TRUMP WHETS PEOPLE’S APPITITE
FOR TRUTH-TELLING IN POLITICS
I’m not sure that travel is as broadening as people say (at least domestic travel). The scenery may change, but it’s increasingly difficult to get away from it all and live in ways that are markedly different from how you’d live at home.
Chalk that up mainly to national marketing, which provides us foods, products, services and entertainments homogeneous from sea to shining sea. In addition, we’re followed everywhere by those news items which the national media and the Internet determine are the most important (or most outrageous).
And so for the two weeks of a recent trip to Colorado, visiting with my daughter, son-in-law and grandkids, I was inundated by stories about the killings at those Tennessee military recruiting sites — and, of course, about Donald Trump.
My first night on the road, I picked up a newspaper in the lobby of the LaQuinta in Columbia, Missouri. The lead story in that issue of the Missourian was a feature about Ramadan and how it was being observed in the local Muslim community. This appeared immediately above a report on the recruiting site attacks.
Talk about poor editorial judgment.
Granted, the article would have been in development for weeks. But the Missourian is published by the University of Missouri School of Journalism, whose guiding “experts” surely could have shown more sensitivity and run the piece inside, rather than on the front page.
Now don’t even consider the idea that some subtle, anti-Muslim commentary was intended. Not in the current “politically correct” atmosphere. My guess is that the Missourian’s editors figured highlighting the cultural practices of local Muslim folk would help to defuse anger over blood being spilled by somebody named Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez.
This was a highly revealing example of the blinkered view and tone-deafness of the modern press. I can well imagine that the Muslims of Columbia gulped when they saw their celebration so thoughtlessly attached to the day’s carnage.
That same blinkered view and tone-deafness have been evident in ongoing news coverage of The Donald. Clearly, the media just don’t get what is the biggest story of this political year.
How can some crazy gazillionare with a loose tongue and a bad comb-over possibly be the GOP front-runner after saying all those offensive things and pissing off every identified ethnic group and economic class?
How could he have dared joke about the sufferings of so prominent a war hero as John McCain?
How is it The Donald scores highest among even Hispanics after trashing Mexican illegals, promising to build a Berlin-style, southern border wall, and raising umbrage throughout Latin America?
This does not compute!
The media aren’t alone in misunderstanding the Trump phenomenon. GOP leaders, big-money backers, and most of the other prominent candidates are totally at sea.
Well, it’s understandable, I suppose. We’ve all become so accustomed to guarding our words.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley got a quick comeuppance after graciously observing that “all lives matter.” A dark horse entry into the Democrats’ presidential sweepstakes, he had unpardonably expanded on the mantra of black anti-police activists to stress the importance of human life in general.
Silly him, to have overlooked the heated context in which the “black lives matter” slogan had gained currency. Whether his abject apology is adequate to keep him in the race remains to be seen (by the end of July, his campaign was scrambling desperately for cash).
The Donald cuts through all that. As he’s admitted himself, Trump is rich enough to not worry about alienating anybody. This has had a refreshingly liberating effect on his campaign style, freeing him to say whatever he damn-well-pleases about things that are obvious but politically charged.
The public is eating it up.
Yes, there really are rapists and murderers among the thousands of illegals pouring over the Rio Grande. Yes, officials really are in deep denial about exotic, south-of-the-border diseases threatening a major health crisis. Yes, immigration enforcement really is a joke.
And yes, it’s really all happening with the connivance of an administration intent on fulfilling a campaign pledge to change this country fundamentally.
Facts. Truth. Simple reality.
What a concept!
It is, of course, impossible to know if a Trump Administration (should there ever be one) would maintain the openness of The Donald’s manner on the political trail. I recall the elaborate promises made about how Obama’s would be the most transparent administration ever — and we all know what happened there (i.e.: passing Obamacare before knowing what the legislation contained, all those secret protocols in the Pacific trade pact and the Iran nuke deal, and the rest).
But regardless of whether Trump’s bluntness translates into a viable campaign that can be sustained over the long haul, what he’s doing right now is enormously important. The Republican Party should be embracing it, not running from it in fear.
