Monday, March 14, 2016

Top 10 Myths About Donald Trump

“I play to people’s fantasies” - Donald Trump

“The truth is that men are tired of liberty” – Benito Mussolini

“Just remember  It’s not a lie…if you believe it”   - George Costanza 

Poor Donald Trump. The media and political establishment are being so unfair to him because he's politically incorrect and dares to challenge a corrupt establishment with new ideas, real leadership and bold vision. That's bullshit of course. And even though so much has already been said about Donald Trump, America's favorite con artist, demagogue and reality game show host, it's still quite astonishing how much nonsense is still out there.  

And so here are 10 myths about Donald Trump:

1.  Donald Trump was opposed to the Iraq War from the beginning.  

Donald Trump likes to tell people that he was opposed to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  It's a line that serves two purposes.  It distinguishes him from the other Republican candidates (and from Hillary Clinton)  and it also gives the impression that he’s not just some dipshit celebrity but rather, someone capable of making sound judgments on foreign policy.  It’s also a lie. The Iraq war began on March 20, 2003 and had been the subject of lively public debate throughout the previous year. But during the run up to the war, when Trump appeared on the Howard Stern show, he was asked if he supported the Iraq war. “Yeah, I guess so,” said Trump.  His first statement that he was against the war was made in July of 2004 more than a year after the invasion.  A month earlier, in June of 2004, CNN announced that a major Gallup poll showed that 54% of Americans believed the invasion of Iraq was a mistake.  Got that?  One month after knowing that most Americans were against the war, Donald Trump took a moment from The Apprentice to say that he was against it too. How insightful!

2.  Trump has renounced racism and bigotry.   

By now, we've all heard about the sordid episode when Donald Trump lied through his teeth, telling  the American public that he doesn't know anything about David Duke, the former KKK Grand Wizard who came out in favor of Trump.  When pressed the following day, Trump blamed the lie on a faulty earpiece - an excuse which made absolutely no sense.  Trump also said "I disavowed David Duke a day before at a major press conference and I'm saying to myself how  many times to I have to continue to disavow people."

Only Trump did not disavow David Duke the day before - instead he played dumb - and he waited several more days before disavowing the Ku Klux Klan at a March 3rd Republican debate.  "I totally disavow the KKK", said Trump sounding more annoyed than convincing. But he couldn't leave it alone and he went on to say that he had been disavowing Duke and the KKK for two weeks - another demonstrable lie.  It's not an accident that Trump waited until after Super Tuesday for this tepid disavowal:  White nationalists and bigots are a key part of Trump's base.

No person, not even Trump, should be responsible for the sins of his father. But given Fred Trump's  history as a racist landlord, Donald's own long track record of race episodes becomes all the more unsettling.  In 1927, Fred Trump, then 21 years old, was arrested in Queens when a Ku Klux Klan demonstration turned violent.  (Some things don't change).  Now, of course, that's not necessarily evidence that Donald's Daddy was a KKK member. But rather than distance himself from the KKK or condemn what that organization represented, Donald's defensiveness about his father's arrest was almost comical.  "It never happened, he wasn't there and besides, he wasn't charged with any crime" - that's almost verbatim.    

3.  Donald Trump's campaign is self-funded.

John Oliver has done a nice job exposing this particular fib.  Trump's website asks for donations, he has received millions in donations, he actually has the support of a Super PAC and even his "self-funding" is borrowed money. It's true that he's less dependent on outside donations than other candidates but it's curious that this financial "independence" should be seen as so appealing. For decades Trump has been an ambitious political operator who brazenly boasts about buying politicians for influence. And now, we're supposed be impressed that he's so rich that he isn't beholden to special interests? Trump is a special interest.   

4.  Mexico, China and Japan are killing us in trade.

Trump likes to say: "America doesn't win anymore." Really?  Somebody should let Mexico, China and Japan know.  Our economy is far stronger than theirs. The game Trump is playing is pretending that a trade deficit means that we are "losing" economically but that's nonsense.  Running a trade deficit (which we've done since the 1970s) does not actually mean that you're losing. It's not an accident that no country has rebounded from the recession of 2007-08 faster or stronger than the U.S.  

5.  Donald Trump supports the military and our veterans.  

Trump is hardly the only politician of his generation to skip the Vietnam War - he received 4 medical deferments for alleged bone spurs that miraculously went away just after the war ended.  But few draft-dodging politicians have been so clueless about, or contemptuous of military service - whether comparing his sexual escapades to military combat or by insulting the sacrifice of  POWs.  And no, Mr. Trump, spending 8th grade in a military school where they force you to make your bed is nothing like the experience of those men and women who actually serve in the armed forces 

6.  Donald Trump is a friend to the Jews.  

It's no surprise that the most virulent anti-Semites - from the KKK to Louis Farrakhan - are vocal Trump supporters. What is a bit more surprising is the ugliness of Trump's own remarks about Jews. According to the former president of one his casinos, Trump once said "the only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day."  Then there was his foray into stereotyping at the Republican Jewish Coalition forum, "I don't want your money so therefore, you're probably not going to support me."  Now this kind of thing might be dismissed as playful if it was your friend telling jokes, but context matters.  This is not Don Rickles - it's Donald Trump and he's got a long and ugly history.

