Saturday, August 13, 2016
And the crazy campaign just continues! Recently, a news story about another email scandal involving Hillary Clinton and unsavory political ties with the Clinton Foundation was buried in the news when Donald Trump continued his trend of saying at least one horrid and offensive thing every other day. And even for him this was a doozy: at a rally, referring to Clinton, he intoned "If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know." So, once again into uncharted waters we go as a Presidential candidate appears to be openly calling for the assassination of his opponent. Inevitably, his spokespeople have taken to the airwaves, saying that he was referring to the unity that Second Amendment voters have. This somewhat absurd defense implies somehow pro gun voters will stop Clinton from appointing judges after she's already been elected. More importantly, that defense discounts the way Trump said these words, with a smug shrug and a smile, obviously loving the joke and the crowd's reaction, disregarding the consequences. This is, after all, a man whom has ridiculed a handicapped reporter and blithely calls Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers. He knew damn well what he meant.
A short time later he made another speech in which he called President Obama "the founder of ISIS." Once again implying that our president is somehow a Muslim with terrorist sympathies. At first he tried to defend these statements, and then called them "sarcasm"(!) in a tweet, to once again double down at another rally by saying, “Obviously I’m being sarcastic. Then — but not that sarcastic, to be honest with you.” Clearly this man is unhinged, lurching from one offensive statement to another without any thought other than his own self promotion.
Thankfully, the American public seems to have figured this out, as more and more polls have shown him falling further and further behind Clinton both nationally and state by state (he may even lose the Republican stronghold of Utah!). An anonymous Iowa Republican put it this way “Trump is under performing so comprehensively across states and demographics it would take video evidence of a smiling Hillary drowning a litter of puppies while terrorists surrounded her with chants of ‘Death to America!’ But in 2016, stranger things have happened." Meanwhile, many prominent Republicans have been moving away from him; recently 50 Republican National Security Officers signed a petition questioning his fitness. While Trump loves to brag about the fact that he received almost 14 million votes in the primary, the highest number for any Republican primary candidate in modern history, he doesn't seem to realize that there's a long climb to the 65.9 million that Obama got in 2012 to win the national election.
With realization (and poll numbers) slowly dawning on him, Trump has taken a new tact and has started to say the system is "rigged", and that he thinks Clinton will somehow steal the election. At a recent rally in Pennsylvania he said, " The only way we can lose, in my opinion -- and I really mean this, Pennsylvania -- is if cheating goes on. I really believe it." This in a state that hasn't voted Republican since 1988. As before with the Second Amendment comments, he is entering dangerous territory; if Trump loses a close election and screams that it's stolen, there could be some angry, even violent responses in the country, especially when one considers the kind of people that show up at his rallies. This is why he doesn't just have to lose, he has to lose by a landslide, so that his tantrums about the vote being stolen will look foolish even to his supporters. So, Hillary's latest email scandal is nothing compared to the danger of this clown becoming the leader of the free world. Let's hope for the most lopsided election since Reagan crushed Mondale in 1984.
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
If you search old videos on You Tube, you can easily find clips of political pundits commenting on the early days of Donald Trump's presidential campaign by laughing at the absurd idea that he would ever be the Republican presidential nominee. And in the following months, the laughter continued; after each absurd lie or bigoted statement Trump made, the media would announce that his campaign was over, that he couldn't possibly keep going. For me, the moment that I thought it was all over was when he ridiculed fellow Republican John McCain by saying he wasn't a war hero because he was captured in Viet Nam. ("I like people who weren't captured".) To put that in proper context, here was a man who never served in the military mocking the record of a fellow party member and previous presidential candidate. Surely the Republican voters, the party that wraps itself in the flag and loves the military, would never except Trump after such an offensive statement. But they did.
Trump himself sometimes seems a bit stunned by his support, once saying "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters", and for the past year that seemed to be true, as he moved from one childish insult to another lie to another offensive statement. In past years, any one of his statements would probably have disqualified any other candidate, but somehow they have made him stronger. Another telling moment for him is when he admitted that in his impromptu speeches, anytime he felt he was rambling too much, he would repeat his line about building a wall with Mexico, knowing that that always got applause. His base clearly don't seem to care that he's lying to them, they're more concerned about hearing what they believe echoed back to them rather than the truth; they're like creationists rejecting carbon dating and fossils.
His outrageous behavior during the Republican presidential nomination campaign has been defended by his reluctant supporters who have placated nervous party members by making assurances that he would become more presidential after the Republican convention.
Well, so much for that! First, he gave a major headline grabbing interview during the Democratic convention (normally presidential candidates lay low during the other parties convention, but a raging narcissist like Trump couldn't possibly allow attention to move away from him for 4 whole days) in which he encouraged Russian computer hackers to release Hillary Clinton's emails. Yes, here was a man running for president encouraging a foreign country to commit an illegal act of espionage against our country! While he later tried to say he was just being sarcastic, the fact that he would even joke about something like that is troubling to say the least.
And then there was his response to one of the most powerful speeches of the Democratic convention: Khizr and Gazala Khan, the Muslim parents of a son who died in Iraq defending his fellow troops, appeared on stage, putting a human face on Trump's absurd decision to ban all Muslim immigrants to the US. Khizr spoke strongly about the death of his son and Trump's fear mongering. When later asked to respond, Trump implied that Gazala didn't talk because her husband wouldn't let her; after all, Muslims don't respect women. (She later said that shouldn't talk because she is always overcome with emotion when talking about her son, but that she did help with her husband's speech).
Immediately, Trump's comments were condemned by top Republicans like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain, although they stopped short of rescinding their endorsements of him. August 2nd brought a headline in the New York Times showing that Trump, in typical Trumpian fashion, is giving interviews in which he refuses to apologize for his statements, despite the pleas of his own advisers to move on. This all bares naked one of his biggest flaws as both a candidate and a human being: his inability to admit mistakes and his continual desire to lash out at any criticism. Will this, finally, be the last straw for Trump? Let's hope so. Honestly, what kind of man goes after the grieving mother of a fallen hero?