’s not inevitable, but is sure looks like it from here.

In case you’re just coming out of a coma, Donald Trump thrashed his opponents for the Republican presidential nomination in last night’s primary, winning seven states while Ted Cruz won three and Marco Rubio won one.   Of course, there are a lot more primaries to take place, but the trend seems clear.  The losing camps like to point out that Trump really is getting only about 35% of the votes, indicating that leaves about 65% of Republicans against him.

The problem with that is none of his opponents plan on dropping out soon and it is unclear if any of them does, where their votes would go.   For example, the camps of Cruz and Rubio are far from close, so if Cruz would drop out a lot of his votes would go to Trump.   At the moment the path to the nomination now looks like a red carpet for the Donald.

Except that prominent figures in that vague collection called the “Republican establishment” seem willing to try anything to sabotage a man who at times seems more liberal than conservative, has no real plans for anything and is outrageously crass whenever he feels like it.  In short they cannot stomach the thought of Trump being the current personification of “the party of Lincoln and Reagan.”

The specter of a Trump nomination has driven Senator Lindsey Graham to admit with clinched teeth that he would even prefer Ted Cruz to Donald Trump.  That’s quite a statement from a guy who has joked that if Cruz was murdered on the senate floor, no one would be found guilty.   If you don’t get the joke, he was suggesting how disliked Cruz is by his fellow Senators, probably so since he does not have even one endorsement from them.

Things are so bad that I see various noteworthy Republicans state they won’t vote for Trump if he’s nominated, and hear much talk of plans to prevent his getting the necessary 1237 votes to win the nomination outright.  While none of the others appears capable of beating him, together they may well get enough votes to leave the matter unsettled until the convention in Cleveland in July.

Hence, a floor fight or perhaps more accurately, a gang cage match.

What might happen there boggles the mind.  Except it cannot be good for the Republican party.  It is hard to imagine a majority of delegates rallying around either Cruz or Rubio, which might leave Ohio governor Kasich as the default choice.   Being a popular governor of the state and having a positive campaign not really attacking the others he wouldn’t be a bad candidate – actually a good one in normal times – but the Trump fans are close to a religion at this point, zealots for change no matter what, and if Trump is “robbed” of the nomination, no way they’ll vote same ‘ol, same ‘ol Republican if they vote at all.

The image of Humpty Dumpty comes to mind.

The Wizzard of Trump: Peering Behind the Curtain

Two friends of mine were lambasting me last night for appearing to become a fan of Donald Trump.  I tried to defend myself by saying I’m not a fan of the man, but just fascinated by his political success.  But they would have none of that.

“He’s racist. He’s sexist.  That’s what you should be pointing out,” said one.   As if that were news to anybody.  What’s interesting to me is how in  acting like a crass, prejudiced jerk he only gets more popular.

Truth is, I don’t know who Donald Trump is.  He’s praised for speaking his mind, or from his heart, portrayed as being authentic like Bernie Sanders.  I think only some of that is true and it is hard to sort it out because fundamentally Trump is a showman, so what we see is mostly what he wants us to see to keep the show fresh and entertaining.

Do you think he’s not consciously being unpredictable?   That’s not authenticity, that’s an act.

Or some of it is and some isn’t, hard to know.  But this morning I decided to see if I could find some insight as to the man as opposed to the showman and I hit a goldmine in an interview in the Daily Beast with a woman named Barbara Res, who seems likely to know Trump about as well as anyone.

Trump hired her as the top engineer in the construction of Trump Tower in the 80s and she still worked with him in the 90s when “he only escaped financial ruin because the banks decided to leave the super self-promoter with enough to maintain the illusion of an empire.”

Trump asked her to take on the Trump Tower job when she was only 31, a position that probably no other woman in the world had.  And, though she had seen Trump be abusive to others who worked for him, he had always treated her with respect .

He “was the least sexist boss I ever had as far as trusting me and viewing me equally with all the men we encountered in our mutual dealings,” she reports. “He wanted me to be him on the job. He said I would be like a ‘Donna Trump.”

That’s the good part, though not surprisingly she won the respect by standing up to the many men she worked with.   “He told me I was a killer,” she recalls. “That’s important to him. Apparently, he thought that was a compliment.”

While Trump values the killer instinct, Res reveals when it came to firing people, he had trouble doing it himself.  “When somebody had to be fired, Donald laid the job off to an underling,” ironic given his “Your fired.” line being his tough guy trademark phrase in his show The Apprentice.

