Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tomthemick@gmail.com

Monday, August 31, 2015

What's the Attraction?


Looking, as he does, like Mussolini with an orange pompadour, I found it hard to take Donald Trump seriously. For the past few months, however, I’ve been watching, fascinated, as he deals with criticism from members of our media elite who have long taken themselves too seriously.

He deals with them as a parent might deal with a confused adolescent, and I have to say I’m beginning to like him. He baffled NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet The Press last week when he said about illegal immigrants: “They have to go.”

Todd interrupted him saying: “So, you’re going to split up families…”

“Chuck,” said Trump, but Todd interrupted again, saying “You’re going to deport children?”

“No, no,” said Trump. “We’re going to keep families together. We have to keep the families together.”

Todd interrupted again. “But you’re going to keep them together — out?”

“They have to go,” repeated Trump.

“What if they have no place to go?” said Todd, interrupting yet again.

“Chuck,” said Trump — this time putting his hand on Todd’s arm in an attempt to get him to stop interrupting, “We’ll work with them, [but] they have to go. Either we have a country or we don’t have a country.”
And there it was — a simple, common-sense statement that summed up the whole issue. Either we have a country or we don’t have a country. That’s how Trump is. He speaks extemporaneously. He doesn’t travel with a teleprompter like our dear leader in the White House. He doesn’t read speeches prepared by others. He doesn’t work from note cards. He talks. He explains. When questioned he comes back with real answers, not equivocations.
Pundits on both the left and the right are baffled. They said Trump’s popularity was a flash in the pan and he would soon flame out. I thought so too, but he hasn’t. During the first debate, the three moderators from Fox News were loaded for bear and they blasted him from the starting gun, but he hung in there and even started turning it around on them. That was when I realized what was happening.
Trump’s growing support is not unlike the phenomenon we called “The Tea Party” a few years ago. That same exasperation with Washington is out there, but now it is without a name. Trump’s support is made up of people who are sick of the status quo. They elected a House Republican majority, then a Senate Republican majority, but those Republicans aren’t doing anything to stop our runaway government the way they promised they would. They’re right in it with the Democrats.
What the Tea Party got from the Republican Establishment

If there’s one thing the federal government is supposed to do, it is to police our borders — prevent invasion. But we have been invaded by more than 30 million illegal aliens and neither political party is doing anything stop it. They believe Trump will, and they’re getting behind him.
Standing in Nogales, AZ looking across border

Five years ago, I went down to the Mexican border to see for myself what was going on. I rented a jeep and drove along our side of the fence in Nogales, Arizona. The first Border Patrol Agent I spoke to was from Lisbon Falls, Maine and he confirmed to me that the chaos I saw was just how it was down there all the time. He warned me that it wasn’t safe for me to even be there, and I was standing on American soil!
About a month later I was invited to voice a conservative viewpoint on a local [New Hampshire] television show. “Do you represent the Tea Party?” the host asked me.

“No,” I said. “The Tea Party is an amorphous group without official leaders or representatives or any real organizational structure, but my views are representative.” Then I explained that we believe the Constitution is being ignored by the federal government, which is seizing too much power and needs to be cut back.
Whatever the movement comes to be called this election cycle, it’s already having a huge impact on the presidential race. Templates used to analyze past races don’t apply to this one, and pundits are baffled. Republicans are led by Trump, but right behind him is another non-politician: neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Behind him, non-politician and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is rising steadily.
Over on the Democrat side, it’s all senators and a governor, but perceived as an outsider because he’s a socialist, Bernie Sanders is coming on strong. One thing he has in common with Trump? He says what he thinks and eschews professional handlers. Ordinary people in the “way down here” like that because they’re sick of political rhetoric. The pundits are still shaking their heads over how Maine Governor Paul LePage ever got reelected. He’s another guy who says what he thinks and people like that. He also does things, his favorite motto being: “When all is said and done, a whole lot more is said than done.”

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Fred said...

I really do respect politicians (or anybody) or says what they feel in a straightforward manner. So far though I do not see much of the "explaining with real answers" coming from Trump. Far from it. What we seem to get is vague generalities "get em out and keep em out". Fine, but let's hear some details, sone costs, some methods of accomplishing this. With Bernie Sanders you get much more thought out, nuanced answers - real plans and details. He knows his stuff.

