Graves Registry: Putting a good face on things


British actor Patrick Stewart spotted a homeless man on the street in New Orleans. The scruffy looking fellow had a handwritten sign that stated, "Give me a dollar or I'll vote for Trump." Mr. Stewart gave the guy five bucks. That enterprising unfortunate might have discovered his own ticket to millionaire status.

Donald Trump is not only a sterling example of an arrogant American, he is the inevitable byproduct of American arrogance. But the rest of the world has noted that the most progressive nation on earth seems to be fatally smitten with a man whose abysmal ignorance may have a profound impact on their own lives as well. Trump's supporters, awash in so-called American exceptionalism, only revel in a blasé dismissal of what anyone else thinks. The fact that "they" revile him only adds to his luster.

The word "they" is very important to Mr. Trump's supporters as long as it is never applicable to them. One of the reasons that this common pronoun has such a terrifying resonance is that they themselves are facing the prospect of being consigned to its domain. Soon. It is estimated that, by the midpoint of this century, the white race will no longer hold a majority status in the United States. A lot of white folks, used to ruling the roost since the first Pilgrim set foot on Plymouth Rock, mistake Mr. Trump's bigoted, xenophobic rants as a force capable of halting the future.

Ah, but I forgot that Trump has promised to change. All the juvenile, insulting, inflammatory verbiage he has spouted so far has been a tactic employed to amass a solid base of these easily manipulated (read gullible) white people. The epic con has carried him to multiple victories in the primaries and all but assured him of winning the Republican nomination for president.

Now, his no doubt highly compensated spin merchants will play Henry Higgins and turn their street thug into a gentleman who can be presented at the Inaugural Ball. And the pall that will settle over the world will make George W. Bush's reinstitution of the Dark Ages seem like a sunny day in Piccadilly.

Paul Ryan met with his party's prospective nominee to try and iron out some of their differences, an ambition not unlike building a Lego bridge over the Atlantic Ocean. I think that Mr. Ryan has installed himself in a position far beyond his own capabilities, but when the GOP was groping for someone to replace John Boehner after his unlamented exit as Speaker of the House, Ryan, using the same coy technique that preserved Doris Day's virginity through countless movies, found himself the talking head of the party and, for some unfathomable reason, its resident "intellectual."

This odd couple met in Washington with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus positioned between them with an extra large bottle of Elmer's Glue-All. You have to wonder why anyone would be willing to accept assurances from someone who has spent his entire lifetime telling people what they want to hear in order to get what he wants. Mr. Trump not only contradicts himself with the regularity of a Rolex watch, he occasionally manages to do it in the context of the same speech.

Not surprisingly, however, Mr. Ryan emerged from the meeting infused with the same kind of hope that Neville Chamberlain must have felt after Munich. He did stop short of openly endorsing his party's albatross, conceding only that Trump was a pleasant man. That is the political equivalent of a friend telling you that the blind date he has arranged has a great personality.

For someone who has attracted a rabid following by using the bait that he isn't like established politicians, Mr. Trump is emerging as suspiciously like an awful lot of them in the worst ways possible. He is starting to troll for Big Donors, fatally compromising his vow to not be beholden to any special interests. (I have to say that I did believe that one because Donald Trump has never exhibited any interest in anyone but himself.)

He has, also, refused to release his income tax returns, using the flimsy excuse that he is being audited. Even Richard Nixon released his tax info while he was being audited. There is obviously some aspect of Mr. Trump's personal finances that he doesn't want made public. Two possible explanations present themselves if you immediately discount his claim to be a generous contributor to charitable causes. Trump's notion of a donation is to allow a round of golf to be played on one of his courses, so he can help himself to a hefty tax deduction. Trump, like Mitt Romney before him, is probably not anxious for the American public to discover that he pays less in taxes than a single mom waiting on tables at a bus stop to keep food on the table.

It would also be devastating to the monstrous ego at work here for the public to find out that this man -- his own notion of a Great American Success Story -- has vastly inflated his net worth. The only allegory for that revelation that immediately comes to mind is the Hindenburg's arrival at Lakehurst. All that hot air dissipating in mere seconds! I'm sure Trump's supporters would regard the smoking skeleton on the ground not so much as the unmasking of another lie, but as another distortion of an obviously biased media.

— Alden Graves is a regular Banner columnist.


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