FACE-OFF

The Wedding That Explains the Election

Picture Hillary Clinton sitting in the front pew at Donald Trump’s third wedding in 2005: the man who boasted about how he could buy politicians, and a politician entranced by wealth.

03.17.16 4:01 AM ET

“I didn’t know him that well,” she later said. “I mean, I knew him.”

Pure Hillary.

She went on, “I happened to be in Florida, and I thought it was going to be fun to go to this wedding, because it’s always entertaining.”

Trump later told the press, “Hillary Clinton, I said, ‘Be at my wedding,’ and she came to my wedding. She had no choice because I gave to [the Clinton] foundation."

Pure Donald.

While Bill Clinton skipped the church ceremony, he attended the reception afterward at Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago. Trump later told Politico, “As a contributor, I demanded that they be there—they had no choice and that’s what’s wrong with our country. Our country is run by and for donors, special interests and lobbyists, and that is not a good formula for our country’s success. With me, there are no lobbyists and special interests. My only special interest is the United States of America.”

In truth, Trump’s special interest was and always will be Trump.  He is not likely a racist—as many charge—so much as he is a Trump supremacist. 

And, as a lifelong Trump supremacist, he contributed to whichever politicians he thought might be of use to him, regardless of their ideology.

“There is total control of the candidates, I know it better than anybody that probably ever lived,” he has said.

He has also continued to hire foreign workers and sell clothing made in China even as he gives impassioned speeches about losing American jobs and treasure to China and other foreign countries.

“I’m a businessman. These are laws. These are regulations. These are rules. We’re allowed to do it,” he said at the most recent Republican debate. “But I’m the one that knows how to change it.”

He excuses his selling out American workers and buying politicians as just part of being a winner in business. He tries to tell us that it in fact makes him a better candidate. 

“Frankly, I know the system better than anybody else and I’m the only one up here that’s going to be able to fix that system because that system is wrong,” he said during the debate.

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But knowing that the system is wrong has not kept Trump from taking full advantage of it.

He did so because his one and only special interest is Donald Trump.

How can any sentient being believe that Trump is continuing to act as anything but a Trump supremacist now that he is running for president? How can anyone think that his special interest really will become the United States of America and not himself? 

In his particular brand of supremacism, Trump makes right, even if he is playing on bigotry and fear and anger. The truth is what he says it is and anybody who seeks to contradict him with facts is dishonest.

One actual truth is that Hillary Clinton did not likely attend Trump’s wedding because he had donated to the Clinton Foundation.

Hillary was almost certainly there because she is mesmerized by wealth. She and Bill look as happy as happy can be in the photos taken with Trump and his third bride, Melania Knauss, at the reception. Hillary looks less like someone on the make than someone who wants to have made it.

A hunger for cash that seems to have made her blind to future political consequences compelled Hillary to take several six-figure speaking fees from Goldman Sachs. She pocketed $225,000 for what has been described as a “rah-rah” speech in 2013, even as the bank was seeking a multibillion-dollar settlement with the government for allegedly fraudulent practices that helped nearly wreck the global economy.

After she and her husband had made more than $150 million from peddling their presence in one place for or another, Hillary described herself as “unlike a lot of people who are truly well off.”

In contrast, Trump began his presidential campaign by declaring “I’m REALLY rich.” That helped him present himself as somebody who “tells it like it is” even though he so often tells it like it is not, never was and never should be.

At first, Hillary failed to take Trump’s campaign seriously, using the same word to describe it that she had used to describe his wedding.

“It’s all entertainment,” she told a reporter. “I think he’s having the time of his life, saying what he wants to say, getting people excited both for and against him.”

Hillary seemed to have remained untroubled by Trump’s championing of the birther movement in 2008 even after Obama released his birth certificate. Never mind that the birther stuff was really dog-whistle racism, that it really had to do with Obama being an OTHER, which is to say black. Hillary appears to have considered it great fun as Trump set about again playing on such fears.

Hillary found her outrage only when Trump became a serious contender and therefore a threat to her by further tapping into angers that extend beyond race into class. Trump was one person who intuitively understood the vehemence of the opposition to Obama had little to do with his actual performance.

At the same time, Hillary was encountering outrage within her own party over those Wall Street speaking fees. She might have been a political goner had she faced somebody less utopian than Bernie Sanders. She certainly was helped by Trump’s intransigent misogyny.

Even as his triumphs were rolling in on Tuesday night, Trump took to tweeting about Megyn Kelly of Fox News, who had drawn his ire at the start of the first Republican debate by asking about denigrating ways in which he had spoken about women. He had afterward said she had been bleeding from her “wherever.”

Kelly had been almost solicitous with Trump during a more recent debate. No matter.

“Can’t watch Crazy Megyn anymore,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday evening.

Trump then stepped supreme onto the podium in the Donald J. Trump ballroom at Mar-a-Lago, the very place where he had partied with the Clintons at his wedding. Even a megalomaniac such as Trump could not have imagined back then that Melania Knauss could conceivably become the First Tootsie.

A line of American flags were arrayed behind Trump as he stood before the crowd as the overwhelming favorite to become the Republican nominee to lead the country. A man who seeks to capitalize on the divisive passions that are contrary to everything American pledged to make America great again. A man who continues to hire foreign workers and sell items made in other countries pledged to stop the loss of American jobs and decline in American manufacturing. A man who had sought to chase away disabled veterans who dared to peddle goods on the same golden stretch of Fifth Avenue where Trump Tower stands now pledged to “take care of our veterans.”

“Our veterans are treated so badly,” Trump said.

To Trump’s right stood Corey Lewandowski, his 42-year-old campaign manager. Lewandowksi is the subject of a criminal complaint filed by former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, who charges that he manhandled her after a Trump press conference. Lewandowski and Trump both denied it ever happened, but Fields’s allegation is supported by a witness from The Washington Post, video, and a photo of bruises on her arm.

Lewandowski should have been under arrest rather than smiling onstage as his boss praised his work in the latest primaries.

“Corey, good job, Corey, good job,” Trump said.

Trump once again denounced all those who dare to speak truth to glower.

“Lies, deceit, viciousness, disgusting reporters, horrible people,” he said.

Pure Donald, who will now almost certainly face Pure Hillary 11 years after the wedding where she sat in the front row.