Friday, February 3, 2017

The Candyman

I find Donald Trump to be quite likable. There’s a pleasant cadence in his voice that’s reassuring, unlike Hillary Clinton’s shrill harping. And while I agree with almost everything Bernie Sanders has said, the way he says things irks me. “Do you want to know what I think of that?” Sanders will reply to any question. “Let me tell you what I think about that.” Just spit it out, Bernie. That’s what Donald would do. Donald is a master of brevity and succinctness. He speaks in sound bites, not drawn out exposition like Barack Obama. And Donald doesn’t use any of those big words like the political analysts do. Donald speaks to me like a comforting friend using words like “great” and “terrific”. His speeches are always written in an easy-to-understand fifth-grade vocabulary. He doesn’t explain foreign policy in terms of bilateralism or trilateralism; instead, he tells Mexico if it doesn’t clean up its act then he’ll go in after “the bad hombres.”

When Donald Trump says something on TV, I find myself agreeing with what this likable man is saying. Somehow the way he phrases things just makes it seem like common sense. But then I turn off the TV and examine what he’s actually done. Things that sounded good and made so much sense are suddenly troubling. A change that causes mortgage interest to go up; torturing people; starting trade wars; threatening real wars; cozying up with our enemies like Russia while offending our allies like Australia, Canada, and Europe; saying we should pull out of NATO and the UN; walking away from a treaty that will give a huge economic advantage to China while hurting the E.U. and America; approving pipeline projects that will add only 36 permanent jobs but forever damage America’s natural resources; appointing ill-qualified individuals to cabinet positions; naming an anti-Semitic white supremacist as his top advisor; attacking American intelligence agencies and removing their permanent representation at the National Security Council; dismantling healthcare for millions of Americans; firing long-time career State Department employees; placing a gag order on federal government officials; promising to spend $14 billion to build an ineffective wall to keep out Mexicans when that money could be spent on infrastructure to repair roads and bridges throughout the country; and engaging in a systematic attempt to delegitimize the news media.

But then I’m distracted by the charming gaffes. You know the type: President Gerald Ford constantly bumping his head or stumbling; President George W. Bush’s malapropisms; and now President Donald Trump’s gaffes, like banning immigrants on Holocaust Remembrance Day; not mentioning Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day; and citing Frederick Douglass in remarks on Black History Month in a way that made it obvious he didn’t know who Douglass was or that he had died more than a century ago. And then there’s Donald’s ego. Some say it crosses the line into megalomania. I won’t comment on that, but I will note that one of his first official acts was to declare his inauguration day to be a "National Day of Patriotic Devotion."

Yet I still like Donald Trump. When I hear him, I feel like a 10-year-old boy being called to by a much older man in a white van offering me candy. Somewhere deep inside me I know I shouldn’t listen, but I like candy and he seems so nice. My friends say I should give him a chance and go along for the ride. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

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