“That explains so much.”
Thanks, The New Yorker
It was a very busy weekend in the presidential election, and I’m finding it harder and harder to keep up with the developments. But when the New York Times details how Donald Trump probably (we don’t know for sure—still no tax returns!) managed to legally avoid a big income tax bill on money his investors lost in his casinos (still wondering, how do you lose a bundle on a freaking casino?) and that fails to register as the top story because the director of the FBI pops off to let the nation know that there might (or might not) be some new email evidence that’s pertinent to the Hillary Clinton private email server case, evidence found while investigating an unrelated case (although that case is related to an investigation of Hillary Clinton’s top aide’s estranged husband), at the same time that there are new and dubious stories alleging Trump’s connection to top levels of Vladimir Putin’s government, then I’ve about reached my limit of good news.
It’s only a week until the election and I need some help synthesizing. That’s the point of commentary, and today in The Atlantic Conor Friedersdorf made a nice contribution in reminding that an apples-to-apples comparison of the faults of Clinton and Trump doesn’t do enough. The FBI/email news is big big big right now mostly because it is new; we’ve all seen how developments that seemed insurmountable have dwindled to near nothingness as this campaign has dragged on and on and on.
It is proper for journalists to keep informing the public about [Clinton’s] misdeeds as new information becomes available, whether it concerns her emails or her family’s nonprofit foundation and its donors. There are so many politicians, many Republicans among them, that I would rather have as America’s president. If not for Trump, I would not even consider voting for her. And yet, strikingly, Clinton’s behavior doesn’t come close to the depths of awfulness displayed by her opponent. He isn’t just a little bit worse. He is orders of magnitude worse, and would do irrevocable damage to the country in ways totally unrelated to his preferred policies.
You can get a good reminder of the details in this May story from David Frum that finds seven “guardrails” in American political life that Trump plowed through to bring us to this point; things like, our presumption of restraint and honesty in a candidate, and even a basic knowledge of public affairs.
But the most moving thing I found today was in a clip trending on YouTube from Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight” in which John Oliver sums up my feelings nicely:
…and it ain’t over yet. There is encouraging news for #NeverTrump types from many polls that indicate GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump is running behind the levels of voter support enjoyed by the most recent Republican nominees, even in places that have been solidly Republican for a generation. If the polls are to be believed, and if Trump stays true to form and shoots himself in the foot again this week or next, there seems little chance that he will win two weeks from now. But don’t throw up your hands in victory and think it’s a done deal—you still have to vote. The polls are telling us what people say they believe or who they plan to support, but the polls don’t predict who will actually cast ballots; if the people who want to vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton, or just want to vote against Trump, don’t actually vote, Trump could still win. Then, we’d all lose.
Trying to do my little bit, I’ve been keeping notes on what seem to me to be the clearest examples of Trump as an unstable narcissistic buffoon who is unfit to hold office, and comments thereupon, and re-tweeting them (@patryan12) as a way to remind people that we have to be vigilant against Trump’s behavior becoming normalized. (You can see my Twitter feed in the sidebar, just to your right and down a bit.) That’s things like:
It’s been hard, I’ll admit; there is so much that is so out of touch with American normality that it’s hard to stay surprised. (Be strong, America; just two more weeks!) On the topic of the “rigged election” that Trump is floating as a way to protect his fragile ego from having to face up to a yuuuge failure, I offer this explainer video. It’s from the Internet, so it must be true:
Polls are now showing that my own state of Texas, which hasn’t voted for a Democrat in a statewide election since 1994, is now considered a toss-up, or in play, or closer than anyone would have thought it would be. Point is, Trump is so bad that even this reddest of red states might vote against him, if not for Clinton. So please: there’s no good excuse for you not to vote…and if the early voting in your area is as busy as it is in mine, there may not even be any lines at the polls on November 8.
The phrase jumped off the obituary page in Houston’s Leading Information Source last June: Elene Davis passed away from “…complications due to congestive heart failure and the 2016 Presidential campaign.” Imagine if she’d seen what’s gone on in the past week!
