Monday, August 31, 2015

The Bully Pulpit

It has become a given among professional journalists that Nazi or Hitler references have no place in the discourse of American politics. That being said, doesn't Donald Trump remind you of Mussolini- the same arrogant swagger, the fiery rhetoric, the frenetic arm movements, the pout? Pardon me, Benito Mussolini was the fascist dictator of Italy who was allied with Germany and Japan against the United States during WWII.  I wasn't there. I just like to read about this stuff. Or maybe I saw it on the History Channel. Anyway, lately Trump has been making Mussolini look absolutely timid. What with the defiant stance, the funny hats, and the adorable wife. Well, at least Benito thought his wife was adorable. And he likes pushing people around, see?

Trump has dominated the news coverage for weeks. In fact, you can't turn on the TV without seeing the Donald. He's the main attraction on all the cable news networks as well as the entertainment news channels because, let's admit it, he's one helluva entertainer. But if I hear one more pundit say, "He's sucking all the oxygen out of the room," I'm going to suffocate. After several outrageous news conferences and incoherent speeches, Trump is running away with the GOP leading contender status like a contestant on "The Apprentice." The Tea Party contingency loves him and the evangelical congregation believe he's a godsend. Literally. There's no use telling Trump devotees that his xenophobic, misogynistic, paternalistic, and extremist ravings might be dangerous because they don't understand what those words mean anyway. That's why they call it "the base." For the rational among us, Trump's ole-time racist rhetoric won't be so fascinatingly galling for much longer. The novelty will wear off,  his shelf-life will expire, and it will be time to change the channel. The problem is, to what channel?

No sooner had Trump made nice with the Fox Republican Propaganda Network over his ugly remarks about favorite daughter Megyn Kelly, than he unilaterally restarted the war. Trump went into Twitter overdrive saying, "I liked the Kelly File much better without Megyn Kelly," and retweeting some clever backwoods poet's comment that, "The bimbo's back in town," with Trump adding, "I hope not for long." Trump says, "I cherish women," in his domineering way. Maybe Ivanka can tell Dad that calling them "bimbos" is no way to win the women's vote. Personally, I'd love to see a war between Trump and Fox News. Trump and Roger Ailes could have a loser leaves town match, or better still, a hair match, only Ailes has none to lose. Perhaps he could get Hannity as a proxy. The next week, Trump tossed respected journalist Jorge Ramos out of a press conference for being too insistent, saying, "Go back to Univision." That sucking sound you hear is the last potential Latino  Trump vote heading south. During his next media scrum, Trump claimed that, "CNN is terrible," and "Fox News doesn't cover me fairly." Since NBC dismissed him from his reality show, Donald is about to run out of media outlets to cover his every burp on live TV.

The Dick Armey organized, Koch brothers funded Tea Party was once a fringe group of the Republican Party. Now, they run the show. The GOP created this beast on inauguration day when they plotted to destroy the Obama presidency- country be damned. So now they must feed the beast. Trump claims that his favorite book is the Bible, yet he can't remember a favorite passage. Here's one from Hosea 8:7, "They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind." Trump's stump speeches contain phrases like, "the Mexican people love me," "I have a great relationship with the blacks," and "we love the Ukrainians." I don't know if I'm listening to Donald Trump or Don Rickles. Political insiders scoff at the possibility of Trump winning the nomination, but this is the party that elected the twin disasters of Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. If Trump is somehow elected president, he'll have to build a wall at the southern border to keep people in. "People are shocked at how smart I am," says Trump as he carries on a Twitter war that makes him look more like a Real Housewife than a presidential candidate. He's sewn up the Duck Dynasty vote without putting forward a single intelligible program. When challenged on his plan to expel 11 million undocumented workers, Trump proclaimed, "We're going to deport them in a very humane fashion." I'm sorry, but isn't that what Hitler said?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Pre-Debate Rap-Up

By the time this clairvoyant column hits the streets, the first Fox News/Facebook debate between the eighty-seven declared GOP candidates will have already taken place. But just like Nostradamus, I already know what's going to happen. The Fox clan will determine the top ten contenders for a podium by their popularity rankings in the latest national polls, which coincidentally, is the same way they do it on American Idol. My question is why is Facebook co-sponsoring a debate with Fox News? For that matter, why does Facebook discipline the common, daily offenders of decency but gives an account to ISIS? Fox News boss Roger Ailes has chosen crack journalists Bret Baier, Megan Kelly, and Chris Wallace to be the ringmasters of this circus and since the bottom three contestants are statistically even, Ailes will probably pick who he considers to give the best television. This is definitive proof that the de-facto leader of the Republican Party is Fox News. For those unfortunate seven lower tier candidates who couldn't sit at the grown-up's table, Fox will provide a forum at an earlier hour. But we all know that they're saving prime time for the eagerly anticipated premier of the Donald Trump Show.