Ben Shapiro, senior editor-at-large of Breitbart News is one commentator who gets it and has chided the GOP for trying to “Dump the Trump”…
“Trump is doing a lot of good for the Republican Party,” he wrote recently, “in terms of exposure, media misdirection, and issue-raising; he’s firing up the base, allowing his opponents to draw contrasts with him, and he’s doing it all without tapping out those who want to give cash.”
The reason for Trump’s appeal should be obvious to party power brokers…
“Trump embraces the feeling of frustration from the base, and does so in unapologetic fashion. That unapologetic nature is attractive to conservatives who feel as though they have elected Republicans, then watched those same Republicans surrender again and again.”
All the Trump bashing, Shapiro insists, is only likely to embitter The Donald and encourage him to mount a third-party effort…
“destroying any opportunity for Republicans to beat Hillary Clinton. Establishment characters calling curses from the heavens down upon Trump grants him credibility with the same group of conservatives who believe that establishment attacks are a badge of honor. If those conservatives feel Trump is treated unfairly, it will widen the gap between the donors in the Republican Party and the base of the Republican Party.”
But then, politicians and mainstream media types aren’t the only ones jostled by the Trump bump. Some of our Church leaders have had a visceral reaction to Trumpian rhetoric that makes them misunderstand the public’s crazed response to The Donald.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, thinks Trump’s immigration remarks echo a “virulent strain” of American nativism…
“During those happy days decades ago when I taught American religious history to university students, I spent a chunk of time in class on the ugly phenomenon called nativism,” he wrote in a guest column for the New York Daily News.
“These nativists believed the immigrant to be dangerous, and that America was better off without them. All these poor degenerates did, according to the nativists, was to dilute the clean, virtuous, upright citizenry of God-fearing true Americans ….
“I wish I were in the college classroom again, so I could roll out my ‘Trump card’ to show the students that I was right. Nativism is alive, well — and apparently popular!”
Cardinal Dolan’s view reflects the harsh experiences of his Irish immigrant forebears and expresses a spirit of Christian charity that seeks to “welcome the stranger.” But his perception of this situation is at least a half-century off target.
What we’re seeing in the enthusiasm for Donald Trump is not a revival of nativism or bigotry or ignorant reactionist fervor. Rather, it’s revulsion at the chronic dishonesty and evasiveness that are standard operating procedures in American politics, especially under the current administration (Barack Obama didn’t invent the political lie, but he’s raised it to the level of a high art form).
People are weary of being told that what they know to be true is simply a shadow of their own fears and biases.
In the end, they may decide that Trump is too idiosyncratic (or too crazy) to trust with presidential power. But at the moment, they’re lovin’ the guy’s candor. And the churchmen and the party pros and the media need to open their eyes to see what’s really going on here.
Trump might be a wild card, but right now he holds a compelling hand.
In his New York Daily News essay, Cardinal Dolan observes some realities of immigration that are similar to points I made in my blog post of June 20, 2013. But his primary assumption, that enthusiasm for Trump equates to nativism, is mistaken.
Not knowing quite how to take The Donald — but realizing quite well that they have something to fear from his unique populist appeal — some media have given themselves over to character assassination. One charge which has been raised was that he was cruel, even brutal, to his ex-wife, Ivana. She put those allegations to rest quickly, coming forth with a fervent endorsement…
The Donald does have some friends in the media, though definitely on the right end of the spectrum. No less a conservative crowd pleaser than Michael Savage has called Trump the “Winston Churchill of our time” for his willingness to speak against the prevailing wisdom…
If Trump’s boldness truly is “Churchillian,” the results have been counterintuitive to his opponents — as indicated by a Public Policy Polling survey that gave him a 34-percent favorability rating among Hispanic registered voters, highest in the crowded GOP field…
Of course, we live in a very confused time, politically, as evidenced by the inability of Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to describe the difference between Democrats and Socialists. The Gateway Pundit has video of her stumbling around when asked a question recently by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews…