In “Trump Reflects White Male Fragility” Mr. Blow says that if you support Trump, you support his bigotry and racism. Just like all but a handful of Republicans… In “Donald Trump and a C.I.A. Officer Walk Into a Room” Mr. Kristof asks us to imagine being a fly on the wall at his first intelligence briefing. In “Intervening Donald” Ms. Collins says Trump has had plenty to say while Republicans try to get him to stick to a message that could get him elected. Here’s Mr. Blow:
Reports of Donald Trump’s demise are an exaggeration, to paraphrase and repurpose Mark Twain.
Yes, he can’t stop shooting off his mouth and shooting himself in the foot, and there are reports that his messy campaign is nearing the point of mutiny.
Yes, he knows nearly nothing about world affairs and that becomes ever more apparent every time he stumbles through an interview. Sir, Putin invaded Ukraine in 2014, the same year you filmed your last installment of your reality game show “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
Yes, his continued feud with the family of a fallen Muslim soldier may be the most ill advised and foolhardy folly in recent political memory (Trump keeps racking these up.) This is the same man who received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War, one for “bone spurs in his heels” according to The New York Times. While throngs of his contemporaries were fighting — and dying – in battle, Trump was being featured on the front page of The Times after he and his father were sued by the Department of Justice for anti-black bias in their rental properties.
Three years later, The Times profiled him with a backhanded compliment of the nouveau riche: “He rides around town in a chauffeured silver Cadillac with his initials, DJT, on the plates. He dates slinky fashion models, belongs to the most elegant clubs and, at only 30 years of age, estimates that he is worth ‘more than $200 million.’”
Yes, he doesn’t seem to know the difference between Tim Kaine, the Democratic Virginia senator whom Hillary Clinton tapped as her running mate, and Tom Kean, the Republican former governor of New Jersey who last held that office 26 years ago, the same year Trump boasted in his book “Surviving at the Top,” “I’ve never had any trouble in bed,” and counseled in Vanity Fair, “When a man leaves a woman, especially when it was perceived that he has left for a piece of ass — a good one! — there are 50 percent of the population who will love the woman who was left.”
Yes, yes, yes.
But Donald Trump is bigger than all of this, or shall I say, smaller.
He appeals to something deeper, something baser: Fear. His whole campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is in fact an inverted admission of loss — lost primacy, lost privilege, lost prestige.
And who feels that they have lost the most? White men.
As the New York Times’ Upshot pointed out in July, “According to our estimates, Mrs. Clinton is doing better among basically every group of voters except for white men without a degree.” Put another way: “Hillary Clinton is largely performing as well or better than Barack Obama did in 2012, except among white men without a degree.”
Indeed, a Monday report in The Times put it this way: “A New York Times/CBS News poll two weeks ago found that white men preferred her Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, to Mrs. Clinton almost two to one, 55 percent to 29 percent.”
These are the voters keeping Trump’s candidacy alive.
He appeals to a regressive, patriarchal American whiteness in which white men prospered, in part because racial and ethnic minorities, to say nothing of women as a whole, were undervalued and underpaid, if not excluded altogether.
White men reigned supreme in the idealized history, and all was good with the world. (It is curious that Trump never specifies a period when America was great in his view. Did it overlap with the women’s rights, civil rights or gay rights movements? For whom was it great?)
Trump’s wall is not practical, but it is metaphor. Trump’s Muslim ban is not feasible, but it is metaphor. Trump’s huge deportation plan isn’t workable, but it is metaphor.
There is a portion of the population that feels threatened by unrelenting change — immigration, globalization, terrorism, multiculturalism — and those people want someone to, metaphorically at least, build a wall around their cultural heritage, which they conflate in equal measure with American heritage.
In their minds, whether explicitly or implicitly, America is white, Christian, straight and male-dominated. If you support Trump, you are on some level supporting his bigotry and racism. You don’t get to have a puppy and not pick up the poop.
And acceptance of racism is an act of racism. You are convicted by your complicity.
I am not accustomed to dancing around an issue; I prefer to call it what it is. I prefer to shine a bright light on it until it withers. Supporting Trump is indefensible and it makes you as much of a pariah as he is.
“Don’t you understand that the people who do this thing, who practice racism, are bereft? There is something distorted about the psyche. It’s a huge waste, and it’s a corruption, and a distortion. Its like it’s a profound neurosis that nobody examines for what it is.”
