Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Trump, Bloviating Demagogue

After a talk I gave last night on Winston Churchill, I was asked if I saw a connection between the World War II British Prime Minister and Donald Trump.  At first, I was taken aback, then realized that, having stressed some of the negative aspects of Churchill's personality--spoiled, arrogant, outspoken, immune to the feelings of others--there might be some parallel. Sir Winston could often act like an unruly child.

Of course, he was also brilliant, thoughtful, careful, and witty, with a mastery of language that he carefully honed over his long career of reading and writing--unlike Trump, the real estate mogul with no qualifications to run for the presidency.

So the question I have for the Republican Party is: why do you allow this embarrassing ignoramus to distract so much attention from the decent candidates (of which there are too many) and the issues?  Do we want to elect an unruly child, a self-centered man who bloviates, as president in 2016?

To "bloviate," I was reminded on Google, is an American coinage c. 1850, popularized by President Harding, and it means to speak endlessly in a pompous, empty way, as Trump does.  He also fits that venerable American political type, the demagogue, who avoids reason, common sense and facts to appeal to the prejudices of his audience.

Hence we have Donald ("everyone loves me") Trump famously denying the facts of Obama's birth and now mocking the war record of a hero of the Vietnam war while attacking immigrants as criminals. The result? The media, which should put him in the entertainment section (as the Huffington Post has done), loves to talk about him, the perfect cartoon candidate, and the polls so far favor him because, presumably, he "tells it like it is," irrespective of facts, reason, and taste.

Those who love Trump look past his enormous ego and love of power, his childish love of attention, and his clownish ability to say anything to get more of the attention he seems to need. They are the fools who would turn out to see the freak at the circus.

Ignorance and bigotry do not, apparently, disqualify one from running for president of the United States. When a supporter told Adlai Stevenson, "every thinking person in America should vote for you," he replied with Churchillian wit, "Madam, that is not enough: I need a majority."

We keep learning never to overestimate the intelligence of the voting public.

Since writing this, I have seen Timothy Egan's column in the New York Times, which is must reading.  His point:  What produced the boorish, buffoonish, bloviating, bigoted blowhard Donald Trump?  The right wing extremists who've taken over the GOP, insulted John Kerry by turning "Swift Boat" into a verb, and shouted "you lie!" to the President addressing Congress.  Trump is the inevitable byproduct of the manufactured anger and outrage that typifies so much blather on the right.

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