Sunday, August 07, 2016

Trump May Be Playing Us, But Johnny Depp Is Playing A Trumpanzee


When Trump flunked out of Fordam his notoriously racist father tried buying him entree into Harvard. Harvard's admission's office laughed (as did Princeton's and Yale's). University of Pennsylvania had a kind of "trade school" program in real estate at Wharton that-- for the right price-- they would allow the young Tumpanzee to attend. So, technically, Trump can claim he went to an Ivy League school. Technically.

Harvard just rejected Trump again. The Harvard Republican Club-- the oldest college Republicans’ club in the U.S.-- has endorsed every single GOP nominee for the last 128 years. That tradition, which started with Benjamin Harrison and included some real stinkers, from Taft, Coolidge, Hoover, Landon and Willkie to Nixon (3 times!), Goldwater, Dole, and the Bushes-- just went up in flames as the club voted to not endorse The Donald. "Trump," wrote the Executive Board, "holds views that are antithetical to our values not only as Republicans, but as Americans. The rhetoric he espouses-- from racist slander to misogynistic taunts-- is not consistent with our conservative principles, and his repeated mocking of the disabled and belittling of the sacrifices made by prisoners of war, Gold Star families, and Purple Heart recipients is not only bad politics, but absurdly cruel." But they were just getting started. There were plenty of more reasons to make an exception of the Trumpanzee.

If enacted, Donald Trump’s platform would endanger our security both at home and abroad. Domestically, his protectionist trade policies and draconian immigration restrictions would enlarge our federal deficit, raise prices for consumers, and throw our economy back into recession. Trump’s global outlook, steeped in isolationism, is considerably out-of-step with the traditional Republican stance as well. The flippancy with which he is willing to abdicate the United States’ responsibility to lead is alarming. Calling for the US’ withdrawal from NATO and actively endorsing nuclear proliferation, Donald Trump’s foreign policy would wreak havoc on the established world order which has held aggressive foreign powers in check since World War II.

Perhaps most importantly, however, Donald Trump simply does not possess the temperament and character necessary to lead the United States through an increasingly perilous world. The last week should have made obvious to all what has been obvious to most for more than a year. In response to any slight-- perceived or real-- Donald Trump lashes out viciously and irresponsibly. In Trump’s eyes, disagreement with his actions or his policies warrants incessant name calling and derision: stupid, lying, fat, ugly, weak, failing, idiot-- and that’s just his “fellow” Republicans.

He isn’t eschewing political correctness. He is eschewing basic human decency.

Donald Trump, despite spending more than a year on the campaign trail, has either refused or been unable to educate himself on issues that matter most to Americans like us. He speaks only in platitudes, about greatness, success, and winning. Time and time again, Trump has demonstrated his complete lack of knowledge on critical matters, meandering from position to position over the course of the election. When confronted about these frequent reversals, Trump lies in a manner more brazen and shameless than anything politics has ever seen.

Millions of people across the country are feeling despondent. Their hours have been cut, wages slashed, jobs even shipped overseas. But Donald Trump doesn’t have a plan to fix that. He has a plan to exploit that.

Donald Trump is a threat to the survival of the Republic. His authoritarian tendencies and flirtations with fascism are unparalleled in the history of our democracy. He hopes to divide us by race, by class, and by religion, instilling enough fear and anxiety to propel himself to the White House. He is looking to to pit neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, American against American. We will not stand for this vitriolic rhetoric that is poisoning our country and our children.

...This fall, we will instead focus our efforts on reclaiming the Republican Party from those who have done it considerable harm, campaigning for candidates who will uphold the conservative principles that have defined the Republican Party for generations. We will work to ensure both chambers of Congress remain in Republican hands, continuing to protect against executive overreach regardless of who wins the election this November.

We call on our party’s elected leaders to renounce their support of Donald Trump, and urge our fellow College Republicans to join us in condemning and withholding their endorsement from this dangerous man. The conservative movement in America should not and will not go quietly into the night.

