That’s Life

Trumpling the First Amendment

Bender COLUMN BOXIt started out as a sideshow starring an orange Oompa Loompa who just didn’t have the time for civility, decorum and decency, branded as political correctness. He turned the process on its head and when Fox News, one of the Dr. Trumpensteins who created this monster, tried to take him down in the first debate, they ended up on the canvas faster than you can say Ronda Rousey.

By the time Fox recovered from the misogynistic attack on their favorite blondling, Trump, having already declared Mexicans rapists and murderers, was off to the (other) races.

There was a brief interruption when El Chapo reportedly offered $100 million for Trump’s scalp. I’m not sure what kind of pelt Trump has on his head, but I’m pretty sure you can get one just like it at Hobby Lobby, or off the dash of a pimped-out ‘68 Impala I saw at a car show one time.

El Chapo, who had tunneled tons of drugs and ultimately, himself, under the border, is the living embodiment of the futility of Trump’s Wall. It’s like putting up a three-strand of barbed wire fence to keep the gophers out. And expecting the gophers to pay for it.

Trump has proclaimed a national database for Muslims is in order. Tattoo shops would be busy as the numbers are etched on the wrists of millions of Muslims, like the good old days in Germany when the Jews were “the problem.” A lot of non-Muslims thought it was great, until Trump went after Seventh-Day Adventists and the Pope himself. Methodists are hunkering down. Lutherans are nervous.

Trump made so many dog-whistle statements denigrating African-Americans, former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke excitedly leapt from the shadows, like a ghost on a pogo stick, to endorse him. In one exit poll of Trump voters, 20 percent agreed Lincoln should never have freed the slaves. Another 35 percent were against soap.

One of the biggest whipping boys has been the press. Trump cruelly mocked a disabled New York Times reporter and ratcheted up hatred of the media, who occasionally tell uncomfortable truths spoiled rich boys aren’t used to hearing. But overall, Trump’s had it easy.

Along the way, an occasional populist truth has wandered out of Trump’s mouth, like a breadcrumb of hope for those who realize this narcissist might actually become president. He gleefully exposed the incestuous relationship between corporations and campaigns.

Hillary Clinton is still trying to explain why Wall Street paid her millions for speeches. No need for transcripts, I suspect they went pretty much like this: “I would like to propose a toast to money! And now, goodnight.” That’s the system of legalized bribery we need to change. But we don’t need to burn down the country to do it.

Many derived guilty pleasure watching Trumpublicans bash Fox News, as the network stars took on the disheveled look of a 4-year-old on the end of a leash with a runaway St. Bernard. Meanwhile at MSNBC, the great enablers, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, acted like concubines who give the man a foot massage every night.

Now, the guy who has forcefully removed people from his rallies before they uttered a word of protest, has hypocritically claimed his freedom of speech was being trampled in Chicago, when he had finally baited enough people into putting on a decent protest—a manufactured conflict.

Trump wants free coverage on public airwaves, but he still wants to call it a private event. He took his bows for calling off the rally, which one pundit opined was like an arsonist wanting credit for dialing 9-1-1.

Even the wimpy blowback from the media Trump has received has ruffled his dashboard. He wants tougher libel laws—censorship, really—because he is too thin-skinned to take it. Politicians get very little protection from criticism, for good reason. That’s the line between a dictatorship and a democracy. As imperfect as the press may be, pray you don’t have to find out what it’s like to live without it.

Last Friday, we saw echos of of our political past—dark days. The violence Trump encourages from his bully pulpit could become a wildfire, and that is just what he wants. These are dangerous times for a country that has always managed the peaceful transfer of power. It’s hard to ignore the parallels between Trump and the orchestrated violence that put Hitler in power. Suddenly, Ted Cruz looks less punchable.

Trump is the guy Republicans in North Dakota chose as their presidential favorite in a recent straw poll conducted through Kevin Cramer’s campaign website.

Meanwhile, a growing number of alarmed Republicans nationwide are standing up against Trump—Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell, Norm Coleman, Christie Todd Whitman and Lindsay Graham among them. Better to lose an election than the GOP—or the country itself.

Republicans in North Dakota need to do the right thing, too. I suspect most won’t, because they are afraid of the power they might lose if Trump wins.

And if Trump does win, well, at least the oil trains will explode on time.

© Tony Bender, 2016