Liberals are elated with Trump and what he is doing. Their dream is that he will win the Primary. Be careful what you wish for, right? Personally though, I see no chance whatsoever that he can win the general election....unless he runs against Hillary and her email troubles sink her ship. Even then though Trump and his blowhard ways also seem doomed to fail. Yes, we like bluster and big talk, but I feel Trump will not be able to keep his big yap shut enough to not say more incredibly dopey things. We'll see, it should be interesting.

Bottom line - people love it when you say what you think, but if too much of what you say shows you to be a big A-hole, then it's game over.

Incredible that the election of our President has come down to getting ratings on this Reality TV world we live in.

8/31/15, 3:56 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

It's hard to argue with your comments, Fred. Yes, he's a blowhard. That's exactly the word chosen by a friend who was a successful businessman in NYC and ran in some of the same circles. Could he win the general election? I don't think so for just the reasons you mention.

What he's doing is putting some spine in the other candidates who see how he handles the media, and that can only be good. When I saw Chris Christie on Fox News Sunday yesterday, he was on fire. Where did that come from? I think it's from watching Trump. It's time to take the gloves off and throw some punches, not keep dancing around with weak jabs. Put the mainstream media on its heals. Ratings are plummeting for them as much as they are for Jeb and Hillary. Stay away from politically correctness.

My fear is Trump leading a third party this time next year, but I'm actually of two minds with that too. I'm very close to giving up on Republicans. Depends on who they nominate. I could live with Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, or even Marco Rubio, but I don't know. I'll be sitting in on an interview with Rand Paul tomorrow. I'll get a chance to ask questions of others soon too. I suppose we could end up with another 1824 when it was decided by the House.

If another Democrat wins and the Republicans don't grow a pair in Congress, I'm not sure the republic will survive four more years which would be the time required for a strong conservative third party to emerge. Are you suggesting you could live with a socialist President Sanders?

8/31/15, 5:35 PM  
Blogger Tracker said...

Everyone asks where is Trump's plan, but no one requires the same from the other candidates. Trump has given more details than any of th err other Rs. At least he proposes doing something about the alien invaders. The rest of the spineless GOP have proposed nothing.

8/31/15, 6:06 PM  
Anonymous Fred said...

My thoughts on choosing a president have always leaned much more towards integrity of character rather than their "platform" and talking points, because I find it is just that, stuff that they think they need to say to get elected. I like that Trump has brought the process of selecting candidates out the secret smoky back rooms where the establishment decides who will be their "face", but I feel that Trump himself is too much about "Trump" and not necessarily what is best for the country. I'm not sure how much I trust him. Sanders strikes me differently. I try to go see any candidate that comes to our area to get a read on them. When I saw Sanders recently in Conway he struck me as the real deal - the rare politician that puts out his ideas, and not the ideas of handlers, is passionate, and wants what is best for the country. As far as the "socialism" aspect, I am not much for getting scared by labels. With the power that a president has, he will not turn our country socialist if he wins. Yes, he will try and incorporate some socialist-leaning ideas, but I will judge each idea on its own merit. One thing that draws me is that I really do agree with one of his main ideas, that money plays way too much of a role in selecting our leaders. Then again, can I really go into that booth and vote for him? I am not yet prepared to make that decision. Besides, he too, like Trump, has virtually no chance to win a general election. Old. Jewish. Socialist. Too many strikes against for most of the population. A real scandal had better surface with those emails or we will be looking at a Hilary win.

8/31/15, 6:06 PM  
Blogger Tracker said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/31/15, 6:06 PM  
Blogger rhondajo said...

About Carly, have your read the speech she gave just two weeks after 9-11? The speech extolled Islam, saying that it was the greatest civilization in history. I have struck her off of my list, sadly, because I really did like her. Google "Carly Fiorina, Islam the greatest civilization". There are several links to it.

