Abraham Lincoln, the first, and greatest Republican President, tried to appeal to the best in all Americans, even as the nation stood at the abyss of its darkest hour. Desperately hoping to stop the thunder of war clouds from coming over the horizon, he ended his first inaugural address with these noble words:
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Donald Trump, the presumptive destroyer of the Republican Party, has made his meteoric campaign for self-aggrandisement by appealing to fables of lost American greatness and pandering to the darkest, most ignorant and hateful nature of the mob. For him there are enemies everywhere and he is going to root them out so that “politically incorrect” a-holes like himself can be proud a-holes again. I’m try not to be cynical about this turn of events but I can’t ignore the dying elephant in the room. A know-nothing, phony, self proclaimed business genius; a racist, misogynist, nutjob, conspiracy theorist, egomaniac, Reality TV Star may actually become the Presidential Nominee of what use to the, “Grand Old Party.” Millions of Americans are coming out to vote for this man, who will say anything, even contradicting himself repeatedly in the same day, because they think he, “Tells it like it is.” It is challenging to keep my patriotic optimism afloat amid such chappy waves but, what else can I do?
A couple of recent news items caught my attention because of the volumes they speak about The Donald’s character and thought process. First are the reports of his alter ego, John Miller, a make believe publicist that Trump use to play in order to brag about himself. It’s just bizarre. And despite the fact that he admitted, in court, in 1990, that he had used the name John Miller in the past, he is now completely denying it. That part of the story isn’t bizarre; it’s frightening. You really have to wonder if the man can tell the difference between a lie and the truth? Does the concept of truth even mean anything to him? The second story comes out of Trump’s citing of the National Enquirer as a credible news source. Listen to his exchange with George Stephanopoulos beginning about 40 seconds into this video:
Notice that Trump initially fails to cite his source, just calling it, “a magazine,” and a, “major publication,” because even he has some sense of how absurd this publication is. When pressed, however, he doubles down on stupid and defends The Enquirer as if it is no less credible than anything else in the marketplace of ideas, because The Enquirer, “gave you John Edwards [and] O. J. Simpson.” He also claims that the story of Ted Cruz’s father being involved with Lee Harvey Oswald was, “picked up by many other people,” and reported on in many other publications. Allow me to break down each of these pathetic arguments:
- While it is true that The Enquirer was the first to run with a story about Senator John Edwards cheating on his wife, who was at home sick with cancer, and they published some items first in the O. J. case (e.g. an image of O. J. wearing the alleged gloves that “did not fit” in court), this hardly makes them a vanguard of investigative journalism, giving us valuable information we would otherwise never have known. These are the people who have, “reported,” that, Bigfoot kept a lumberjack as a sex slave, Hillary Clinton adopted an extraterrestrial baby, and undead Vampires were attacking U. S. Troops in Afghanistan. Trump’s “logic” is the same as so many other conspiracy theorists and paranoiacs I have encountered. They wish to believe that since a broken clock is right twice a day it is perfectly reasonable to think it is right all the time and no less dependable than functional clocks.
- The Enquirer‘s ridiculous story about Ted Cruz’s father may have been commented on by other publications – who were laughing at how silly it was – but it was not, “picked up,” as a serious news item and reprinted by serious news outlets (which is what “picking up” a news story normally means in the non-delusional, non-Trump world).
Trump also claims that since “they” (the Cruz Campaign or perhaps the Cruz Family) “didn’t deny” The Enquirer‘s story it was somehow reasonable for Trump to bring it up. What?! How about this: Sane people do not need to address insane charges and decent people don’t repeat insane charges as if they were reasonable. Unfortunately, Trump’s feckless media enablers, like Stephanopoulos, don’t push back on this madness and call it out as madness. They let Trump keep on pretending that he is actually making sense.
Any husker du, I know that the hardcore Trumpets are already well dug into their trenches and it seems nearly impossible to dislodge them with shells of reason, nevertheless, I want to make one more, critically important point: Being anti-establishment is not a conservative position! Conservatism is all about the establishment and the long, hard, tedious, and imperfect process that went into its creation. Those who want to, “blow up,” “teardown,” or “burn down the system,” have no respect for its fragility and the damage they might do. Sober, well informed, well reasoned, thoughtful, and mature men and women speak and move cautiously, because that is how we conserve what we have, while trying to improve society. The populists and reactionaries, who yell and scream about the imminent downfall of America and the perceived loss of their liberties to a corrupt and wicked government are the intellectual inheritors of the Confederate “rebels” and the John Birch Society “super patriots” of yesteryear. They may call themselves, “real conservatives,” all they like and they may even be recognized as the, “true face of conservatism,” from here on out, by the GOP and much of the media, but facts are stubborn things. These people are no more conservative than the Klu Klux Klan is Christian and Donald Trump is the ideal standard bearer for their misguided movement.