Who are these jacklegs, highbinders, wirepullers, mountebanks, swellheads, buncombe spigots, boodle artists, four-flushers, and animated cuspidors offering themselves as worthy of the nation’s highest office?
Do they take us voters for fools? Of course. But are they also deluded? Are they also insane? Are they under an illusion that they have the qualities to make a good or even adequate president? Do they imagine they possess even one such quality?
Clinton, Bush, Walker, Sanders, Rubio, Paul, O’Malley, Christie, Perry, Biden, Santorum, Cruz, Chaffee, Graham, Jindal, Webb, Pataki, Kasich, Gore, Fiorina, Huckabee, Warren, Carson, and Trump.
That’s not a list of presidential candidates. That’s a list of congressionally appointed members of a bipartisan blue-ribbon commission named to look into a question of pressing national importance such as “paper or plastic?”
Show me one candidate who has the dignity of Washington, the intellect of Jefferson, the physical bravery of Jackson, the moral stature of Lincoln, the boldness of either Roosevelt, the charm of Kennedy, the effectiveness of Johnson, the eloquence of Reagan, or the gentlemanly nature of George Herbert Walker Bush. (Although Christie does, in terms of physics, have the gravity of Taft.)
Even the nuts among the 2016 candidates do not rise to the level of the nuts of yore.
Progressive Republican Robert M. La Follette, scorned and almost alone, crusaded to keep America out of the senseless bloodbath of WWI.
Presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan thundered to the Democratic National Convention of 1896, “You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”
Carly Fiorina said, “I ran Hewlett-Packard!” (HP’s stock price dropped 41.3 percent during her tenure.)
Has the office of the presidency diminished in stature until it attracts only the midgets of public life?
Or have our politicians shrunk until none of them can pass the carnival test “You Must Be Taller than the Clown to Ride the White House Tilt-A-Whirl”?
During this endless grim, foggy, electoral season with its constant drizzle of wannabes, I intend to make little prose pictures of each candidatural dwarf until we are down to two.
I tremble for my country when I reflect that the two may be “Clinton” and “Bush.” Members of the electorate in their right minds will go into the ballot booth, see the names, think to themselves, “I did this already.” And leave with the ballot unmarked. Voter turn-out will be 6 percent. The shuttle from the local extended care facility will send a few memory-impaired Republicans to the polls. A DNC bus will collect some derelicts from skid row. And we will have the first President of the United States elected by a franchise limited to sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease and drunken bums.
Let us therefore begin at the bottom of the campaign barrel with the lees, the dross, and the dregs, by which I mean Donald Trump.
Or is Trump just using the garbage of his personality to chum for publicity again? If he isn’t really a candidate, I see no reason to take him at his word, any more than I’d take him at his word about anything else.
Besides, I, personally, support his candidacy. “Democracy,” said H. L. Mencken, “is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
The American government is of the people, by the people, for the people. And, these days, America is peopled by 320 million Donald Trumps. Donald Trump is representative of all that we hold dear: money. Or, rather, he is representative of greed for money. We common people may not be able to match Trump’s piggy bank, but we can match his piggishness.
And in this era of inflated self-esteem, which has become so fundamental to Americanism that it’s taught in our schools, we can all match Trump’s opinion of his own worth. Trump claims to be worth billions—seven of them as of 2012.
In 2004 Forbes magazine estimated Trump’s net worth to be $2.6 billion. New York Times reporter Timothy O’Brien looked into the numbers and came up with a net worth figure between $150 and $250 million. Trump sued O’Brien and lost.
Many a candidate for president has fibbed on the subject of his or her economic circumstances—William Henry “born in a log cabin” Harrison and Hillary “dead broke” Clinton. But Trump will be the first candidate to—like the American legend that he is—tell tall tales about all the money he’s got. Trump is a financial Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, and Davey Crockett rolled into one, according to Trump.
If Trump’s critics don’t think this is typical of modern Americans, they haven’t looked at our online dating profiles.