8/31/15, 8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Democracy, especially in the United States, is a farce, vomiting up right-wing demagogues such as Donald Trump, who has a chance to become the Republican presidential nominee and perhaps even president, or slick, dishonest corporate stooges such as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and, if he follows through on his promise to support the Democratic nominee, even Bernie Sanders. The labels “liberal” and “conservative” are meaningless in the neoliberal order. Political elites, Democrat or Republican, serve the demands of corporations and empire. They are facilitators, along with most of the media and most of academia, of what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of “inverted totalitarianism.”

The attraction of a Trump, like the attraction of Radovan Karadzic or Slobodan Milosevic during the breakdown of Yugoslavia, is that his buffoonery, which is ultimately dangerous, mocks the bankruptcy of the political charade. It lays bare the dissembling, the hypocrisy, the legalized bribery. There is a perverted and, to many, refreshing honesty in this. The Nazis used this tactic to take power during the Weimar Republic. The Nazis, even in the eyes of their opponents, had the courage of their convictions, however unsavory those convictions were. Those who believe something, even something repugnant, are often given grudging respect..."
Chris hedges truthdig.com

9/1/15, 6:36 AM  
Anonymous Fred said...

One issue that I am on board with Trump is his desire to stop corporate tax loopholes and bring the hammer down on "unpatriotic" companies that go overseas for cheap labor and tax purposes.

9/2/15, 12:07 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I agree with those of you who say the popularity of Trump, Carson and Sanders is due to their image as DC outsiders. To paraphrase a great quote, Trump, Sanders and Carson represent giant middle fingers to DC. We’re tired of ineffective politicians who work for their campaign first, their party second and this country third. However, I’m still not convinced Trump has any intention of trying to actually become president. If he becomes President, will he really divest himself from Trump Enterprises for 4 to 8 years? What if his businesses start to seriously suffer? What if his interim replacement turns out to have a Jared Fogle side to him? What if his business suffers any one of innumerable, catastrophic problems? Is he really going to fully attend to Presidential matters if his businesses start to erode or crumble or lose significant value? My prediction for him is he’s going to continue to push immigration, making sure it’s the marquee issue through the debates. When an opportune time occurs to drop from the race, he’ll take it and spend months congratulating himself for forcing the immigration issue. Think back to his forays into birtherism. He was a birther even when the birthers were like, “All right fellas, I think we’re getting a little carried away with this birther nonsense.” He said he had a team of researchers in Hawaii investigating Obama’s birth certificate, and said “They can’t believe what they’re finding.” A few days later, Obama release it, and Trump congratulated himself for being that catalyst. Obama released his cert of live birth in 2008, which only added to the absurdity of the situation. Trump is a showman, a reality star, and I just can’t take him seriously.

I get the allure of Sanders. A friend of mine – a devoted liberal and very politically astute – described Ralph Nadar in 2000 as being incorruptible. I got his point, and it feels like Sanders can be described in the same way. It just feels like he isn’t influenced by big-money contributions and genuinely advocates ideas and lets supporters coalesce behind him. Clinton said that Americans will vote for strong and wrong over weak and right.

But, with of the uncertainty and excitement is this election cycle, it’s probably just going to be Bush and Clinton winning their respective primaries.

9/2/15, 5:41 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

I really hope you're right, Steve -- that he's in it just to push the immigration issue. He has done that, and bragged about it too. It's the biggest sleeper issue of the campaign and whoever takes over with it will do well with both Democrats and Republicans. If he does a third party run as that other billionaire, Ross Perot, did in 1992, it will very likely hand the White House to the Dems for another four years at least and the open borders we see now will continue.

It's hard to imagine how Trump could win a general election. Yes, the prospect of leaving his businesses in a blind trust might scare him, but his enormous ego is getting bigger by the day and I'm afraid that will be the trump card, if you don't mind the pun. He's addicted to the adulation. His is the biggest of the field, and that's some stiff competition. He may not be able to resist a third-party bid.

On the other hand, as a conservative my faith in the Republican Party as a vehicle for the right is at a very low ebb. Perhaps a third party is the way to go, but not with Trump as the leader. Ted Cruz, Jim Demint, or several others would be appropriate, but definitely not Trump.

9/3/15, 8:13 AM  

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