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Abdul-Jabbar writes: "The two approaches reveal the difference between a mature, thoughtful and intelligent man, and a man whose money has made him arrogant to criticism and impervious to feeling the need to have any actual policies."

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. (photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. (photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

This Is the Difference Between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders

By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, The Washington Post

02 September 15


rnest Hemingway once said that courage was “grace under pressure.” Two presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, have recently tested this proposition. And how each man responded revealed the type of person he is and the type of president he would make: Trump authored his own doom, and Sanders opened immense new possibilities as a compassionate person and serious candidate for president.

Here’s where it went fatally wrong for Trump. During the GOP debate on Fox, when Megyn Kelly famously queried him about his attitude toward women (whom he has called “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs” and “animals”) he hit back by threatening the questioner: “I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.”

Bad enough to alienate women in this way, but there’s even more insidious political crime here: attacking the First Amendment’s protection of a free press by menacing journalists. “I wouldn’t do that,” he said coyly. If you wouldn’t do it, why bring up that you could? For no other reason than to stifle other journalists who might want to ask tough but reasonable questions. If Americans learned that a leader in another country was threatening reporters, we would be outraged. Yet here it is. Right here. Right now.

Later, after Trump had blamed her attitude on her menstrual cycle, Kelly went on what Fox says was a planned vacation. Nevertheless, Trump suggested he may have been the cause. What kind of candidate takes credit for bullying the media? And last week, Trump allowed Univision reporter Jorge Ramos to be ejected from a press conference for asking questions about immigration without being called upon. Ramos was later readmitted and permitted to ask about immigration, during which he said Trump could still deport immigrants compassionately. “I have a bigger heart than you do,” Trump replied. Trump’s non-specific answer to the question ended with a personal insult directed at the reporter.

Trump’s vendetta against the press extended to the Des Moines Register. When the paper issued an editorial calling for Trump to withdraw from the campaign, he refused to give the paper’s reporters credentials to attend his campaign event in Iowa in July. He also called the paper “failing” and “very dishonest.” Other journalists he thinks have treated him harshly he refers to as “losers” or unintelligent, as if the definition of lack of intelligence is to not agree with him.

Attempting to bully the press to silence criticism of him is anti-American. He followed up this salvo on the First Amendment with a strike at the 14th Amendment, asserting that he’d like to deny those born in the country their citizenship. The biggest enemy to the principles of the Constitution right now is Trump.

Trump’s rationale for avoiding Kelly’s debate question – that neither he nor America has time for “political correctness” – taps into a popular boogeyman. The term “political correctness” is so general that to most people it simply means a discomfort with changing times and attitudes, an attack on the traditions of how we were raised. (It’s an emotional challenge every generation has had to go through.) What it really means is nothing more than sensitizing people to the fact that some old-fashioned words, attitudes and actions may be harmful or insulting to others. Naturally, people are angry about that because it makes them feel stupid or mean when they really aren’t. But when times change, we need to change with them in areas that strengthen our society.

It’s no longer “politically correct” to call African Americans “coloreds.” Or to pat a woman on the butt at work and say, “Nice job, honey.” Or to ask people their religion during a job interview. Or to deny a woman a job because she’s not attractive enough to you. Or to assume a person’s opinion is worth less because she is elderly. Or that physically challenged individuals shouldn’t have easy access to buildings. If you don’t have time for political correctness, you don’t have time to be the caretaker of our rights under the Constitution.

It’s easy to buy into the Trump mirage because his rising poll numbers indicate he’s actually doing well. But polls are historically misleading, and his supporters will eventually desert him. Many, such as Tom McCarthy in the Guardian, have laid out the statistical reasons Trump can’t win, complete with graphs that show polls from past presidential candidates who were doing even better than Trump at this stage of an election, only to fade into political irrelevance, like Rudy Giuliani, Howard Dean and Ross Perot. In 2008, Hillary Clinton was also a front-runner who unexpectedly got beat for the nomination by Obama.