So my crystal ball has told me what the Top 10 will say, starting with,
Donald Trump: The darling of the Tea Party and low-knowledge voter will make an attempt at dignity until someone points out what an asshole he is, then Trump will go off and call everyone a loser and a horrible person and make very damaging remarks about some opponent's personal life. He'll insist that he's a nice person and that people like him, sort of like Al Franken minus the humor. Then he'll rail about "illegals," and try to justify his comments about rapists by citing the abhorrent singular murder in San Francisco. He'll build an impregnable fence, but it will be the classiest fence ever built. It's time to put a winner in the White House. The four personal bankruptcies and three wives were just a speed bump.

Scott Walker: The wildly unpopular governor of Wisconsin will mention that he's already won two elections, although one was a recall prompted by the signatures of thousands of angry citizens who mobbed the Capitol Building in Madison. The recall was narrowly defeated thanks to a fortune in Koch brothers' money. He will say his comparison of protesters with ISIS was poorly worded, but if elected President, the college drop-out will immediately target this country's greatest threat- the Teacher's Union.

Jeb Bush: "The other white meat" will insist that he's his own man and will profess his love for his father and his brother without mentioning either of them by name. He'll deflect accusations of being "soft" on immigration and say that Trump's comments about Mexicans were hurtful and vulgar- only he'll say it in the nicest possible way. Bush will mention his Mexican wife and love of the Hispanic people, appealing to them by hablando un poco espanol. He will say that his remarks about his endorsement of the Iraq War and his comments about "phasing out" Medicare were taken out of context.

Dr. Ben Carson: The brilliant neurosurgeon will tell his truly remarkable story and mention his recognized excellence in his field. Then he'll compare Obamacare to slavery and the Democrats to the Nazis. He'll discuss his opposition to gay marriage and attempt to explain away the fact that he has never run nor been elected to anything. He has said, "We live in a Gestapo age (but) people don't realize it." With his fondness for Nazi references, you might let him work on your brain, but not on your country.

Marco Rubio: He will pander for the Latino vote, even though Hispanics probably know the difference between a Mexican, a Puerto Rican, and a Cuban from Miami. He'll condemn the new Cuba agreement saying Obama made a deal with a communist dictator. He will mention his parents' ordeal and when asked if he, as a freshman senator, is prepared to be president, he will compare himself to John F. Kennedy. When asked about climate change, he will say he's not a scientist and then plead for a glass of water.

Mike Huckabee: The Huck will double down on his remarks comparing the recent Iran accords to "marching the Israelis to the oven door." He will say that the president is feckless and naive and then repeat his quote, "It doesn't embarrass me one bit to let you know that I believe Adam and Eve were real people." Wait until someone tells him they were black.

Rand Paul: The Ayn Rand acolyte will first have to explain why he tried to pass a law allowing him to run for president and senator at the same time. He will discuss his opposition to Medicare and Social Security and parts of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He'll say he wants to fix Social Security but wants you to forget about his statement that "reform is going to happen and I hope it's privatization," or, "The fundamental reason why Medicare is failing is why the Soviet Union failed."

Ted Cruz: The loathsome incarnation of Joseph McCarthy will repeat his statements that, "Obama is the world's largest financier of Islamic terrorism," and, "This is an administration that seems bound and determined to violate every single one of our Bill of Rights," thus disqualifying him from further serious consideration for high office.

The other podiums will be like a game of musical chairs between Chris "Bridgegate" Christie, Rick "Oops" Perry, and John Kasich, who stands a real chance of being shunned in the state of which he is governor. A Kasich staffer summed it up when he compared preparing for these debates to getting ready for a NASCAR race when one of the drivers is drunk. After all, who would you rather watch; Donald Trump or Carly Fiorina? My prediction is that the ratings for the debate will be "yoooge" and Fox will sign all the candidates to a glorified version of the Hollywood Squares. There will definitely be a sequel and it will be bigger, classier, and more spectacular than "Sharknado-3. Did I mention Benghazi?