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Intro: "I told myself that I wouldn't be dragged into Donald Trump's 'birther' cesspool, yet here I am. It became too much to ignore when he climbed to the top of the Republicans' admittedly weak field of presidential contenders and serious minds began to suggest that there was some virtue in his opportunistic vicissitudes about the president and his policy. Let me be clear: Trump's little game doesn't reflect American ideology as much as it exposes the flaws within it."

Donald Trump, says Charles M. Blow, is a member of the 'Cult of Idiocy.' (photo: Getty Images)
Donald Trump, says Charles M. Blow, is a member of the 'Cult of Idiocy.' (photo: Getty Images)



Of Donald, Dunces and Dogma

By Charles M. Blow, The New York Times

23 April 11

 

told myself that I wouldn't be dragged into Donald Trump's "birther" cesspool, yet here I am.

It became too much to ignore when he climbed to the top of the Republicans' admittedly weak field of presidential contenders and serious minds began to suggest that there was some virtue in his opportunistic vicissitudes about the president and his policy.

Let me be clear: Trump's little game doesn't reflect American ideology as much as it exposes the flaws within it.

It further exacerbates a corrosive culture on the right that now celebrates the Cult of Idiocy - from Glenn Beck to Michele Bachmann - where riling liberals is more valuable than reason and logic, and where intellectualism and even basic learnedness are viewed with suspicion and contempt.

It further advances the campaign of the rich and powerful in America to exploit the fears of those who feel most fragile in an effort to increase or insulate their fortunes.

It further enshrines the destructive pop culture dogma that fame and fortune grant moral wiggle room to flout the rules and obscure the truth.

And, yes, it further plays to the heavy racial undertones that have marked this presidency. (This was underscored in the ugliest of ways last week when Marilyn Davenport, a Tea Party activist, sent an e-mail containing an Obama "family portrait," portraying them as apes under the phrase, "Now you know why no birth certificate.")

I first met Donald Trump a couple of months ago at a cocktail party. Someone introduced us, and he immediately started in on a speech about how beloved he was among blacks. He said that everywhere he went, blacks were telling him to run for president and that some hip-hop stars had told him that he was the most popular white man among black people. (He reiterated this point last week, which was published in amNew York, claiming, "I've always had a great relationship with the blacks.")

I was stunned - a smirk frozen on my face. Why this speech? Why me?

He had made a quick racial calculation and gone for it. And, in some ways, he was right.

Yes, I am obviously black. Yes, I follow politics. And, yes, I am a fan of hip-hop - so much so that a line from Lauryn Hill's seminal 1998 work sprang to mind: "Men who lack conscience will even lie to themselves." But the egalitarian intellectual in me chafed. These were exactly the kind of racial assumptions and panderings that I despise.

Trump has made the same racial calculation about the right, and he's again going for it. Only there aren't enough of them chafing, and too many are cheering. It fits with and affirms their desire to delegitimize this president by any means necessary.

In a way, Trump is simply doing what Trump does: recognizing a branding opportunity and playing the part to seize it while simultaneously basking in the glow of his own narcissistic neurosis.

As the character Jack Driscoll says in the 2005 remake of "King Kong": "Actors! They travel the world, all they ever see is a mirror." Trump is worse still - a combination of the self-absorbed actor and the B-movie creature that some in the audience root for but most revile - a kind of King Combover.

He's a little man with little to lose. But the right is making itself smaller by applauding him, and, in so doing, forfeiting what little moral and intellectual standing that they have left.

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+22 # RSJ 2011-04-23 16:29
If Trump actually tries to get the GOP nomination, we'll soon see how little he really is worth -- it's said his main source of income is about $2 million per year from his reality show.

Not an inconsiderable sum, but not the vast millions most people believe he has. He would also be exposed as a terrible businessman -- a multiple- bankrupt so lame he couldn't turn a profit from an Atlantic City casino.

Two good reasons Trump will drop out by June when the NBC schedule is announced.
 
