Blow, Kristof and Collins

Well.  The NYT columnists are all in a state of panic over Trump.  In “Demagogue for President” Mr. Blow says a nativist, sexist, arguably fascist and racist liar is the front-runner for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.  He’s right, but at least it’s not Ted Cruz.  Mr. Kristof has a conversation with an imaginary voter in “After Super Tuesday, Bracing for a President Trump.”  He says Donald Trump is a demagogue who has damaged America’s reputation, insulted women and minorities — and has a decent chance of being our next president.  And again, at least it’s not Ted Cruz.  Ms. Collins, in “Call Me Mr. Trump,” says back during “The Apprentice” and now when being introduced by a new sidekick, the gold-plated candidate has had no first name.  I do wish Mr. Kristof had managed to speak to two elderly (one’s 88, the other 76) ladies in my church, both staunch Republicans.  They’re HORRIFIED by what’s going on and would NEVER vote for Trump.  What they also understand, and will tell anyone who listens, is that while Trump is crazy Cruz is evil.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

Sometimes you have to simply step back from the hubbub and take stock, with cleareyed sobriety, at a moment in history to fully appreciate its epochal import. Now is such a time.

A nativist, sexist, arguably fascist and racist demagogue who twists the truth is the front-runner in the race to become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, over the protestations of the party’s establishment, who rightly view his ascendance as an existential threat to an already tattered brand.

He is odd and entertaining, vacuous and vain, disarming and terrifyingly dangerous.

And, according to The New York Times, he “could lock up the nomination in May” if he “keeps winning by the same margins.” Furthermore, the Republican Party is seeing record turnout on its way to this end. There is a political revolution in this country but, so far at least, it appears to be one driven in large part by the Republicans.

Let this sink in, America.

Stop thinking that it’s all a joke, a hoax, a game. It’s not. Maybe he began this quest as a branding exercise, but it has morphed into something quite real: a challenge to the collective moral character of the republic. The success of his candidacy so far calls into question the very definition and direction of America.

Later we can condemn the media for its complicity in his rise, the way we and the candidate operated in a symbiotic relationship, exchanging cheap ratings for free publicity, but it can’t be undone now. The candidate has now risen.

This is a guy who began his presidential bid by branding Mexican immigrants as drug mules, criminals and rapists.

This is a guy at whose rallies minorities have been shouted down and even manhandled — like the University of Louisville student Shiya Nwanguma— with little or no condemnation from the candidate.

This is a man who refused to immediately and unequivocally denounce and disavow the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, who said on his radio program that voting against the turgid real estate developer was tantamount to “treason to your heritage.” I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that we can safely assume that Mr. Grand Wizard emeritus meant white heritage.

Again, America, let that sink in: America’s white heritage candidate, according to the illustrious David Duke, is the person so far winning a plurality of votes in the Republican contests and collecting a large share of that party’s delegates.

Indeed, his candidacy is providing a refuge for, and giving voice to, white fear and anger over the inevitable changing demography of the country, the erosion of the center and the rewarding of whiteness as a commodity.

Anger, not policy, is in fact the cornerstone of his candidacy. His policies are carpaccio-thin. He feeds his followers vague, morning-mirror affirmations like “make America great again” and endless “winning,” while largely avoiding particulars and parrying fact-checkers and his own history of inconsistencies.

And yet, the people who support him, angry at the establishment, their own party, America itself, don’t really care. He has touched their frustration and they feel reflected in his brutishness.

But even beyond the troubling racial realities of his candidacy is the misogyny of it.

This is a man who has called various women “disgusting,” “a slob,” “grotesque,” “a dog.” And he says that he cherishes women.

His candidacy also promotes what would surely be characterized as war crimes — interrogation tactics “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” and killing the families of terrorism suspects.

Not only does he want to build a wall on the border, he wants to round up and deport those undocumented in this country, stop Muslims from entering and send back Syrian refugees.

One last time, America: Pause and let all that sink in.

I don’t want anyone to say, when we look back at this moment, that they didn’t see the signs. I don’t want anyone to feign surprise. I don’t want people to say that they didn’t take it all seriously because they had faith that their fellow citizens would somehow see the light and not allow this candidate to rise.

No. You don’t get that option. He has risen and continues to rise. Most smart money is on him becoming the Republican nominee, unless party leaders can devise some last-minute plan to blunt him.

