Point of View Columns

Trump – The Eternal Minor League Player

As the avalanche of indictments, resignations and revelations threaten to wash away the Trump presidency like a bug on a windshield in a car wash; it is becoming clear to the entire world that Donald Trump was never ready for prime time. As long as he could live in the minor league universe of pretense, lies, fraud and more pretenses, he could escape the kind of scrutiny that he now encounters. If he were anyone else, he would be the subject of pity. But not this time. And it is time for The Donald to find out what it means to move from the minor leagues to the major leagues.

A bit of history – until 2009, most Americans had only known Donald Trump, if they knew him at all, as the raucous host of the “Celebrity Apprentice” reality show. Because he lived in the media capital of the world, Trump garnered more attention than most mid-level legacy real estate developers and failed hotel casino owners might have received. And so Trump always received points for self-promotion if not for stunning insight or superior intelligence.

And so, whether as an indifferent college student at Fordham University and then at the University of Pennsylvania, or as a headline chasing New York City businessman who employed questionable practices, he could hide in the herd of men and women who hustle and outrageously self promote that make up a significant part of the population of New York City. But not satisfied with being the impresario of the Miss Universe contest (a bit of business that seemed tailor-made for a self-proclaimed misogynist and groper) and not being satisfied with a stint as a torch and pitchfork leader of a would-be lynch mob that would have, if given the chance, wrongfully executed the innocent Central Park Five, Trump decided that he actually had something to offer to the American people aside from his “You’re Fired” tagline.

He began by being the self-proclaimed leader of the proto-racist “birther” movement, claiming that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, not the United States. His fruitless efforts to delegitimize the first black President of the United States obviously made Trump feel that he could be president. The fact that President Obama absolutely barbequed him over the birther issue at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner was almost certainly a motivating factor for America’s Supreme Megalomaniac.

Running a haphazard, seat of the pants campaign with, it appears, the assistance of the Russian government, Donald Trump became president. And that is when reality started to enter his fantasy world. Indeed, Trump is reminiscent of one of those cartoon characters who runs off a cliff and keeps on running and running…..until he looks down.

And now Trump finds himself and his enablers and minions the subject of multiple Congressional and criminal investigations. He is finding out that it is one thing to set up a bogus college (see “Trump University”), or a bogus foundation (see “Trump Foundation”) or failed hotels and casinos. The lesson that he is learning the hard way is that money laundering, collusion with the Russians and playing fast and loose with federal campaign laws as President of the United States can end up with him wearing a federally issued orange jumpsuit that will quite poetically almost match his hair.

If Trump had just stayed in his lane as an ignorant, blowhard huckster, he probably would have escaped any significant law enforcement scrutiny. His desire to move from the minor leagues to the big leagues clearly has consequences that never occurred to him. And now he is learning that lesson the hard way.

It is said that pride goes before the fall. And in the case of Donald J. Trump, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

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Point of View Columns

Trump and Black People. It was Just a Matter of Time.

Since he announced his candidacy for president, Donald J. Trump has serially assaulted the sensibilities of…..well, just about everybody. Everyone remembers his inaugural smear of Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers. His appearance before a group of Jewish leaders and praising them for “making good deals” was a Trump classic. In a bizarre cross-cultural slur, Trump has made Muslims his personal piñata. And all along black Americans knew, just knew, that it was a just a matter of time.

Donald Trump managed to insult every woman who does not aspire to look like a runway model when he went after Carly Fiorina. He bashed differently able citizens of this planet when he mocked a New York Times reporter with physical challenges. And all along black Americans knew, just knew, that it was just a matter of time.

And true to form Donald Trump added a race-baiting grenade to his arsenal. When asked whether he disavowed the tacit endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke he tiptoed, spun and moonwalked all over the place before finally “disavowing” Duke. Of course he “disavowed” with a dog whistle, a Trumpian wink and an elbow nudge to all those who think that David Duke isn’t such a bad guy and that the Ku Klux Klan is no worse than Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

The reason why black Americans have been so prescient is not due to some shared race memory. It has been one of the sad themes of American racial history that when hatemongering begins in this country, black Americans will not fare well. And when it comes to Donald Trump his record regarding racial issues goes back a lot further than his recent Texas Two Step with the David Duke question.

Over twenty years ago, during the furor surrounding the Central Park Five, it was Donald Trump who called the black and brown defendants “animals” and stoked the flames that in earlier times would have resulted in a lynching. And even when the five (now not so young) men were fully exonerated and received some compensation for their suffering, it was Republican Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump who said they should not receive a penny.

And it was only six years ago that Donald Trump assumed the mantle of leader of the “birther” movement, seeking to delegitimize the Obama presidency by casting doubts on his citizenship. It is important to remember that there was never any question or doubt that Barack Obama’s mother was a white American woman from Kansas and (according to the supporters of the Canadian-born Ted Cruz) that should have ended any questions regarding the citizenship of Barack Obama.

But Donald Trump persisted with a passion that bordered on obsession, demanding to see the Obama birth certificate. And when that Hawaiian document was presented Trump went on to seek Obama transcripts from Columbia and Harvard. This bizarre and possessed questioning of the qualifications of Barack Obama is all too familiar to any black American with any aspirations and any experience on Planet America. And black Americans know that this questioning is undoubtedly race-based.

But Trump’s shadowboxing with the Klan question is particularly troubling because it would be easy enough for him to channel his inner hypocrite and denounce an original domestic terrorist organization. His failure to do so raises the same concerns that we should have if he failed to clearly denounce Nazis or Isis.

Of course, Donald Trump is not really interested in the black vote or what black people think. He is outreach to the black community is limited to a neo-minstrelsy opening act of the “Diamond and Silk” black sister act and the few black apologists who do not know of the tragic intersection of black heritage and the Klan, or just don’t care as long as Trump is signing the checks and those checks don’t bounce (with Trump one never knows, do one?).

Again, Donald J. Trump is not really interested in the black vote. But he is very interested in those disaffected, angry white voters who hear his racist dog whistle loud and clear.

Who let the dogs out? Donald J. Trump, that’s who.

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