Late last month I saved the link to this Garrison Keillor column punching again at Donald Trump, noting that “a panhandler in Times Square sat holding a sign reading, ‘Give me a dollar or I’ll vote for Trump,’ and people laughed and reached into their pockets.”
His bucket overflowed. He stuffed the bills into his jacket, and other panhandlers looked at him with admiration. The man could’ve sold franchises and retired to Palm Beach. The panhandler knows what every New Yorker knows, which is that the biggest con job since the Trojan horse is taking place in our midst. Millions of Americans are planning to cast their votes for a man who has lived his life contrary to all of their most cherished values. They are respectful, honest, generous, loyal, modest, church-going people with no Mafia connections and good credit records who try not to spout off about things they know nothing about.
The same week USA Today did something it had never done in its thirty-four years of publication: it took sides in a presidential race:
This year, the choice isn’t between two capable major party nominees who happen to have significant ideological differences. This year, one of the candidates — Republican nominee Donald Trump — is, by unanimous consensus of the Editorial Board, unfit for the presidency.
From the day he declared his candidacy 15 months ago through this week’s first presidential debate, Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he lacks the temperament, knowledge, steadiness and honesty that America needs from its presidents.
Then it went on to spell out the record, that Trump is erratic, ill-equipped to be commander in chief, traffics in prejudice, has a checkered business career, and more. The Atlantic quadrupled-down when it comes to historical precedent, making only its third endorsement since 1860 and the first since recommending Lyndon Johnson over Barry Goldwater:
Today, our position is similar to the one in which The Atlantic’s editors found themselves in 1964. We are impressed by many of the qualities of the Democratic Party’s nominee for president, even as we are exasperated by others, but we are mainly concerned with the Republican Party’s nominee, Donald J. Trump, who might be the most ostentatiously unqualified major-party candidate in the 227-year history of the American presidency.
Hillary Rodham Clinton has more than earned, through her service to the country as first lady, as a senator from New York, and as secretary of state, the right to be taken seriously as a White House contender. She has flaws (some legitimately troubling, some exaggerated by her opponents), but she is among the most prepared candidates ever to seek the presidency. We are confident that she understands the role of the United States in the world; we have no doubt that she will apply herself assiduously to the problems confronting this country; and she has demonstrated an aptitude for analysis and hard work.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, has no record of public service and no qualifications for public office. His affect is that of an infomercial huckster; he traffics in conspiracy theories and racist invective; he is appallingly sexist; he is erratic, secretive, and xenophobic; he expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself. He is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.
This week the Republican Party’s nominee added something new and bizarre when he repeated to CNN his belief that the Central Park 5 are guilty of a famous 1989 rape and beating of a jogger in Central Park. That is, he claims that the five men (who were teenagers in 1989) originally convicted of the crime but “exonerated in 2002 when an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney found DNA evidence linking the vicious crime to a previously convicted rapist. That man admitted to acting alone in the crime” are, nevertheless, the guilty parties. DNA evidence to the contrary, and the confession of the actual guilty party notwithstanding, Trump today insists those five men are guilty of the crime. It’s one thing to have taken a stand on an issue and then have time and the facts ultimately prove you to be wrong; it happens. But Trump is incapable of acknowledging the facts laid out for everyone to see, and rather than admit a thoroughly human error–or even, God forbid, just shut his damn mouth–he repeats his error.
Dumb ol’ me, here I am thinking that should be enough to shock some more Trump supporters into realizing just what a moron he is…but then the issue completely disappears when the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold publishes the Access Hollywood videotape that has dozens of high-ranking Republicans elbowing each other out of the way to jump off the Trumptanic. (Fahrenthold is the reporter who’s dug into the Trump Foundation and found it to be far less than the charitable organ that’s advertised.) I won’t pretend to be horrified by Trump’s comments, which on their face do resemble an admission of numerous instances of sexual assault (if you assume he was telling the truth and not just “bragging”), since they reinforce my previously-held belief that he’s a genuine creep, as well as an ignorant narcissistic megalomaniac with the attention span of a three year old.