Americans may flirt with the preppy life of the frathouse partier because he’s poked sacred cows, said stuff we all wish we could say (except that reason keeps us from doing it), and acted buffoonishly entertaining. But when you wake up the next morning and he’s saying you’re now in a four-year relationship, reason comes rushing in, and it is time for the “it’s me, not you” speech. With over a year until the elections, there are too many Republican hopefuls that dilute the polls. Once the herd thins out (Rick Perry seems out of money; Bobby Jindal out of breath; Huckabee out of touch), other candidates with more substance will have their voices heard. And when it comes down to just three or four candidates, Trump’s blustering inarticulation and dodging of questions will seem untrustworthy.

Although each absurd, uninformed or just plain incorrect statement seems to give Trump a bump in the polls, there are only so many times supporters can defend his outrageous assault on decency, truth and civility. Yes, a few will remain no matter what. (One 63-year-old woman told CNN that the Republicans were out to discredit Trump: “They twisted what the words were, because they’re trying to destroy him.” No one has to twist his words because what he says is twisted enough. He speaks fluent pretzel.) But voters will eventually see the light.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders faced his own challenge at a political event last month, when two African American women pushed in front of him to use the microphone to demand four and a half minutes of silence to honor the death of Michael Brown. Sanders left the stage and mingled with the crowd. Later, Trump criticized Sanders as being “weak” for allowing them to speak, but truly he showed grace under pressure by acknowledging their frustration and anger. Instead of bullying their voices into silence or ridiculing them as losers, pigs or bimbos, Sanders left. After all, it was not his event; he was a guest. Besides, his voice was not silenced, but came back booming even louder: The next day, Sanders posted a sweeping policy of reform to fight racial inequality. (The timing coincided with Michael Brown’s death and had nothing to do with the two women.)

The two approaches reveal the difference between a mature, thoughtful and intelligent man, and a man whose money has made him arrogant to criticism and impervious to feeling the need to have any actual policies. Trump threatens to run an independent campaign (he won’t; that’s a negotiating ploy). Trump is a last-call candidate who looks good in the boozy dark of political inebriation.

There’s a lot of complaining about the lengthy process in the United States of winnowing candidates, but this year has shown its great strength. It gives a wide variety of people the chance to have their voices heard, and it gives voters a chance to see the candidates over a period of time when their political masks slip. Some rise to the challenge, others deflate under the pressure of nothing to say.

Two roads diverged in a political wood, and one man took the road of assaulting the Constitution and soon will be lost forever. The other will be a viable candidate who, regardless of whether he wins the nomination, will elevate the political process into something our Founding Fathers would be proud of. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+116 # ritawalpoleague 2015-09-02 11:41
Something I learned, as a sophomore at the Champaign-Urban a Univ. of Illinois, while taking two years of the liberal arts curriculum needed to enter into study of journalism/comm unications, and get a bachelor's degree in same:

Change does not come from a 'central' method of operating, but rather it comes from a determined extreme approach. How do we apply that knowledge to today's so dire need for change?

Answer: Help all we can to get Bernie Sanders nominated and elected. Unlike Hillary Clinton, he is a far left Scandinavian style socialist, who for decades has proven himself, unfailingly, to be a true, extreme people server, with a greater than great amount of ethics, intelligence, and compassion.

No surprise that his gatherings, over and over and over, turn out massive numbers of dedicated plus supporters. So many here in the U.S. (and, across the globe) know how desperate the need is to get the 'greed and need for power over all' evil/actual 1% rulers, along with their puppet clown politicians, out of their total control of us/U.S. And, unlike Hillary, Bernie is extremely bent on bringing about so needed, extreme change. He does not have 'puppet strings' that the 1% politician buyer offers endlessly pull these days. In other words, he's rare and extreme, and.....

+13 # Dongi 2015-09-03 04:29
Very well done. Bravo!
+2 # Vegan_Girl 2015-09-05 18:09
I almost completely agree. Just one exception.

Bernie is not far left. The USA elite and government is far right, so even the center appears far left to THEM. What Bernie Sanders is proposing, are modest reforms that would mitigate the worst excesses of unfettered, unregulated capitalism.

We do not have a far left candidate. We do not have a candidate who wants to nationalize banks and fossil fuel industry, who wants to nationalize the private property of tax-dodging billionaires. We do not have a candidate proposing a maximum wage.

