Gullible's Travels

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"We won with the poorly educated. I love the poorly educated." – Donald J. Trump, presidential candidate

And yes. He actually said that.

People used to ask me quite often how I managed to come up with a subject to write about every week. Now the question has become a statement: You certainly have plenty of material to choose from every week. I think I miss the time when I didn't have so much fodder.

"Fodder" is a polite word for what Donald Trump has provided pundits over the course of his nightmarish ascension to the top of the Republican presidential heap. ("Heap," on the other hand, is absolutely appropriate.) My more faithful readers may recall a time when I was naïve enough to believe that I could just minimize him by not stating his name. That turned out to be a bit like relating a story about going over Niagara Falls without mentioning the word "water."

Trump is what he always has been, a narcissistic braggart who has parlayed an inheritance from his real estate mogul father into an empire of shameless, mind-boggling self-promotion that would cause P.T. Barnum to shake his head in wonder. But the real wonder here is the number of people who have bought into his puny pose as a great statesman. If there is ever an account of the progression of Trump's legion of rabid fans, it should be titled "Gullible's Travels."

I am, needless to say, very skeptical of Marco Rubio as possessing the stuff of presidents. But, Rubio's snarky comment that Mr. Trump would be "selling watches in Manhattan" if he hadn't inherited $200 million was probably not too far off the mark. I can't imagine anything wounding his phony charade as an astute businessman more than that particular inference. In a way, however, it was a generous assessment. When you listen to Trump's totally unfiltered stream-of-unconscious babble you have to wonder how, even having inherited $200 million, he didn't end up selling pencils on a street corner in Manhattan.

Vying for one of the most important positions in the world, Trump says nothing that is grounded in any kind of reality simply because he himself has never had to function in a reality-based world. He seems to believe that simply voicing one of his ludicrous notions validates it. His sycophants all shake their head in agreement, terrified that their paychecks might be jeopardized should they attempt to inject any sour notes of dissension into the boss's unending symphony of self-regard.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, once the predominant bully on the GOP's playground, hopped aboard the gilded bandwagon only a few days after accurately calling Mr. Trump the nation's "entertainer-in-chief." Christie had pinned all of his future hopes upon winning the New Hampshire primary. He finished sixth, in roughly the same position as a commuter's chances of crossing the George Washington Bridge in good time when the governor's henchmen were getting even for a perceived slight from the mayor of Fort Lee. Mr. Christie claimed abject ignorance, but, politically speaking, the tollgate was permanently in the locked down position. Christie was not so much hopping aboard a bandwagon as he was abandoning a sinking ship. His own.

The most commonly heard refrain from Trump supporters is their dissatisfaction with conventional politics and their admiration for his preference for speaking his own mind rather than dispensing politically correct bromides. Those are valid rationales for choosing to support a candidate and, if there was a trace of coherence in Trump's rambling diatribes, it might even be a reason to support a totally tactless person with a woeful lack of experience.

There is nothing, however, in Mr. Trump's pronouncements on the various issues facing the country today that betray the slightest clue as to how he would approach them besides the vaporous "hiring great people" line. He was a Democrat when it suited him and an Independent when that was more appealing to his quixotic nature. The Republican Party obviously provided him with his best shot at enhancing his name in the world — always the top priority — so now he is passing himself off as a Republican. He has managed to insult most of the GOP's golden calves, including the adulation of military heroes (the McCain denigration), and the undying devotion to traditional family values (three wives and counting). He never asked God to forgive him for any sins, although he stopped short of saying God had been wrong in thinking they were sins in the first place.

In one rare moment of enlightenment, he even called the party's first family to account for their culpability in initiating the catastrophic wars in the Middle East. I guess by the law of averages, even Donald Trump can't be wrong all the time.

Alden Graves is a regular Banner columnist.


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