And, it is not at all clear to me that, whoever the Democratic nominee is, she or he would have a cakewalk to an easy victory in the general election.

Say this out loud: The leading candidate for president on the Republican side is a demagogue. He is on track to be that party’s nominee. He is attracting record numbers of voters to the polls. If he wins the nomination, he could also win the presidency.

Scared yet? Good! Stop laughing this off. It’s not a joke. It’s quite real. And you need to remember the moment that you woke up and realized just how real it was.

And now we get to Mr. Kristof and his imaginary friend:

The general election campaign may have already begun.

In the aftermath of Super Tuesday election results, betting markets show Hillary Clinton with more than a 90 percent chance of becoming the Democratic nominee, and Donald Trump with at least a 75 percent chanceof emerging as the Republican nominee.

This is the most astonishing presidential election since at least 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War. The G.O.P. front-runner is reviled not only by Democrats, but also by many prominent Republicans, and has less government experience than any president in history.

Only two presidents — William Howard Taft and Herbert Hoover — lacked background in major elective office or in the military, and both had held cabinet posts. In short, a Trump presidency would be unprecedented not only for his bizarre policy positions and propensity to insult women and minorities, but also because of his staggering lack of relevant experience or knowledge.

Trump has shrewdly manipulated the news media and has proved a much more accurate reader of the electorate than we pundits. Yet I’ve never met a national politician so ill informed, so evasive, so bombastic and, frankly, so puerile.

According to Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, most Republican candidates spoke at a high-school or middle-school level in the last G.O.P. debate, based on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Index. Meanwhile, Trump spoke at a third- or fourth-grade level. After the Nevada caucuses, Ted Cruz spoke at a ninth-grade level, Clinton at a seventh-grade level — and Trump at about a second-grade level! (I checked Trump’s victory speech on Super Tuesday evening, a more moderate speech that seemed to reach for the center, and Trump had raised his rhetoric to a sixth-grade level.)

So let me engage a (imaginary) Trump voter:

Me: How can you possibly support a demagogue with less experience than any president in history?

Voter: You media know-it-alls are so patronizing! Trump has experience where it matters, making things happen in the business world. Anyway, what have experienced politicians brought us? A corrupt and broken system. Let’s try something new — and at least he’s a straight shooter.

Me: He has a reputation as a straight shooter, but he lies. When PolitiFact was choosing its “lie of the year,” it found that all its real contenders were Trump statements — so it collectively awarded his many campaign misstatements the “lie of the year” award. And in backing him, you’re pretty much guaranteeing a Hillary Clinton presidency. Indeed, because of Trump, the betting markets are now predicting a Democratic Senate as well.

Voter: Come on! Trump proved all of you pundits wrong again and again, and he’ll do so again. And even those betting markets you like to cite — they show Trump with at least a one-in-four chance of being our next president, and that’s while other Republicans are trying to rip him apart. Just wait until the party rallies around Trump.

Me: But how can you support a candidate who is so hateful? This is a man who calls Mexican immigrants rapists, who is slow to denounce the Ku Klux Klan, and who is mulling a registry for Muslims. You’re O.K. with a racist in the White House?

Voter: Give me a break. You media guys always roll out the race card, but we’re fed up with political correctness. I don’t agree with everything Trump says, but at least he isn’t pussyfooting around. He’ll make America strong again. As for his wilder statements, take them with a grain of salt. He probably doesn’t believe them himself, but he’ll use them to negotiate. His history is as a deal maker, not an ideologue.

Me: But Trump is already damaging America’s reputation worldwide bycommenting sympathetically about Putin and the Chinese massacre of protesters from the Tiananmen democracy movement. More than 580,000 Britons have signed a petition to ban him from British shores. And Larry Summers warns that just the prospect of a protectionist demagogue as president could tip the United States into recession or trigger an international financial crisis.

Voter: Take a deep breath. I don’t care whether foreigners like us, as long as they fear us.

Me: And you don’t have a problem with a candidate who demeans women as sexual playthings, who critiques women based more on busts than brains (in his words: “A person who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10”), who insults or leers at half the population?

Voter: In the past, Trump was an entertainment personality, so he said outrageous things. From now on, he’ll be more presidential and more moderate, reaching out to Democrats — which he can do better than Cruz or Rubio, because he’s not so conservative. And for all your naysaying, he’ll be elected president, and he’ll show that all your anxieties are as imaginary as I am. Get used to the phrase: President Trump.