Res sheds light on a number of Trump traits, such as the anger shown is real, while the charm is a put on, and of course he seldom blames himself for any work that fails or falls short.  And he has no shame.  He showed that in the way he handled a scandal with a mistress and in his outrageous comments about anyone or group he feels anger towards.  “The more he gets away with, the more he does,” she says.

Not surprisingly, she says his biggest skill is self-promotion and that were it not for the image he promoted of having “the Midas touch,” prompting a number of banks to keep him afloat while he was hundreds of million in debt his financial empire would have collapsed years ago.

But the empire did not collapse and he became very rich and even more famous, but something changed him in the process.   “The humanity unfortunately faded as Donald’s star brightened,” Res says.   And while clearly a progressive before Obama’s second term, he trademarked  Make America Great Again a few days after the inauguration and became a conservative demagogue.

According to the interviewer:  “For all her experience with the old Trump, she had trouble discerning what was actual in the new one.” 

A Hillary supporter, Res follows the new Donald’s campaign from afar.  She saw the coverage of him saying that he wanted to punch a protester in the face.

“I would be laughing, but I’m crying,” she says. “He’s just such a bully. A typical bully.”

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P. S. – Res published a book in 2013 about her life in the construction industry available on Amazon, while the Daily Beast article can be reached by cutting and pasting:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/02/25/donald-trump-s-tower-boss.html

In the article Res provides a much fuller portrait of Trump than I have alluded to here.

 

Our Trump Infatuation: Are We Amusing Ourselves to Death?

“I’m digging Trump. …his campaign has been entertaining as sh_t.”

Trump supporter Kid Rock in a Rolling Stone interview.

After initially laughing at his candidacy last summer I have become in awe of Donald Trump’s success in this race prompting a couple of Trump non-fan friends to question whether I have gone over to the dark side.  I have to admit its tempting as thus far he has been the perfect demagogue for our age. He plays our fears, resentments and hopes like a virtuoso a Stradivarius.  I sometimes think of him as Hitler-lite.

True, to many he plays off key, creating shrill sounds.  Sure he stretches the truth or generalizes it out of existence, is crass in speech and action but he is supremely confident that he can  make America  great again and that confidence is contagious.  Being entertaining and projecting strength seem to trump all other virtues in the contest.

The best the others can promise is to just make America better.  Kind of lukewarm in comparison.

In that interview Kid Rock also emphasized that nothing good seems to change in government no matter which party is in power and he’s tired of the same ‘ol same ‘ol.  Why not give the business guy a chance to shake things up?

So, besides being a good entertainer Trump prompts excitement about the possibility of seeing new things happen in Washington with him as chief.  His lack of any real plans, his occasional brutish ways and his penchant for unpredictability only adds to that excitement, even the scary parts.  After all horror movies sell, too.

Since the Trump show seems likely to be playing well for months to come, we’ll have plenty of time to think about his curious achievement in turning politics into show business and cash in on what I would argue has become, if not our foremost value, in contention at least:  Being entertained.

We have become addicted to being entertained and technology offers us more and more entertainment each day, hundreds of TV channels, big movie special effects, video games and all of the social media one could ever want.   In America, there is no excuse for being bored anymore.

We want to be entertained in every which way and Trump has made politics entertaining.  Sure, he pushes a lot of our emotional buttons but most importantly, he does it in an entertaining way.

Trump is cashing in on our collective addiction to entertainment.  He rides this wave like no one else, well enough to appear a shoe in for the Republican nomination for the presidency and making me wonder if his entertainment value will carry him to the presidency.

Putting aside for the moment the fears he may inspire along with whatever personal distaste you have for the man, wouldn’t a Trump presidency be the most interesting to watch unfold?  Just like in his campaign we’d never know what he might say or do next.

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P. S. – Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business is a book by Neil Postman published in 1986.  While we tend to think of political oppression coming from an outside source, such as big government – hence the emphasis of the right on the right to bear arms – Postman postured a bigger danger coming from our wanting to be entertained to the point that what we desire will ruin us.

Postman’s warning seems to be prophecy coming to fruition in the form of Donald Trump.  I will return to the book at various times as the race for the White House continues, as I think entertainment value will remain a crucial factor.

Here’s a taste of the book:

“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.”  

