Alden Graves | Graves Registry: Presidential posturing from a great pretender


Did you ever notice how Donald Trump measures the success or failure of everything in terms of the money it generates or loses? It is as if his brain only functions as a calculating machine. In fairness, this money mania has probably been drummed into his consciousness since the first silver spoon was held up to his mouth.

His response to any negative media coverage inevitably begins with the exhortation that the source of the criticism is "low-rated" or "failing," as if the application of those two adjectives are automatic disqualifiers as far as being able to make informed judgments. Unless you are making big bucks in Trump World, you aren't entitled to an opinion that is worth taking seriously.

During his guided tour of a poor Detroit neighborhood, Trump's first response to the woman who owns the home where Ben Carson spent his childhood was, "It must be worth a lot of money now." Although I am happy to say that I don't really understand how Mr. Trump's thought process works, I'm assuming he was referring to the fact that Dr. Carson's bewildering celebrity has increased the site's property values (Some day, it might be included on the National Registry of Homes of Really Scary People along with Trump Tower and the Bates Motel).

There were no questions posed to the lady on how, as president, he might improve the quality of life in depressed, run-down neighborhoods. There wasn't even a congratulatory comment on the lofty heights Carson had attained from such humble beginnings. Only an instinctive evaluation of the place's potential for generating money.

In geographic terms, Trump's popularity with African-American voters is roughly on a level with the Mariana Trench. Evidently, some determined sycophant on his staff has managed to convince him that he isn't going to win the election in November by counting on massive support from the devoutly dissatisfied or from people who think membership in one of his golf courses is as close to Heaven as any mere mortal should hope to reach.

Still, one can only imagine the degree of inbred distastefulness that must be stirred in a man like Trump by having to risk getting his Trump suit dirty by striding through neighborhoods that have been nurtured by the Trump-scale greed that has been ravaging America since Ronald Reagan played his greatest role. While he rails against outsourcing jobs to other countries at the expense of American jobs, odds are that the endangered suit Mr. Trump was sporting in Detroit was made in Mexico and the Trump shirt was manufactured in Bangladesh in a sweat shop not all that different from the one that went up in flames in 2012, killing 112 workers.

Trying to look presidential himself, Mr. Trump paid a quick visit to Mexico recently for a visit with President Enrique Pena Nieto. Mr. Pena Nieto, who is already wildly unpopular in Mexico, incurred more national wrath by inviting a man who has used the vilification of immigrants in general and Mexicans in particular as a foundational issue in his campaign.

Trump maintained that the meeting was very cordial and that no substantive discussion was made about his dopey notion to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. (That's what he does, you understand. He builds things.) Mr. Pena Nieto had a different version of what was said. He reiterated his country's adamant refusal to consider paying for a lunatic's pipe dream.

Given Trump's reputation for dispensing evasions and lies, and the fact his wall obsession would be of paramount importance to the head of the nation it was designed to grossly insult, I think that Mr. Pena Nieto's recollection might be a bit more credible, even if it casts some doubt on Mr. Trump as a master negotiator.

A few hours after the momentous meeting, which may cause Pena Nieto's party to lose the next general election, Trump was back dispensing his homespun brand of hate and bigotry in Arpaio country, where he must feel right at home.

People of Trump's ilk can't afford to compromise their own estimation of success by taking into account the swath of devastation they have cut in other people's lives to attain it. A deadly fire in Bangladesh means no more to him than jobs lost to Bain Capital's machinations meant to Mitt Romney. They never have to look their victims in the eye or actually behold the debris of destroyed lives.

Pope Francis' canonization of Mother Teresa on Sept. 4 couldn't have come at a more opportune time. It is nice to be reminded that occasionally we are blessed with the presence of some profoundly good people in the world, too.

— Alden Graves is a regular Banner columnist.

The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bennington Banner.


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