That stops here, today. For as long as racism and tribalism and xenophobia exist in this country, Trump’s foibles will not signal his ultimate failure. But let’s not let off the people who prop him up, claiming that they’re simply being party loyalists, or Hillary haters or having Supreme Court concerns.
Trump is a mirror. He is a reflection of — indeed a revealing of — the ugliness that you harbor, only it is possible that you may have gone your life expressing it in ways that were more coded and politic. Trump is an unfiltered primal scream of the fragility and fear consuming white male America.
Next up we have Mr. Kristof:
The government is arranging classified intelligence briefings for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to prepare them for the White House. This longstanding practice of briefing nominees is controversial this year: Senator Harry Reid has urged the C.I.A. to give Trump a “fake” briefing, while House Speaker Paul Ryan has said Clinton can’t handle classified material. But what would a Trump briefing look like, anyway?
“Mr. Trump, I’m Gene Smith from the C.I.A.”
“Smith, huh? Is that your code name? You know, I know a huge amount about the C.I.A., more than most C.I.A. directors. A terrific, beautiful, very good organization.”
“Actually, Smith is my real name. Anyway, let’s get started with China and our assessment that Xi is much more aggressive than Hu.”
“She is more aggressive than who?”
“Well, I’d like to meet her. I like aggressive women. She sounds like a 10.”
“I don’t know. That aggressive woman.”
“I’m not sure I understand. Anyway, in China we assess with high confidence that Xi will continue this aggressive nationalistic ——”
“She sounds hot. No, I’m just joking. But, seriously, women love me.”
“Mr. Trump, Xi is a man, president of China.”
“She is a man? China’s president is trans? Boy, they’re more modern than I realized — I mean, I knew that. I know so much about China. You should see me use chopsticks! Did I ever tell you about this hot Chinese girl I once dated? She was so modern, and built like ——”
“Mr. Trump! We expect China will maintain its nationalistic claims in the South China Sea ——”
“Oh, don’t worry. I have lots of Chinese friends. I love Chinese food. Best pad Thai in the world at Trump Tower. So what’s your take, what do the Chinese think of me?”
“We assess with high confidence that the Chinese leadership wants you to win the election.”
“I’m not surprised. There are very, very bad reporters at completely and totally failing newspapers that nobody reads who say I might start a trade war. But China wants me to win the election! Amazing! So why does she want me to win, that transsexual president of theirs?”
“Xi is not trans! Xi would like you to win because alliance management is not your priority, and your presidency could lead to an unprecedented decline in U.S. influence.”
“Unprecedented! Amazing! So the Chinese think that I’d be unprecedented? Who else likes me?”
“Well, North Korea has already officially endorsed you, Mr. Trump. It called you ‘prescient’ and ‘wise.’”
“‘Present and wise!’ They love me! And Russia loves me, too. Putin and I go way back. We’re like this” — Trump knits his fingers together — “and after I’m elected I hope to finally meet him.”
“Yes, we believe that President Putin is backing you.”
“Putin the Pro. Not like Little Ukraine. Sad!”
“Well, Putin believes that NATO might collapse in your presidency and that he would have a freer hand in Ukraine and the Baltics.”
“The Baltics, I know them better than anybody! Melania is from Slovenia. Some people say I leaked those amazing pictures of her to The New York Post. Why would I do that? Did you see them? Here ——”
“Mr. Trump! And you mean the Balkans, even though Slovenia isn’t ——”
“Balkans, Baltics — I don’t get bogged down in details. I’m a strategy guy. Now what about ISIS? I know more about ISIS than the generals do. But I’d like to hear your take. Are they supporters?”
“We assess that they are supporting you in the belief that you help recruitment. Indeed, we fear that they may conduct a terror strike in hopes of helping you get elected.”
“Everybody’s supporting me! What about the Middle East? I’ll probably do a peace deal — I’m a terrific deal maker, you know that? I’ll probably get a Nobel Peace Prize to go with my new Purple Heart.”
“Well, sir, the Middle East is complicated ——”
“Sir, we only offer intel, not policy advice. But ——”
“Shouldn’t we just drop a few nukes on those Kurds?”
“The Kurds? In Syria, they’re our only effective ally.”
