Maybe this democracy thing is overrated. We would like to believe that every four years, Americans go to the polls and prove that our system of government works.
But maybe this time it won’t. Maybe this time, democracy will hiccup and produce a president who is not just professionally unqualified for but also personally unworthy of the job.
I could give you a list. But I am not sure I can remember that many names.
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Let me quote a president whom Republicans still worship: Ronald Reagan. Reagan was good at the quip — “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help'” — but he was also good at what is now called “the vision thing.”
The vision thing used to be important in American politics. Now it is considered a parlor trick. If you can master it, fine. If you can’t, don’t worry. We’ll just use a video.
This is from Reagan’s last speech from the Oval Office:
“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life,” Reagan said. “After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.”
I never liked Reagan’s policies, but he knew how to rouse a nation And that last line about hurtling through the darkness toward home can still give one chills.
No Republican would say that today, of course. We don’t want to be a magnet. We don’t want pilgrims from lost places. They need a home? Fine. Let them find one — far away from us.
And who is the leading Republican this time around? And what does he say? Well, he says a great deal. Not much of it is inspirational, however.
Here is a list of Donald Trump’s greatest hits, compiled by USA Today:
— Jeb Bush is “weak.”
— Bobby Jindal is a “zero.”
— Lindsey Graham is a “total lightweight.”
— Karl Rove “is a total loser.”
— Chuck Hagel and George Will are “morons.”
— On Rick Santorum: “I have a big plane. He doesn’t.”
— On Fox News’ Megyn Kelly after the Republican debate Aug. 6: “Fox viewers give low marks to bimbo.”
— On Kelly’s returning from vacation in late August: “The bimbo back in town. I hope not for long.”
Why Trump’s dislike of Kelly? She held him to account for what came out of his mouth. He wasn’t used to that, and he didn’t like it one bit.
At the debate, Kelly had said to Trump: “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs’ and ‘disgusting animals.’ Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ it would be a ‘pretty picture’ to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?”
Trump was angry with the question and, after the debate, denied saying some of the things Kelly had accused him of saying.
So PolitiFact, a nonpartisan fact-checking agency of the Tampa Bay Times, looked into Trump’s claim that Kelly had lied. “The record, however, shows the opposite is true,” PolitiFact said. “He has said exactly what Kelly mentioned in the debate. We rate Trump’s statement False.”
There has been much written lately that the “Summer of Trump” is over — that the public finally sees through him, that his poll numbers are slipping and that people are finally waking up to his act.
This might make an ordinary candidate nervous. It makes Trump belligerent.
This is from a CNN article posted online earlier this week:
“Donald Trump admitted Monday that his rhetoric on the campaign trail may not always sound entirely presidential.
“‘Probably is a little childish,'” Trump said in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett at Trump Tower in New York. ‘But you know what? This is a campaign.'”
Heck yes! This is only a campaign! And only for the presidency of the United States!
So why get all huffy and dignified and fancy-schmancy? Treat your critics like the insects they are — especially if they aren’t rich and don’t own big planes.
Being childish is what the political process is all about. Or at least it’s what Donald Trump is all about.
Because there has never been a bigger baby running for president.
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