by Helena Conrad
Today we have postal votes, super delegates, and grand coalitions all designed to keep out populist candidates. All are considered legal and fair by the establishment parties.
It is clear that the politicians of the new right movements are frequently outmaneuvered. My European friends complain that Donald Trump is uncouth and unconventional, but if he did not have his own rules, playbook, airplane and money he would not be in the US presidential race at all.
Now the bullies of the Republican playground have resorted to nothing but jeers and taunts to attack his character because the usual take-down tactics have not worked. The list of adjectives and descriptive nouns used against Mr. Trump are endless, as if these school boys sat up all night with a thesaurus: incompetent, unqualified, stupid, radical, unworthy, racist, sexist, misogynist, womanizer.
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I was actually grateful that the New York Times produced its excellent expose of Mr. Trump and his women because after hundreds of hours of research and interviews they came up with nothing significant over his fifty years in the world of business, and this despite his being a media figure. The leading accusations (which they had to go back twenty-five years to uncover) were refuted the next day by his ex-girlfriend and the rest was a dreary list of people who say they may have had hurt feelings from one of his comments.
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That was it: no illegitimate children, underage prostitutes, molested schoolboys, groped maids, affairs with interns, sex parties, or even a mistress. He is no competition for Bill Clinton, Silvio Berlusconi, John Edwards, Dominique Strauss-Kahn or the countless politicians who provide tabloid news for journalists. At best it smacks a little of James Bond. True he has been married more than once but I am grateful to see a politician marry at all; in Europe half our leaders like Presidents Francois Hollande and Joachim Gauck don’t bother. Marriage is for gay people.
This was not really the raking of muck but rather the slinging of mud and it stuck as well as does uncooked spaghetti on a wall. So the New York Times did Trump a favor by opening this empty Pandora’s box.
It was also insightful to read how many women were promoted to high positions in his corporations and grateful to Trump for his help.
I cannot imagine this misfired hit-piece changes anyone’s vote. Some young people I know find him sexist, but they are on the Bernie Sanders Utopian Train Ride anyway (God bless ’em for highlighting how corrupt Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party have been) and some aging feminists I know want a woman as president, any woman, even Mrs. (or is it Ms.?) Clinton. The women of America can do much better than Hillary Clinton and I would much rather see Melania Trump as the next woman in the White House.
The endless attacks on Trump’s style rather than substance, his personality rather than policies arise because his opponents cannot attack his trademark positions. They are few, straightforward and popular. One cannot imagine Paul Ryan actually saying “We need to increase illegal immigration!” or Obama claiming “More trade deals that hurt the American worker is just the thing!” or Jeb Bush pushing for “another war in the Mideast, Iraq was great!” These ideas horrify the average American.
Because his policy positions are popular (with voters, not politicians) Trump’s opponents fall back on criticizing his character and style, like snobby wine drinkers complaining that this one has not enough body or the wrong bouquet. It has the wrong hair style and wrong hands. We don’t like his baseball cap….
So the name-calling: crass (speaks clearly), offensive (controversial), unworthy (not anointed by the party elders), insulting (fights back), confidant (confidant), unreliable (won’t take orders from the political establishment), ignorant (not an insider), stupid (see ignorant), arrogant (he’s winning and knows it), lacks judgement (see stupid), lacks strength of character (what?), and lacks the temperament to be president (confidant).
And these claims, coming from other politicians: they dislike his vindictiveness (Really? Trump has been open to working with the Republican leaders), emotional instability (because he is quick to respond), solipsism (this critic took philosophy 101), demagogy (some politician is jealous), too conservative, not a real conservative, or he might lose, or worse he might win.
My favorite is the claim that Trump cannot pass a “litmus test for character.” This is wonderful when we consider his opponent Hilary Clinton has been mired in scandals since half the voters were in diapers. Not just Benghazi, hidden e-mails, questions of espionage, and Wikileaks but Whitewater, Travelgate, Chinagate, Troopergate, Rose-Law-Firmgate, and endless scandals involving her fund raising, speeches and the Clinton Foundation. This list does not even touch upon her husband’s scandals with women and the role Hillary Clinton played in protecting him. And we are going to claim that she is the person with the integrity and character to be Commander in Chief?
I propose our Republican leaders start using some some new words to describe Donald Trump. Here is a start: smart, ambitious, hard-working, principled, successful, disciplined, energetic, honest, charismatic, strong, American and best of all PRESIDENTIAL.