What doth it profit a Republican to gain the Supreme Court, and lose the world in a megalomaniac’s nuclear war?
There is no fair and balanced way to say this. The acceptance speech Donald Trump gave at the Republican convention Thursday night was the most frightening piece of demagoguery I’ve ever heard in politics.
Over the course of his 75-minute oration (one pundit called it “Castro size”) Trump gave America a front row seat on the spectacle that mesmerized Republicans during the primaries.
Sure, he stripped out the epithets and stuck to the prepared remarks on the teleprompter, but the performance was marked by the same incendiary rhetoric, conflated facts and dog whistle clichés –– let’s start with law & order –– that have characterized his whole campaign.
He promised at the outset to present the facts “plainly and honestly” –– “We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore” drew the first standing ovation. –– “and share with you my plan of action for America.”
He did neither. His solutions for a complex array of world problems boil down to one thing: Elect Me!
• “I will outline reforms to add millions of new jobs and trillions in new wealth that can be used to rebuild America.”
• “I will restore law and order in our country.”
• “I will work to ensure that all of our kids are treated equally, and protected equally.”
• “I will work with, and appoint, the best prosecutors and law enforcement officials.”
• “I will ask myself: does this make life better for young Americans in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Ferguson.”
• “I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.”
• “I have made billions of dollars in business making deals – now I’m going to make our country rich again.”
• “We are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our country.”
• “We are going to be considerate and compassionate to everyone.”
• “I am going to turn our bad trade agreements into great ones.”
• “I am going to bring our jobs back to Ohio and Pennsylvania and Michigan and all of America.”
• “I am not going to let companies move to other countries.”
• “We are going to lift the restrictions on the production of American energy.”
• “We will build the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, and the railways of tomorrow.”
• “We will rescue kids from failing schools by helping their parents send them to a safe school of their choice.”
• “We will repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare.”
• “We will fix TSA at the airports!”
• “We will completely rebuild our depleted military.”
• “We will take care of our great veterans like they have never been taken care of before.”
• “I am going to work very hard to protect free speech for all Americans.”
• “I have proposed the largest tax reduction of any candidate who has declared for the presidential race this year.”
• “We are going to start winning again.”
Sounds okay. But how? Consider just a few examples.
• “I will work with, and appoint, the best prosecutors and law enforcement officials.” Trump’s pledge to be the law and order candidate is predicated on his claim there is a rising tide of crime in America’s cities.* But the prosecutors, police and court officials who deal with it every day are chosen on the local, county and state level. Overwhelmingly, they support some form of gun control. Trump does not.
• “I have proposed the largest tax reduction of any candidate.” True, but it is heavy on corporate tax reductions, light on tax relief for the middle class, and will add $10 trillion to our national debt over the next 10 years, according to the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities. This is a 50% increase over the current $19 trillion debt, which Trump considers out of control.
• “We will rescue kids from failing schools.” This might be hard given Trump’s pledge to eliminate the Department of Education.
• “I will ask myself: does this make life better for young Americans in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Ferguson.” How about going there to ask them?
• “We will build the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, and the railways of tomorrow.” Good idea. Try selling it to a Republican Congress.
• “I am going to work very hard to protect free speech for all Americans.” This coming from a man who petulantly bans reporters from his rallies and advocates strengthening libel laws so he can more easily sue news outlets that publish critical stories about him.
• “I have made billions of dollars in business making deals – now I’m going to make our country rich again.” Perhaps by exploiting the same loopholes and tax dodges he uses. Of the seven Trump tax returns that have come to light (all prior to 1996), he paid no federal taxes on four of them. Hell, we don’t have to elect Trump president to get rich. We just need to study his tax returns. But, oops, the last 20 years worth can’t be released because they are still under review.
• “We are going to be considerate and compassionate to everyone.” Who does he think he is kidding?
Trump’s laundry list of promises taps into a pervasive sense in the electorate this year that the economy is stalled. Never mind that the unemployment rate is under 5% and we are in the third longest recovery in history. Wages for ordinary workers are stagnant. The chief culprit is income disparity – the gap between what the upper 1% of earners make and the rest of us do. Which of the four billionaires who spoke at the convention, all Trump cronies, addressed that?
It is easy enough to put the blame for all that is wrong in America on the gridlock in Washington, or as Trump says, “the special interests who have rigged our political and economic system for their exclusive benefit.”
“Nobody knows that system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” he boasts.
But he alone cannot fix it. In Trump’s world, all the decisions are his. He makes the deals. He dictates which projects he will pursue. If you believe his kids, he’s down there in the ditches pouring the concrete for his high rises. But what he does best is he sells himself – and leaves it to his lawyers to handle the 4,000 lawsuits, including four bankruptcies, his organization has been embroiled in over unpaid bills, broken contracts and perceived slights.
Say what you will about Hillary Clinton, she understands our government is made up of three branches with distinct powers: congress, the executive and the judiciary. She has had vast experience – God knows, not all of it good – getting this behemoth to work together to keep America’s lights on. Donald Trump seems to think it’s all run by a switch in the Oval Office that he can flip on or off as his mood dictates.
Speaking of Hillary
And speaking of Hillary, did Trump mention her in his speech? Do wild bears shit in the woods?
“Hillary Clinton is proposing mass amnesty, mass immigration, and mass lawlessness,” he said in a section of the speech where he denounces her “radical and dangerous” immigration ideas. “Her plan will overwhelm your schools and hospitals, further reduce your jobs and wages, and make it harder for recent immigrants to escape poverty.”
Hillary Clinton has committed “terrible, terrible crimes” by using her private server to send emails while she was Secretary of State. “Her single greatest accomplishment may be committing such an egregious crime and getting away with it – especially when others have paid so dearly.”
“Her bad instincts and bad judgment” underlie the crisis in the Middle East, Trump went on. “Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons. Syria is engulfed in a civil war and a refugee crisis that threatens the world. After fifteen years of wars in the Middle East, after trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost, the situation is worse than it every has been before. This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.”
Please, let’s give some credit where credit is due to George Bush, Dick Cheney and a few others who dabbled in the region.
Those, of course, are not her worst sins. Trump noted in passing she also wants to protect education bureaucrats, put the great miners and steel workers of our country out of work, and abolish the 2nd amendment. (None of which are true.) But you get the idea. She’s a bad person. On another day, in another setting, you might even call her “crooked.”
In the great unity that emerged at the convention Trump just engineered, troubled Republicans – and there are many of them – seem to have concluded that as much as they despise Donald Trump, they will vote for him because he is not Hillary.
I will take my own shots at her next week when the Democrats convene in Philadelphia. But I’ll tell you right now: I’ll take a woman whose worst crime is using an iPhone over an unstable, self-absorbed demagogue – with his finger on the nuclear trigger.
Why, I’d even let Gary Johnson on crack get closer to that button than Donald Trump.
* For a fact check of this and 22 other false claims in Trump’s speech (8 being Pants-on-Fire lies) go to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Politifact. (www.politifact.com)