Sunday, March 6, 2016

Wicked Fun and Danger of Trump

Maureen Dowd offers her usual snarky take on Donald Trump in The New York Times.

The most enjoyable thing about the Trump phenomenon has been watching him make monkeys out of a lot of people who had it coming. Marco Rubio, a frothy focus-grouped concoction whose main qualifications to be president consist of a nice smile and an easy wit, has been mocking Trump as a con man.

Real estate developers are con men by nature, trying to get what they want at the lowest price and sell it at the highest price, overpromising how great it’s going to be.

As Maria Konnikova, the author of “The Confidence Game,” notes, con men are created by the yearning of their marks “to believe in something that gives life meaning. … Their genius lies in figuring out what, precisely, it is we want, and how they can present themselves as the perfect vehicle for delivering on that desire.”

It’s delicious watching the neocon men who tricked the country and gulled the na├»ve W. into the Iraq invasion go ballistic trying to stop the Gotham con man.

It’s amazing, having been tainted by the worst foreign policy disaster in American history, that the Republican national security intelligentsia would unite against a Trump presidency in an open letter, charging that he would “make America less safe” and “diminish our standing in the world.” Sort of like the Iraq invasion?

It’s delightful to see the encrusted political king-making class utter a primal scream as Trump smashes their golden apple cart. He’s a real threat to the cozy, greedy, oleaginous cartel, their own Creature from the Black Lagoon.

For all the Republican establishment’s self-righteous bleating, Trump is nothing more than an unvarnished, cruder version. For years, it has fanned, stoked and exploited the worst angels among the nativists, racists, Pharisees and angry white men, concurring in anti-immigrant measures, restricting minority voting, whipping up anti-Planned Parenthood hysteria and enabling gun nuts.

That’s the wicked fun part. But then there’s the simply wicked part.

He has a tenuous relationship with the truth and an inch-deep understanding of policy. Although it is compelling when he says he would surround himself with an A team in the White House, his campaign is not chock-a-block with A-team players. On Friday, his team put out a press release saying Trump would campaign this weekend in a town called “Witchita” in the state of “Kanasas.” And he has not brought on heavyweights who could bring him up to speed on substance.

He has a nasty gift for dragging everyone down to his own vulgar level. Presidential campaigns should not be about belittling people’s appearances or bragging about your own appendages. Whatever his flaws, President Obama has reinforced our desire for class in presidents.

Trump sees his egregious positions on immigration, torture and terrorism revenge as opening bids. After Super Tuesday, he told reporters that while they might be surprised, he would be a “unifier, once we get all of this finished.”

But he should take a lesson from Condi Rice. She went along with the Iraq invasion, thinking she could reposition W. on the side of diplomacy afterward. But some positions are so extreme, there’s no coming back. Your deal with the devil is sealed.

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