 
+13 # John Gill 2011-04-24 00:38
I was having a conversation with my son about this whole Trump thing, and we started tossing around an idea that's been discussed of late, that Trump, (who took a liberal stance on almost every issue across the board up until a short while ago,) might actually be playing the biggest practical joke ever. I guess I'd like to believe in the basic goodness of one of my fellow men, that he is that clever and has that kind of chutzpah. What a coup that would be. What a beautiful mind f#@k. The funny thing though, is that even if he is nothing more than a silly haired narcissistic flip flopping idiot, he's still undermining the right's chances for 2012. So I say, Bully for you Donald, you incredible gold plated wanker!
 
 
+3 # AML 2011-04-24 11:52
I think he needs $$$ so badly that he took an offer from the itchy Koch brothers to be another right wing nut like Bachmann. This is all to make Romney ( Koch's real choice) look good.
 
 
+1 # RSJ 2011-04-25 03:39
Also the ratings for his realty TV show are down. This is a great way for 'The Donald' to 'Trump' them up going into the new season.
 
 
+1 # laurnj 2011-04-24 12:21
It has occurred to me that Trump could be acting as an agent provocateur, too. I just love what you called him at the end of your comment!
 
 
+7 # James38 2011-04-24 04:29
Trump fits right in with the Palin, Bachmann, Gingrich, Giuliani, etc Wingnut Tea Party version of conservative, all of which is repugnant to the few real conservatives left. To read an excellent analysis of the dangerous insanity of the Authoritarian Religious Right, get the excellent book "Conservatives Without Conscience" by John W. Dean.
 
 
+9 # eldoryder 2011-04-24 05:57
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE......... Republican Party, run this idiot along with Sarah Palin as your ticket in 2012! This assures a second term for Obama, as the combination of the top male and female twits in the Republican Party will scare independent voters shitless!
 
 
+3 # GTrout 2011-04-24 14:11
Quoting eldoryder:
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE.........Republican Party, run this idiot along with Sarah Palin as your ticket in 2012! This assures a second term for Obama, as the combination of the top male and female twits in the Republican Party will scare independent voters shitless!


Yes - but are there enough independent voters who are not too discouraged to vote to outnumber the mega hordes of mindless knee-jerk issues voters who will flock to a Trump/Palin ticket just because they were TV stars and now parrot the key catch phrases? To paraphrase timp's point, never underestimate the electorate's cupidity.
 
 
+15 # timp 2011-04-24 09:19
I would like to agree with the benefit of running a Trump/Palin ticket in 2012 however, I remember thinking similar thoughts in 1980 when Reagan became the Republican nominee. I couldn't believe that the American public would vote for a man that thought that trees caused air pollution, that there might be intelligent life on Mars or that spent his career in B movies and peddling cigarettes. Now Reagan is revered as one of our great presidents by many. Don't underestimate the electorate's capacity for voting for goofy candidates.
 
 
+5 # Activista 2011-04-24 10:24
Comparison between Reagan and Trump is perfect. Reagan (Genocide in Guatemala) was neocon puppet (Perl etc.) - who controls Trump?
TV is OPIUM of Americas.
 
 
+8 # buesgirl 2011-04-24 10:19
A big second to "timp". Never underestimate the total ignorance (or insanity) of the American voter! I didn't think anyone with two brain cells would vote for Bush. ESPECIALLY not the second time!
 
 
+8 # genierae 2011-04-24 10:42
This country has always been based on the wrong assumptions: greed is good; competition is necessary; and its okay to destroy others to get to the top. Dog eat dog world; every man for himself. These false foundations are now breaking down, and we see all too clearly the disastrous consequences: Donald Trump for president! We have two percent of Americans sucking the life blood out of the rest of us, and destroying our environment in the process. Crooks and liars who use their money to buy politicians who are willing to be traitors to their own people. What is the true measure of a man? Is it how much money he can pile up, or is it how much good service he can render to his fellow man? A big bank account, or a generous heart? Who are the real men, the Donald Trumps of the world, or men like Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich? It is sickening to watch the corporate media bow and scrape at the feet of Donald Trump, while these two men of integrity are ridiculed and marginalized. This society doesn't deserve to survive, and the quicker it falls the better. Let it crumble into dust. Then we can build a real society, one where the common good comes first and sanity is an irrevocable requirement for holding office. That would narrow the Republican field significantly.
 
