A few years back the Vail Symposium (A gathering of the rich and famous to mull over the BIG issues) had an artsy poster given to all the conference participants, attendees and the media. At the bottom of the poster were some lines from a Grateful Dead song:
The trouble with you/Is the trouble with me;
You got two eyes/But you still don’t see!
Those lines came back to me as I sat pondering the bazaar phenomena of Donald Trump leading all the other Republicans running for president. This is just mind-boggling. It defies logic and common sense. What don’t I see that apparently a fifth of self-identified Republican voters see and are captivated by?
Then several other questions popped up: The old question about does art imitate life or does life imitate art? Put in a more modern context, is politics becoming more and more entertainment and thus less relevant? Is the body politic starting to gravitate towards entertainers because politics is no longer an honorable calling and there are no political leaders today we feel we can trust?
Did Ronald Reagan start a trend? By most accounts he was seen as a successful leader, who kept California together, dared the Russians to take down the Berlin Wall, reversed America’s declining stature in the world and rebuilt our military. He was also an entertainer.
So, since there’s no one we trust and no officeholder we believe, we might as well pick someone who can keep us entertained. Correct? If that’s the criteria, then, let’s throw some other names out and urge them to run also. Kevin Spacey is doing an excellent job of portraying the ruthless, win at any cost President Frank Underwood in the current series House of Cards. Martin Sheen also did an excellent job of portraying President Joshia Bartlett in the award-winning series West Wing that ran from 1999 to 2006.
Among the reasons voters who like Trump tell pollsters why are the all too familiar phrases like “he’s not a politician,” “he tells it like it is, says what thinks and isn’t guided by polls,” “he’s rich enough he doesn’t need anyone else’s money,” “he can’t be bought,” “he’s a breath of fresh air,” and last but not least, “he tells the TRUTH!”
Really? The other night on one of this season’s last House of Cards episodes, Kevin Spacey as President Underwood, delivers a brief speech to the nation that begins “My fellow Americans, tonight I’m going to tell you something you don’t hear from politicians - I’m going to tell you the Truth!” Sound familiar? Is art imitating life, or life imitating art?
And what’s the Truth according to President Underwood? Well, folks, the truth is Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are bankrupt. Furthemore, the TRUTH is not one of us is entitled to any entitlement, according to Underwood. This does not sound like a winning platform but don’t be surprised if the Donald doesn’t adopt it.
Here’s the real Truth, my friends. This past weekend Trump in essence said Senator John McCain was NOT a true hero because he had been captured and heroes don’t get captured. In one fell swoop he insulted McCain, every veteran and every prisoner of war. Mitt Romney had it right when he said Trump had just shot himself down. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry said he had disqualified himself to run for President and should drop out. Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio agreed with Perry.
Asked if he ever asked God for forgiveness, being the true narcissistic egomaniac he is, Trump said “no.” He didn’t stop there, though. He went on to insult every believing Catholic and every Christian who believes communion is partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ. Trump referenced sipping a little bit of wine and eating the cracker.
Maybe I’m missing something and my two eyes really don’t see, but there is no way a majority of American voters is going to put such a loose cannon anywhere close to the nuclear codes.
What I do see, though, is Trump sucking air and media coverage away from the other Republican candidates, and Democrats thoroughly enjoying the consternation and disarray Trump is causing. It’s enough to make me wonder if Bill and Hillary Clinton didn’t put him up to having a little fun.