Also typical of modern Americans is Trump’s bad taste. True, he doesn’t dress the way the rest of us do—like a nine-year-old in twee T-shirt, bulbous shorts, boob shoes, and league-skunked sports team cap. And Trump doesn’t weigh 300 pounds or have multiple piercings or visible ink. He puts his own individual stamp on gaucherie. And we like it. We’re a country that cherishes being individuals as much as we cherish being gauche.
Trump’s suits have a cut and sheen as if they came from the trunk sale of a visiting Bombay tailor staying in a cheap hotel in Trump’s native Queens and taking a nip between fittings. Trump wears neckties in Outer Borough colors. And, Donald, the end of your necktie belongs up around your belt buckle, not between your knees and your nuts. Trump’s haircut makes Kim Jong Un laugh.
Americans appreciate bad taste or America wouldn’t look the way America does. And the way America looks is due, in no small part, to buildings Trump built.
In the 1970s he ruined Grand Central Station’s Commodore Hotel, turning it into a Grand Hyatt. Built in 1919, the handsome neo-French Renaissance tower was covered by Trump with cheap glazing—the epitome of seventies smoked glass coffee tables to snort cocaine from, except all its surfaces are vertical.
Then there is the brassy-déclassé Trump Tower with its horrible huge pleated façade threatening 5th Avenue with a cacophony of accordion music.
And Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, bearing the same relation to the noble white mausoleum in Uttar Pradesh as a turd bears to a prize in a Cracker Jack box.
Trump’s grandfather, a German immigrant, changed the family name from Drumpf to Trump. This was wrong. We could have had Drumpf Tower, Drumpf Taj Mahal, Drumpf Plaza Hotel, and President of the United States Donald Drumpf, heading up the Drumpf administration.
But is that a reason not to vote for Donald? No. We have to consider what kind of president he would make. What would his foreign policy be? What domestic priorities would he favor? How would he handle the economy?
On all three counts he’ll be—just like he says he is already—a big success.
Imagine the strides Trump will make in American foreign policy. He’s crazier than all the other candidates put together. He’s under the illusion that he’s 20 times richer than he is. He thinks childhood vaccination caused the movie Rain Man. He believes Obama was born to the Queen of Sheba in an H. Rider Haggard novel. Putin, Xi Jinping, Ayatollah Khamenei, ISIS, the Taliban, and Hamas will be paralyzed with fear. Who knows what this lunatic will do?
What he’ll do is build thousands of Trump casinos, Trump hotels, and Trump resorts in Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, Raqqa, Kandahar, and Gaza. Then all of them will go bankrupt the way Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza Hotel, and Trump Entertainment Resorts did. He’ll destroy the power of our foes leaving Russia trying to palm off Eastern Ukraine on angry bond-holders and China auctioning distressed property in the Spratly Islands.
Trump’s chief domestic policy will be to be on TV. That’s one more reason he’ll get elected. We can relate to Trump. The first and foremost goal of all Americans is to be on TV.
As President Trump will be able to be on TV all the time, 24/7. Just doing his hair in the makeup room during commercial breaks should keep him too busy to push other birdbrain domestic policies the way some presidents have. And he can yell “You’re fired!” as much as he wants. It will make for a healthy turnover in cabinet appointees such as Ivanka, Dennis Rodman, Larry King, and Vince McMahon.
And Trump understands the economy. He’ll push America’s economic growth forward the same way he pushed his own—with debt and more debt. Average American household debt is more than $225,000. The average American family’s credit card debt is almost $16,000. Trump restructured $3.5 billion in business debt and $900 million in personal debt between 1991 and 1994. We Americans know a leader when we see one. And we love debt. Otherwise America’s national debt wouldn’t have gone from $15 billion in 1930 to $18 trillion today. Tomorrow, with Trump in the Oval Office, the sky’s the limit.
I have a campaign slogan for Donald Trump, or maybe it’s a slogan for the entire 2016 presidential race, or perhaps a slogan for all of America these days. It’s a quotation from the essayist and poet Charles Lamb. Trump will need to Google him. Trump has written at least 18 books, leaving him with little time to read any. But we currently have an overeducated president with a 44.7 percent approval rate. What kind of big success is that?
Charles Lamb said:
If dirt was Trumps, what hands you would hold!