Nick, give up the “imaginary friend” stuff.  MoDo’s better at it than you.  Now we get to Ms. Collins:

What do you think we should call Donald Trump?

Now stop that. This is a serious question. It came up on Super Tuesday night, when Chris Christie introduced the triumphant candidate in Florida.

“Since June 16, when Mr. Trump declared his candidacy, he has shown himself to be tough and strong and bold,” the phantom governor of New Jersey began. Remember when Christie was supposed to be tough and strong and bold? Now he’s just Donald Trump’s sidekick — his Robin, or maybe more appropriately, his Chewbacca.

Trump and his helper made their Super Tuesday appearance at Mar-a-Lago, his gold-plated Florida club where the chandeliers are as high as an elephant’s eye and the membership fee is $100,000. Recently, Trump said it represents his championship of equality.

Seriously. When Trump was asked about the Ku Klux Klan controversy on “Good Morning America,” he once again “disavowed” the former K.K.K. leader David Duke, and then added: “There’s nobody that’s done so much for equality as I have. You take a look at Palm Beach, Fla. I built the Mar-a-Lago Club totally open to everybody.”

On Super Tuesday night in the ballroom of equality, Christie stood behind Trump appearing totally miserable. As a number of commentators noted, he looked like a person who had just been informed that his family was being held hostage and would be released only if he kept quiet and stared straight ahead.

Most of us can live with the possibility that he has not found happiness in his new role as Donald Trump’s most prominent supporter. Instead, let’s consider the fact that in his introduction, Christie called the candidate “Mr. Trump.” To which Trump responded, “Chris, thank you very much.” Then he congratulated “Ted” for winning Texas and looked forward to taking on “Hillary.”

Why is Donald Trump always “Mister”? True, since he has absolutely no record of public service, he lacks a title like Senator or Governor. But this goes way back — on his reality show, all the would-be apprentices, including the celebrity ones, called the host “Mr. Trump,” even when he wasn’t in the room. “It’s this underlying power,” an ex-contestant explained to Cosmopolitan.

Just remember that this will be an administration where all millionaires, whatever race, creed or color, will be given equal opportunity. As long as they don’t call him Donald.

Is there anybody who can beat him? The only candidate who seemed discouraged by Super Tuesday was Ben Carson, although so far he’s only announced he will not be in Thursday’s debate. We will certainly miss him complaining that nobody ever asks him a question. And his answers! At about the same time Carson made his semi-news, a website posted a video in which he avers: “We have a process, an electoral process. That is a process that I am in the process of following, and will continue to follow.”

There’s still Ted Cruz, who won Texas, where he lives, plus Oklahoma and Alaska. Three states that are really, really into oil. If there’s a derrick on the horizon, Cruz can’t lose.

And Marco Rubio won the Minnesota caucus. His first state! “We are so excited about what lies ahead for our campaign,” the junior senator from Florida said. He’d better be, since once this is over Rubio won’t even have a job. He’s vacating his Senate seat, which he never seemed to sit in all that much anyway. His other family income is mainly from people who’ve believed he had a presidential future worth investing in.

The last time he was in terrible financial trouble, Rubio solved the problem by writing a memoir, “An American Son,” for which he got $800,000. I am wondering what the bidding will be for “An American Also-Ran,” the inspiring story of the man who won the Minnesota caucus.

If we lost Marco Rubio, I’d really miss his fund-raising emails. Late on Super Tuesday, I got one asking for a donation on the basis of his spectacular performance.

“Friend” (Marco always calls me Friend) “In the days leading up to tonight, a lot of the media had written us off. … I’m happy to be an underdog. We’re a country of underdogs. I come from a community of underdogs, too, as I said in Miami tonight. I’ve been an underdog in the past — and once again, we’re going to be an underdog campaign that WINS.”

Wow, a lot of underdogs. A little bit later I got a letter from the campaign, just checking to make sure I got Marco’s note. “There’s no doubt he feels like an underdog now, but it’s important to recognize what he accomplished last night, and one sign he’ll win this thing: He picked up a whole bunch of delegates from all across the country.”

Well, at least they didn’t call him “Mister Rubio.”

Wee Marco looks like he belongs in short pants.



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