Question for those now changing their minds on Trump: why now? Does this incident just seem to be a good excuse that also allows you to pander to the puritanical element of your constituency? It seems like you’ve passed up plenty of chances to do the right thing…
The Deseret News, among others, is now calling on Trump to drop out; I hope he keeps his promise not to withdraw from the race because I think he’s now on an irreversible slide to a yuuuge loss and I want the Republican Party and the crazy right-wing element that nominated this yutz to feel the pain of what they’ve done while they consider their future…yesterday Craig Mazin storified a Tweetstorm that pretty well sums up the path forward for the GOP.
I’d also like to see NBC News pay for its role. Producers for Access Hollywood, which is a corporate relation of NBC, brought the tape to the network last Monday and they sent it to their lawyers; while a legal review was prudent, withholding permission to publish out of fear that Trump would sue is plain old cowardice: in real journalism, being sued by powerful people over a big story is sometimes just part of the deal. So far Trump has apologized and he’s started to accuse others of being bad guys, but he hasn’t threatened to sue anyone. It appears that someone in NBC who was frustrated at the delays leaked the tape to the Washington Post, leaving NBC to be scooped on its own story.
Now, let’s see how Trump handles the town hall-style debate this evening when, hopefully, the nice people at Washington University will insist on straight answers rather than a string of sentence fragments out of the Republican nominee. I predict that without a fawning audience to buoy him, the real, ugly Donald Trump is likely to be on full display.
To everyone who is pissed off at what America’s political system has devolved into, let me say, I get it; I’m with you. It shouldn’t too much to ask for a political and governmental system that can get things done, that treats people fairly, and that will be about protecting the freedom of all its citizens. I get it that you want something better; so do I. But just because you hate Hillary Clinton is not a good enough reason to turn power over to an ignorant, truth-impaired narcissistic megalomaniac with the attention span of a two year old.
Donald Trump is a liar. I don’t mean that in the sense that all politicians shade the truth in order to put things in the best light–the one that shines on themselves; I mean to say that Trump lies to us. All the time. About things that matter, and about things that don’t matter. He just does. He may not even see that he’s making this shit up as he goes along, but he says whatever will make him look good in the eyes of the people he’s talking to…and if that’s not true, if it contradicts what he told the crowd yesterday or the day before, no matter. It’s as if he doesn’t think anyone will remember.
But we do! And telling the truth matters, or it should, to all of us. Regardless of what you think of Clinton, do you really want a president who lies consistently, if not constantly? (“I know you’re lyin/Cause your lips are moving…”) He lies when it’s convenient, he lies when he’s caught in a lie, he lies to promote himself, he lies when telling the truth would be just fine…he lies to try to persuade us all that the world of his imagination is the real world we all inhabit together. He lies.
The New York Times has a long list of Trump’s lies…31 from just this week! They’re broken down into “Tales About Himself,” “Unfounded Claims About Critics and the News Media,” “Inaccurate Claims About Clinton,” “Stump Speech Falsehoods” and “Esoteric Embellishments.” I won’t bother with the most famous ones; others include:
◊He said a supportive crowd chanted, “Let him speak!” when a black pastor in Flint, Mich., asked Mr. Trump not to give a political speech in the church. (Fox News interview, Sept. 15.)–There were no such chants.◊“You see what’s happening with my poll numbers with African-Americans. They’re going, like, high.” (Speech in North Carolina, Sept. 20; made same claim in Ohio, Sept. 21.)–Polls show him winning virtually no support from African-Americans.◊“Almost, it seems, everybody agrees” with his position on immigration. (Remarks in Texas, Sept. 17-Most Americans oppose his signature positions on immigration.◊The presidential debate moderators “are all Democrats.” “It’s a very unfair system.” (Fox News interview, Sept. 19.–Only one, Chris Wallace of Fox News, is a registered Democrat.◊He said it “hasn’t been reported” that Mrs. Clinton called some Trump supporters “deplorable.” (Speech in North Carolina, Sept. 20)–It would be difficult to find a news organization that didn’t report her remark.◊Mrs. Clinton destroyed 13 smartphones with a hammer while she was secretary of state.(Speeches in Florida, Sept. 15 and Sept. 19.)–An aide told the F.B.I. of only two occasions in which phones were destroyed with a hammer.◊Mrs. Clinton is “effectively proposing to abolish the borders around the country.”(Numerous speeches, including in Texas, Sept. 17.)–She is not even proposing to cut funding for the Border Patrol.