“They’re doing bad things. Very bad things. I saw it on a Sunday show.”
“Oh, you mean … the Quds Force?”
“Kurds, Quds, what’s the difference? If I give the order to bomb ’em, you guys can sweat the details. Call Mike Pence.”
“But you’re running to be ——”
“Anyway, tell me about internet security. I’m a little bored. How about we hack into the phone of Miss Sweden and check out her selfies? When I’m elected I’m going to have a whole team on that. …”
What’s the over/under on how long it will take him to tweet something classified? And now we get to Ms. Collins:
Do you think it’s true that the Republicans are trying to get Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich to do an intervention with an out-of-control Donald Trump?
This is the best rumor of the summer, so let’s hope so. If they televised it, no one in the world would be watching the Olympics.
And it does tell you something that Giuliani and Gingrich are supposed to be the voices of moderation and self-control in the campaign. The former mayor who told a press conference that he was going to end his marriage before he told his wife. And the former House speaker who once presided over a government shutdown, which he seemed to attribute to the bad seat he got on Air Force One.
“The campaign is doing really well. It’s never been so well united,” Trump himself fibbed at a rally in Florida on Wednesday.
He was introduced by a retired general who announced that the rally was “an intervention of the people of this country.” This was the same retired general who recently got in trouble for retweeting an anti-Semitic message.
As usual, Trump spent a good chunk of his speech explaining how unjust his critics are. He was outraged, for instance, that he could have been charged with being unsympathetic to people with disabilities when he’s “spent millions of dollars on ramps” for his buildings.
He also took the opportunity of the Florida visit to brag about having been endorsed by “the great Brian France,” the head of Nascar. Who got the top job upon the retirement of the previous C.E.O., who happened to be Brian France’s father.
Wouldn’t you think Trump would be a little bit embarrassed to preen over the backing of another … heir? But he’s never met a sports celebrity he doesn’t like. This was a guy who boasted that he’d been endorsed by Mike Tyson, convicted rapist. Who really, really wanted to put Don King, the boxing promoter, on the convention speakers’ list. It apparently took quite a bit of persuasion to convince the candidate that it was not a good idea to publicize his friendship with a man who was once convicted of manslaughter for stomping someone to death.
You can’t deny that Trump has kept his promise to run a whole new kind of campaign. Just a week into the general election race and he’s already gotten into an ongoing fight with the parents of a slain war hero, arguing that he had “made a lot of sacrifices” himself. Plus refused to endorse the speaker of the House in a meaningless primary. Plus humiliated a woman with a crying baby.
Things are getting exhausting, aren’t they? I’m prepared to take a couple of questions.
During the fight with the parents of the slain war hero, remind me exactly what Trump claimed his sacrifices for the country were?
Oh, you know, building … buildings. And raising massive amounts of money for veterans. Only the first of which is entirely true.
And what about the crying baby?
Yeah, there was a baby crying at one of the rallies. Trump took the trouble to point it out to the hundreds of people in his audience. “Don’t worry about that baby,” he told the mother. “I love babies.” Wouldn’t you presume he was serious? The worst politician in the country would not be sarcastic about a baby. Rudy Giuliani would not be sarcastic about a baby. Bada-bing: “Actually, I was only kidding. You can get the baby out of here.” And then he made fun of the mother for believing him.
Now that he’s been criticized, he’ll probably start pointing out that Mar-a-Lago doesn’t discriminate against pregnant women.
I live in California and all I can think about is this election. But the only voters who count seem to be in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania! How can that be fair?
Look, normally I’d be sympathetic, what with living in New York and all. But we’ve got a presidential nominee here who apparently didn’t know the Russians had invaded Ukraine until George Stephanopoulos broke the news to him on national television. There are problems larger than the value of your itty-bitty ballot.
Trump keeps saying the election is going to be rigged. Do you think he’s looking for an excuse to drop out
No, I’m just worried that he’s preparing his excuse for when he loses. You do not want this to end with Donald Trump telling his supporters — many of whom appear to have a minimum of 20 guns in the basement — that he was robbed. In the Florida speech he did warn the audience to beware of “people voting 10 times.”
O.K., that’s scaring me.
Let’s have some faith in the electorate. I believe most Americans, when given the choice between explaining the outcome with election fraud or “kept making fun of mothers,” will know which way to go.