 
+4 # cycleman60 2011-04-24 12:51
This guy Tramp--or I mean Trump is a liar and fake. Read his past performance on the Internet. He claims not to have filed bankruptcy, a lie. He says he is smart, a lie. If he was as smart as he claims, he would shut his trap. He is T-Party in Trump clothing, nothing more.
 
 
+1 # RSJ 2011-04-25 03:37
Now he's claiming he only filed bankruptcy on his Atlantic City casino as a legal strategy to make money. BS -- a casino is practically a license to print money and Trump is the only guy anyone ever heard of who couldn't turn a profit from a gambling casino. He filed for bankruptcy in this case to avoid creditors -- he vastly overspent on the casino and was up to his eyes in debt.

Trump also claimed yesterday on CNN that he's a billionaire, wealthier than Romney, yet he wouldn't reveal exactly how much he's worth. He's saving it for his official filing for president which will never come. Trump is listed 94th ($2.6 billion) in the Forbes list of the 400 Richest Americans but, as Forbes acknowledges, "Complicated partnerships make ascertaining [Trump's] net worth difficult..." In other words, his name may be on the building, but the profits go to one of his creditors -- he's gone bankrupt at least three times. In its listing, Forbes credits supposed assets, but not indebtedness.
 
 
0 # in deo veritas 2011-04-26 12:02
To anyone with a functioning brain, Trump is not worth a cent. Obviously he would not want the govt to know about his "assets" for fear of an IRS audit. But really do any of the 2% vermin worry about a gutless government going after them? LOL.
 
 
+2 # newshound 2011-04-24 18:33
The persistence of the Birther crusade has to be seen in light of the larger Republican strategy to marginalize minorities and the poor. We can already see the strategy paying off in states that now require citizens to provide a birth certificate or passport in order to register to vote. The villains of 1950's noir films, the characters we used to hiss at, now run the legislatures. Your papers, please!
 
 
+1 # Cavanaugh OLeary 2011-04-25 07:49
Excellent article. However, I think Mr. Blow should have said "the campaign of certain of the rich and powerful in America to exploit the fears of those who feel the most fragile in an effort to increase or insulate their fortunes." He paints all wealthy Americans as greedy and selfish. There are many wealthy Americans who are Democrats and who spend large portions of their wealth for the benefit of the less fortunate and who do not mind paying some extra taxes to help with the country's deficit issues.
 
 
+1 # jeenious 2011-04-25 18:27
Perhaps we need to further guarantee the character of anyone who can be president of the U. S.

We should require his/her birth certificate be made a public record, accessible by anyone on the Internet, and make any error or question on it a felony;

We should require that the full details of every marriage and every divorce be made a public record, including details of all legal documents, a statement from both the presidential applicant and each former spouse. And, also, the presidential candidate should be given a polygraph test, and the opinion of the test-giver made a matter of public record, asking whether the presidential candidate cheated on any spouse while legally married. After all, a person who would lie to his marital partner, and cheat on her, would not bat an eye at lying to voters, or cheating the voters, would he or she?

Also, we shouldn't we require every presidential candidate to make every one of his or her income tax returns a public document.

As for me, I would be far more concerned about a person's lies and crimes and cheatings and law violations after birth, than prior to birth. Don't you agree?

We must deny the presidency to liars, bastards, law-breakers and those who have demonstrated a propensity to betray those they have sworn to be faithful to.
 
 
0 # in deo veritas 2011-04-26 12:05
It should be denied to them to hold ANY public office or even be allowed to stay in this country. How about a Devil's Island for those we could convict if we had a government with the guts to even indict. Maybe the World Court will help us out with Bush and Cheney for starters.
 

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