A longtime student of American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville once said, “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

De Tocqueville believed in the United States. Americans are a decent people. We work hard, protect our own, and look out for one another in times of need, regardless of the color of our skin, the God we worship, or our party registration. Donald Trump may not believe in that America, but we do. And that America will never cease to be great.
Friday, writing at Salon, Chauncey DeVega likened the Trumpanzee campaign to an especially gruesome car wreck. "The American corporate news media-- and many among the public, on both the left and the right-- are participating in an act of political rubbernecking. They are transfixed by the skid marks on the road and the broken bodies lying nearby. Liberal schadenfreude is also compelling; the apparent implosion of the Republican Party under the boot heel of Donald Trump is transfixing."
The headlines provide ample evidence of these raw pleasures. They read, “Donald Trump is destroying the Republican Party,” “Republicans are Plotting an Intervention,” “Is Donald Trump throwing his campaign?” and that he is causing a “freak-out” by pushing the GOP to its “breaking point.”

...Trump is a reality TV show celebrity. The “reality” in “reality TV” is itself a lie. Trump knew that he could play on emotion and his status as a “successful” celebrity to win voters. In all, he is a fantasy projection and avatar, a professional wrestling political performance artist.

Media scholar Neil Postman’s warnings about the perils of distraction, entertain, politics, and spectacle have also been shown to be prescient in terms of explaining the allure of Donald Trump. Writing at CNN, Will Bunch explains:
The amazing part is that way back in 1985-- the year Stern conquered the New York airwaves and a brash young Trump was best known for breaking apart the upstart USFL football league-- one prophet predicted today’s political crisis. That prophet’s name was Neil Postman, a New York University professor and media critic. His landmark book Amusing Ourselves to Death predicted that schlock entertainment values would eventually strangle American democracy like a cluster of poison ivy.

Postman’s thesis was that the ominous warnings of an Orwellian future, complete with totalitarian censorship, had badly missed the mark. “Censorship, after all, is the tribute tyrants pay to an assumption that the public knows the difference between serious discourse and entertainment-- and cares,” the media theorist wrote. “How delighted would all the kings, czars and fuhrers of the past and commissars of the present be to know that censorship is not a necessity when all political discourse takes the form of a jest.”

It’s unlikely that Trump has ever read Amusing Ourselves to Death, [Trumpanzees don't read books] but his ascent would not have surprised Postman (who died in 2002).
The pollsters and statisticians are predicting that Trump will lose the election to Hillary Clinton. But of course, this hinges on how one defines “lose.” Donald Trump will likely find a way to financially profit from his political adventure, his supporters are giving him millions of dollars, his narcissism has been further expanded and fueled, and if this was all just an elaborate hustle, Trump has, in many ways, lost nothing and gained much.

But this is a bizarre political year where the normal rules have apparently been suspended. Rationality must sometimes surrender to emotion. Trump’s supporters do not care about his policy expertise or knowledge. They love Trump because he makes politics “fun” with his attacks on “political correctness,” incitements to violence, and professional wrestling style carnival barker speeches. In the era of the 24/7 cable news cycle, a public with a profoundly limited attention span-- and where they receive immediate pleasure and dopamine hits from the distractions provided by their cell phones and “likes” on social media which they, in turn, use to drown out the anxieties of living in a culture of cruelty and under the neoliberal nightmare-- I worry that a type of political decision-making predicated on “fun” is not an outlier.

If the American people in this moment of populist upset and rage want “fun” they will not choose the boring competence of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. Donald Trump is the most entertaining thing in American politics today. Both the corporate news media and many millions of the American people know this to be true.

As the old saying goes, the big story is not when the plane lands safely but when it crashes. As such, political rubbernecking is great sport and entertainment.

Donald Trump is exploiting this fact to the maximum.
That said, I want to implore you to go back to the top of this post and watch the movie I embedded, the Funny or Die film Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal: The Movie, directed by Ron Howard and starring Johnny Depp as the Trumpanzee. It was released in February. How did you miss it?

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At 10:12 AM, Blogger Jay Schiavone said...

I attempted to view the embedded video, but I could't get through the overlong commercial from CBIA, an anti-tax group here in my state. It would seem that this group wants to close schools here in order to attract voracious frauds like Donald Trump.

At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quote: " ... the established world order which has held aggressive foreign powers in check since World War II."

That's excepting the exceptional USofA, of course.

John Puma


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