Bernie is really mainstream. The American people want a return to the rule of law. We want and an economic system and a government that works for all people, not just the super rich. We are not the radicals. It is the far right in power who are the radicals.
+137 # Larry 2015-09-02 13:05
I would not want to live in a country where a Donald Trump is president. More to the point, I would not want to live in a country that would elect a Donald Trump president.
+64 # reiverpacific 2015-09-02 13:14
Quoting Larry:
I would not want to live in a country where a Donald Trump is president. More to the point, I would not want to live in a country that would elect a Donald Trump president.

Sadly, there are enough chowderheads blundering about through their own history, to get him halfway there already.
It reminds me of when my wife and I were entertaining a friend from Ireland who was visiting briefly during the Cheney-Dimwits era (stolen term 2), when we were bemoaning the stealing of two elections by they, SCOTUS and the GOP dirty tricks machinery, the Irish bloke responding something like "Aye -but there were still a HELLUVA LOT of people who voted for them; that's the scary part"!
Not much has changed except that Sanders might educate a few thousand selectively educated Americans that Socialism and Democracy are in fact, most compatible.
+34 # johninnv 2015-09-02 15:58
George Karlin - Think how stupid the "average person" is and then remember that 50% of the people are MORE STUPID than that! Scary!
+58 # angelfish 2015-09-02 13:50
Bravo, Kareem! I couldn't have said it better myself! It serves to PROVE that All the money in the World can't buy you intelligence, empathy or Class! God knows intelligence is NOT a Presidential Hallmark, considering the fact that both Ronald Reagan AND George "dubya" Bush were chosen by their ReTHUGlican "King-Makers" for that office, but, for the love of ALL that's sacred, Donald Trump? HOW have we fallen so low?
+42 # bmiluski 2015-09-02 14:00
Sadly Trump's rhetoric resembles that of Adolph Hitler in his use of Jews as scapegoats and Trumps use of immigrants as the same.
Sadly, the criticisms of Trump resemble those of Hitler. And we all know what happened there.
+28 # littlebird 2015-09-02 15:43
Thank you,bmiluski, I also have seen the same. I wrote an opinion last week, pointing out the similar styles of Trump and Hitler. If you go back to the documentaries of Hitler's rise to power, you can recognize it. There was an informative article concerning an interview with Trump's first wife, in which she stated that Donald Trump liked to read Hitler's speeches and kept a book nearby to refer to. Mr. Trump is leading a gang of malcontents with promises that are unconstitutiona l and are geared to excite hate and irresponsible actions. What would happen if reporters made him answer the hard questions, instead of dodging them. I have not heard any proof, backing up the wild claims that he makes. He excites with false statements, based on what he knows his audience will cheer him for. It all breaks down to nothing that will advance our cause for freedom and well being for the USA.
+1 # Kimc 2015-09-04 23:42
Or, what would happen if reporters treated him like they are treating Bernie Sanders? I mean, just ignoring him completely. I watched CNN's election coverage yesterday morning, and there was not one mention of Bernie. It was as if he didn't exist.
-14 # insooth 2015-09-03 06:46
Comparing Trump to Hitler is the stupidest thing I ever heard. The tendency to call everyone we don´t like "Hitler" (Putin, Saddam, Kim Jong-il, ad naseum) has become embarrassingly common. In case you haven´t noticed, EVERY POLITICIAN has some scapegoat he is going to neutralize - it´s part of the game.
+7 # Jim Rocket 2015-09-03 14:00
It's not stupid. Inter-war Germany was in bad shape financially but it was still one of the worlds most educated and sophisticated democracies. Hitler had tremendous charisma that he combined with targeted race hatred to short circuit rational minds and he destroyed that democracy from the inside. Trump has the charisma and racism but he doesn't have the fanatical commitment to power or the organization that Hitler had but it's always good to use Hitler as the red line on the health-of-democ racy meter.
+46 # p4136bl 2015-09-02 14:08
Well said Kareem, as always.
+36 # kalpal 2015-09-02 14:54
Back in 2008 I said I would leave teh country if McCain/Palin were elected. I never felt that Romney was electable. I don't feel that Trump will be the GOP candidate. He is not electable because he lacks any ability to respond to questions without dismissing anyone who asks anything he lacks a prepared substantive response to. He is sure he can solve all problems yet has failed to solve all of his bankruptcies without harming lots of other people. If you can build assets on the broken bodies of others you are not a good person. You are evil and selfish.
+5 # bmiluski 2015-09-03 10:59
Unfortunately, I would almost agree with you...almost. Except for the fact that two of the books Trump has read are "Mein Kampf" and more importantly.... "The Speeches of Adolf Hitler". Take a close look at Hitler's speeches and you'll see a disturbing similarity in the rhetoric.
+28 # guomashi 2015-09-02 15:17
Trump's abuse is a large part of his appeal.