Donald Trump Might be Even More Popular than Polls Show

Recent findings by a research group called Morning Consult suggest that as well as Trump does in the polls, he might actually be even more popular than that.  This “group” has found that a number of people who back him, usually college educated, are embarrassed to admit it, so they mislead pollsters.

My favorite columnist, Kathleen Parker, reflected on these findings and, as usual, has written a column that is both witty and insightful, shedding light on the Trump phenonmenon in her own unique way.

“Morning Consult’s revelations got me thinking and, by Jove, I think I’ve got it: Donald Trump is White Man’s last stand.”

This link to that editorial is my Christmas gift to you.

Some Thoughts About Some Things Not Trump

Donald Trump has done it again.    Just as I had become bored by his outrageous antics and his answer to every problem being how amazing he will be at fixing it, he has found a new way to grab my attention.  This morning he surprisingly acted like a normal candidate by offering a relatively detailed plan to change our tax code.   Boring out of the mouths of others but for him, Mr. Bluster, it works.  It is not what we expect and it doesn’t sound crazy like deporting millions.  He makes the plan sound attractive and possible to do by him alone, unlike those all talk and no action politicians.

This plan is a whole new shiny object to mesmerize the media this week.  I give him credit, but I’d rather think about some other things.  Not the big ticket items like the immigrant crisis in Europe, the unsolvable Mid-East mess, Putin’s machinations and the cap in trade “deal” with China recently announced.  All too much for me to contemplate right now.

And not the other half of the election, the Democratic primaries, either.  I’ve been spoiled by the Trump show.  The Dems are still in pre-production mode as far as a show goes.   I’m waiting for Hillary and Bernie to really start duking it out and for Hamlet, ur I mean Joe, to decide to be or not to be.  Or some really big, likely bad news for Hillary about her server, a word that has become synonymous with liar.

Thinking not Trump, how about the Pope, his polar opposite when it comes to craving attention.   The pontiff must make the Donald drool at the adulation accorded him in his stateside visit.   The difference is while the Donald craves attention, the Pope endures it.  It goes with his calling not something he deeply desires.  He sees his role as God’s will not his will.

Think of how endless his days have been of late.  All those events all day all the time.  What a heavy load he bears, and bears so well.  No wonder that he keeps asking people to pray for him.  A TV commentator seemed to sum him up best when saying.  “He walks in the footsteps of Jesus.”  Isn’t that as good as it gets?  Wonder whose footsteps Donald Trump walks in?

One person Pope Francis asked to pray for him was John Boehner and it changed the Speaker’s life.  At least it sped it up a bit.  He had been planning to resign at the end of the year, but felt so blessed by the Pope’s request, he resigned the next morning.  Somehow the Pope’s request set him free.  Thoughts of future anonymity made John joyous.  Of course he left the House in a mess, but his staying was not likely to improve anything.  To get a better sense of Boehner’s blessedness, check out this piece by John Costa, who talked with the Speaker the night before.

A story that rated more attention than it got (hey, it has been a super busy news period of late, I know) was President Obama selecting Eric Fanning, who is openly gay, to become Secretary of the Army.   Most surprising is the relatively little initial negative reaction, though the naysayers may just be biding their time.  Fanning has been a highly regarded military policy maker and manager for 20 years, so his credentials are strong.

If gays are to be completely integrated in the Army (“Don’t ask don’t tell” wasn’t that long ago and for most of my life being gay was basically a crime), a well qualified gay man at the helm seems a big step forward .   I like the reaction of Iraq war veteran Phil Carter, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security: “My sense is that the Army is over this and has been over it for some time. The Army cares whether you can shoot straight, not whether you are straight.”  (for more details go here).

A final not Trump item is Fareed Zakaria’s contention that Trump is wrong about China, Mexico and Japan killing us economically.    In his regular column in the Washington Post he argues “the reality is almost the opposite.  The United States is more dominant on the global economic landscape than at any point since the heyday of Bill Clinton’s presidency — perhaps even more so.”  

Unlike Trump he actually provides evidence to support his contention rather than simply asserting it as an unequivocal fact.  Zakaria, who also has a TV show on CNN Sunday mornings call Fareed Zakaria Global Public Square (GPS), is my favorite world commentator, though the competition for that honor is slim given the America-centric nature of our news.

Here is the general site in which the recent piece as well as many other interesting articles are available.