The Anti-defamation League wasn't terribly upset by those remarks but the hate-watchdogs were less sanguine when Trump extracted a chilling fascist-style loyalty oath from his supporters. 

Trump also flirts with conspiracy nuts like the 9/11-Truthers who believe that that the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center was an inside job.  Trump promised that if he's elected "you will find out who really knocked down the World Trade Center."  Trump was referring to classified portions of the official 9/11 report and the suggestion is that Bush and/or the Saudis were complicit and knew about the attack in advance.  Of course, one can be a conspiracy nut without being an anti-Semite but the historical correlation between the two will not bring comfort to American Jews. 

7.  Trump has the courage to be politically incorrect.

By now it should be obvious that "political correctness" is in the eye of the beholder. (Why didn't Trump "tell it like it is" and call out the Bundy militia in Oregon for leading an armed insurrection against the United States?  Because it wouldn't have been "politically correct" for him to do so. And because those are his supporters.) But Trump is often praised for daring to be "politically incorrect" when he calls out Islam as a threat to the United States. Never mind that the Pentagon has blasted Trump's proposal for banning Muslims from entering the U.S. as a gift to ISIS and a threat to national security.  When did Trump start pretending to be such a tough guy? Quite recently, it turns out. Just last year, when a bunch of activists threatened to draw pictures of Mohammed, Trump begged them to knock it off.  Why would you want to get those Muslims upset? They get so very angry.  Trump wasn't just being politically correct. He was capitulating to the jihadists.  He was a weak-kneed appeaser until he saw an opportunity for himself by singing a different tune.  

Now, Donald Trump laments that "political correctness" is keeping protesters and dissenters from being physically beaten - although he's encouraging his supporters to do so anyway.  How brave of him. Thanks largely to Trump, the term "politically incorrect" is now just a license for acting like an asshole. 

8.  Trump is like Ronald Reagan.   

Because Trump is hailed by his supporters as a Republican political savior, there are the inevitable comparisons to Ronald Reagan. Reagan, we are reminded, was also a political "outsider" and a former liberal whose views shifted rightward over time. (And, he's our only divorced President - naturally the twice-divorced Trump wants to top him.) Regardless of how you feel about Reagan or the hagiography that elevated him to sainthood, it's a silly comparison. Unlike Trump, Reagan had core convictions and his political views were shaped by decades of political experience and public service.  Reagan wasn't a crude billionaire game show host who suddenly decided to run for President. In temperament, they could not be more different.  Reagan was well-mannered and polite but politically loyal, popularizing an 11th commandment, "thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow republican." Trump, ever boorish and insulting, never got the memo.  Reagan and Trump may have both been celebrity entertainers before entering politics, but Reagan's supporters and detractors agree - Reagan had character. Trump IS a character - a clownish, thin-skinned, narcissistic bully with no moral compass and no core beliefs beyond himself and his will to power.

Ironically, Trump thought that Reagan himself was nothing but a masterful salesman.  Trump's slogan "make America great again" was stolen directly from Reagan.  And in the Art of the Deal, the 2nd greatest book of all time (after the bible, according to Trump), he says that Reagan was someone who could "con people" but who couldn't "deliver the goods." Sound familiar? 

9.  The media is against Donald Trump.

This might the greatest myth of them all. Trump may be an ignoramus when it comes to the issues, but he is a brilliant marketer who plays the media like a fiddle.  Oh sure he whines about how mean they are to him, but this war against the media is just part of his shtick. He bullies them as a way of "working the refs".  And it works.  The media enables and even coddles Trump - they give him a legitimacy that he's never earned and they give him exactly what he craves most:  attention. Watch how Trump and Morning Joe essentially strike that very bargain - the "journalists" agree to go easy on Trump and he gets them ratings.  They're entertainers too.  As Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS News admitted, Trump's rise "may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS!" 

10. Donald Trump is taking on the establishment.  

Here's yet another example of the media enabling Trump by failing to challenge his core narrative - that he is somehow taking on the "establishment." It's been repeated so often that it's almost never questioned.  But Trump is only challenging the "establishment" if we define the establishment very narrowly to mean the political apparatus that is the Republican Party.  But if we are referring more broadly to the political-media establishment, Trump can hardly be said to be taking on the establishment.  Trump IS the establishment.  He's a savvy political operator and media mogul who's worked the political system for decades.  He's a consummate insider masquerading as an outsider.  It's a funny thing.  He's supposed to be the anti-establishment candidate and yet he's proposed no reforms, laws or policies to fix our broken system.  He has nothing to offer - only idle boasts that he's smarter, tougher, richer, more politically incorrect and more awesome than the elected officials currently in Washington DC.  But by now, it ought to be obvious - Donald Trump has never stood for anything other than Donald Trump. 

Well, as they used to say in the Roman Republic before it fell:  Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur.

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