It is pointless to chide him for it when it is what gets him votes. It amounts to a gross misreading of what America actually is.

Trump appears to not tolerate any BS, and in so doing lives out the fantasies of people who are forced to swallow it daily as a way to make a living. Trump is their hero.
+17 # angelfish 2015-09-02 20:06
Quoting guomashi:
Trump's abuse is a large part of his appeal.

It is pointless to chide him for it when it is what gets him votes. It amounts to a gross misreading of what America actually is.

Trump appears to not tolerate any BS, and in so doing lives out the fantasies of people who are forced to swallow it daily as a way to make a living. Trump is their hero.

"Trump is their Hero". It doesn't say much for the American Electorate if he TRULY is, does it? Foul mouthed, Pea brained with a BIG Billfold and NOTHING else to recommend him for THE most Important Job in the World! I am mortified to see how LOW this country has been brought and how easily Americans are STILL led by the Greedsters and Trolls who ONLY exist to exploit them. Now IS the time to take this country BACK from the 1%-ers and the REAL enemies of Democracy and Fair Play by putting the ONLY man who has worked ardently for DECADES to try and make it better for ALL of us! Bernie Sanders has the Will, the Intelligence and the Heart to get the job DONE! Sadly, The ReTHUGlicans have NO-ONE who is capable of filling the position without it being Bought and PAID for by the Koch brothers and others of their ilk, to serve at THEIR will and be ever vigilant and obedient to THEM.. Be prepared, Folks! Register, and get to the Polls in 2016 and put us OUT of our misery by voting for Bernie Sanders!
+25 # wordly 2015-09-02 15:31
The press feeds on Trump. He is a marketable story. Perhaps the public would be better served if the media chose to ignore The Don, much the same way it ignores most of the declared candidates. Trump provides a lot of hue and cry signifying nothing.
+25 # diamondmarge7 2015-09-02 15:40
Bravo, indeed. This brilliant writer hits another one out of the park-or to use a metaphor more correct to his past profession, scores another 3-pointer. Wonder if this intelligent and thoughtful man would be considered Veep material? He could be our 2nd black President, and would probably govern in a thoughtful, inclusive way.
+32 # Doll 2015-09-02 15:42
"He speaks fluent pretzel", I love that comment. Thank you.
+3 # bmiluski 2015-09-03 11:00
Me too Doll.....I've gotta remember it.
+28 # johninnv 2015-09-02 15:54
Kareem - I loved to watch you as a Basketball player and now I thoroughly enjoy your thoughts and ideas on national policy and society. Keep 'em coming. And hey - Political Office?
+2 # Saberoff 2015-09-02 16:01
The more I think about this, the more convinced I am...

Trump is standing in the wings of this so-called (fixed-up) political system, just in case Bernie actually does get the nomination.

It's all about planning ahead, right?

Our nouveau fascist Americans believe they can win a war titled "Capitalism vs Socialism (for the good 'Ole USA?)"

"What did our veterans fight, and die, for anyway?"

Indeed. All that brain power (and I mean that) working, they know they're going to need a good bumper sticker; a good handle.

It's actually pretty obvious. Bernie is Public (Private) Enemy Number One! He's the only Loose Canon in 2016.

Hurry Scurry. What's the plan? This shit is getting out of hand!
+15 # Doc Mary 2015-09-02 17:55
I have to say that you are fast becoming my favorite columnist.

I too fear Trump's authoritarian stance. When he insisted that good lawyers could get around the 14th amendment, I wondered if that came from his experience that a good lawyer can always "get around" zoning laws.