Look at the publications that have endorsed Clinton. It’s not just The New York Times, it’s places that haven’t endorsed any Democrat in generations: The Cincinnati Enqurier has endorsed the Republican candidate for a hundred years, and although it has problems with Clinton it still said no to Trump:
Trump is a clear and present danger to our country. He has no history of governance that should engender any confidence from voters. Trump has no foreign policy experience, and the fact that he doesn’t recognize it – instead insisting that, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do” – is even more troubling. His wild threats to blow Iranian ships out of the water if they make rude gestures at U.S. ships is just the type of reckless, cowboy diplomacy Americans should fear from a Trump presidency. Clinton has been criticized as being hawkish but has shown a measured approach to the world’s problems. Do we really want someone in charge of our military and nuclear codes who has an impulse control problem? The fact that so many top military and national security officials are not supporting Trump speaks volumes.
The Dallas Morning News feels that “Resume vs. resume, judgment vs. judgment, this election is no contest.”
Those are real shortcomings [for Clinton]. But they pale in comparison to the litany of evils some opponents accuse her of. Treason? Murder? Her being cleared of crimes by investigation after investigation has no effect on these political hyenas; they refuse to see anything but conspiracies and cover-ups.
We reject the politics of personal destruction. Clinton has made mistakes and displayed bad judgment, but her errors are plainly in a different universe than her opponent’s.
Trump’s values are hostile to conservatism. He plays on fear — exploiting base instincts of xenophobia, racism and misogyny — to bring out the worst in all of us, rather than the best. His serial shifts on fundamental issues reveal an astounding absence of preparedness. And his improvisational insults and midnight tweets exhibit a dangerous lack of judgment and impulse control.
The Los Angeles Times:
Donald J. Trump, a billionaire businessman and television personality…has never held elected office and has shown himself temperamentally unfit to do so. He has run a divisive, belligerent, dishonest campaign, repeatedly aligning himself with racists, strongmen and thugs while maligning or dismissing large segments of the American public. Electing Trump could be catastrophic for the nation.
I can’t sign on with someone who says, seemingly with all sincerity, that he will deport many millions of people from this country–but can’t explain how he plans to accomplish it–and that he will make another country pay for our border security–even after the leaders of that country say they will not and you can’t make me–and that he knows more about fighting foreign terrorists than the military professionals–really, how do you know that?–and lies about, well, he lies about what feels like everything else.
The only thing I can think of that Trump possibly has in his favor is that he is not Hillary Clinton. When the campaigns started rolling last year, my hope was that certainly the Democrats wouldn’t nominate Clinton: there had to be other, better, trustworthy candidates, and I don’t want to have to listen to the litany of conservative freakout about her all over again. But Trump’s not being Clinton isn’t enough, not when what he is turns out to be so disqualifying.
The biggest lie is right there on the front of his stupid cap: no matter what he says, no matter what stories he makes up to tell you what he thinks you want to hear, no matter how he tries to appeal to the lesser angels of our nature, the fact is America is great and always has been. Because of its people, and the ideals that we try to live up to, this is a great country. I didn’t say it was perfect, but Trump is lying to our face when he insinuates that America is anything less than great, and that he is the only person who can fix it. It’s time to call him out to his lying face.