I thought the assault on Ramos was worse than you described - there was no doubt the person ejecting him was "only following orders." When Trump finally DID allow Ramos to ask questions, he shouted OVER him!

The recent "anti-JEB" ad that doubled as an anti-immigrant ad was frightening. This man is both self-centered and meanspirited, and therefore dangerous. You are right to warn we need to take him seriously. [BTW, am I the ONLY person who's noticed JEB was (nick)named after a Confederate general while Daddy was trying to be a real Texan?]

Finally - thank you, thank you, thank you for actually writing about Bernie! NOBODY is covering his campaign, not even MSNBC (they covered his response to the Clinton email "scandal," but quickly cut it off and expressed disappointment when he didn't go negative).

Again, I really love your columns. Keep writing.
-13 # SBader 2015-09-02 17:58
This is no endorsement of your Republicans; and Mr.Sanders appears very progressive on many counts. However I've read of foreign policy attributed to him, vis a vis "Saudi!" Arabia, that reinforces a foreign opinion. The Reps rip off everyone and the Dems rip of "aliens" to fatten the herd in order to allow the Reps to pick their bones later on.
+8 # bmiluski 2015-09-03 11:02
+13 # travisac 2015-09-02 19:48
How eloquent, lucid, and spot-on!
Beautiful, hard-hitting essay.
Thank you!
+13 # dipierro4 2015-09-02 20:18
Mr. Abdul-Jabbar's column is far more persuasive, and more thoughtful, than the most recent one by Cornel West, who pretty much equated Sen. Sanders and Mr. Trump. Dr. West did not impress me with his thoughtfulness. Mr. Abdul-Jabbar consistently does.
+22 # SupremeCourtCoup 2015-09-02 20:41
Ladies and Gentlemen: I believe the diagnosis of Mr. Trump to be Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

In order for a person to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) they must meet five or more of the following symptoms:

Has a GRANDIOSE sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).

Is preoccupied with Fantasies of Unlimited SUCCESS, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

Believes that he or she is “SPECIAL” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).

Requires excessive ADMIRATION.

Has a very strong sense of ENTITLEMENT, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.

Is EXPLOITATIVE of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.

LACKS EMPATHY, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.

Is often ENVIOUS of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.

Regularly shows ARROGANT, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

Go Sanders! Go Socialism!
+5 # ResQ4n6 2015-09-02 21:29
KAJ, you were spot-on with this essay. Though still not ready to put my faith in ANY candidate at this point, Trump is most definitely out of the running for my small endorsement and Sanders still may yet make me believe (albeit, with unanswered questions left to be addressed). What I still find the height of reprehensible is Trump's attack on Sen. John McCain (R) on his military service, specifically his not being a bona fide "Hero" because he was captured during Vietnam. I am no fan of Mr. McCain's body politik, but that remark made me seriously question the legitimacy of Mr.Trump's candidacy. Who in their right mind (pun intended) would consider that tactic? As a Vet myself, he served himself up for harsh and justifiable criticism.
Thank you Mr. Abdul-Jabbar for these words and for being so amazing during your tenure as a Laker, which made my die-hard fan of mother vocally root you and the team on and earned this Knickerbocker fan's immense respect.
+13 # Old4Poor 2015-09-02 23:20
Well argued, but where exactly are these GOP candidates of more substance?
+11 # Dongi 2015-09-03 04:59
No one seems to notice that Sir Asshole Trump is one of the 1% ers. He is rude, arrogant, insensitive, deceptive, crude, egocentric, dodges questions, demeaning and he has lots and lots of money. Plus, he acts as a smokescreen for the rest of the republican field. Focused on his ridiculous antics, we don't notice the other clowns as easily.

Seems with so many handicapped voters in America - look at Trump's numbers - we had really better get the vote out for Sanders.

We're going to need everybody!!
0 # SBader 2015-09-03 15:32
Re my 5 negatives, has anyone actually read what Sanders says about backing Saudi's to the hilt?
0 # SBader 2015-09-03 15:35
Here's a link:
+1 # Kimc 2015-09-04 23:52
Who are Consortium News? I haven't heard of them.
+3 # Moxa 2015-09-03 20:57
Mr. Abdul-Jabbar, how about a full-throated endorsement of Bernie Sanders? He deserves it and it would help him.

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