Thanks For Sharing Donald

The purpose of presidential debates is to provide the voter with an opportunity to really get to know the candidates.  Up to this point the individual campaign organizations work hard to paint the image of the candidate presented to the public.  They control media access, they dictate the schedule, they choose venues, they select audiences, they write speeches, they choose clothes and lighting, they put out press releases and position papers, they run radio and TV ads and they seek to control the narrative.  But when the candidate steps onto the debate stage he or she is on their own.  The glare of the lights and the eye of the TV camera exposes the candidate without mercy and creates an indelible image.  In a presidential debate words uttered become part of history.  Being aware of this and being schooled in the impact of past debates, most candidates prepare with seriousness and intensity for their time before the debate cameras. It became clear during Donald Trump’s debate performance that he doesn’t subscribe to the lessons of debates past.

As the debate began with the candidates walking onto the stage there was great anticipation.  There had been endless speculation by pundits and strategic leaks from the  campaign organizations  regarding individual candidate preparation and strategy.  The moderator, Lester Holt, under those same lights and cameras, prepared with the same intensity as a candidate to insure a fair and unbiased debate.  He was well aware of the challenges presented by Donald Trump’s style. The fact that the audience size was predicted to be about 100 million from around the world placed this debate in the realm of the Super Bowl.  As the lights came up and the audience settled down there was no doubt that this was a very high stakes gamble for both candidates.  The outcome could shift the direction of the campaign and the ultimate outcome of the election.  With this much at stake how is it possible that Trump tanked so badly under the weight of his own arrogance and ego?

During the preceding weeks we all heard about the seriousness and discipline of Clinton’s debate preparation.  We were also informed about the casualness of Trump’s debate preparation.  Hillary took full advantage of her advisors and listened to their advice and criticism. Donald occasionally humored his advisors and practiced some Q & A over lunch, but most often kept his own counsel. He told the press that he was a very successful debater, after all he beat 16 opponents during the primaries.  He, unsurprisingly, didn’t grasp the differences between the two kinds of debates.  He didn’t understand that this wasn’t a Republican Party event with a friendly crowd and a format that required much less of him.  It is therefore not shocking that Donald, as he had no doubt done many times throughout his life, refused to do his homework and planned to wing it. After all, the smartest guy in the room could surely beat this “girl”. This space doesn’t allow me to discuss the many psychological issues that Donald’s behavior and personality present.  Suffice it to say that this is not an emotionally healthy man.  All of this aside, what does it say to the American voter, and for that matter the world, that a candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America was not willing to do his homework for his most important job interview?  Will he take this cavalier attitude with him to the White House as he deals with issues of war and peace that touch the lives of billions of people around the world?

Donald Trump shared a part of himself that we have seen many times before.  He was arrogant, misinformed, boorish, misogynistic and rude.  We all mistakenly believed that he would come to this game with a different self.  But the fact is, there is no different self.  What you see is what you get.  Thanks for sharing Donald.


America, Who Are We?

Who are you?  This is perhaps one of the most difficult and complex questions we are confronted with throughout our lives.  Certainly there are superficial responses that we are most likely to give as children.  We provide our name and maybe our gender.  However, as we grow older and more mature we realize that there can be additional components to our self-description.  We might add our current school grade or a position on a particular sports team or who our parents or siblings are.  However, as we mature into adulthood we become aware that this question requires a level of response that forces us to delve into depths we rarely visit.  We need to take an honest look at our station in life, our values, our dreams, our relationships as well as our strengths and weaknesses.  While we  seldom feel compelled to dig to our depths for the answer to this question, it is one that challenges us in a variety of ways throughout our lives.  It is the very same question that our nation, America, must face at this critical moment in our history.

While it may sound hyperbolic to state that we, as a nation, are facing an historic decision as we go to the polls on November 8th, this time hyperbole is appropriate.  There is no doubt that this election cycle has been filled with drama, surprises, and yes,  hyperbole.  However, there has rarely been a greater contrast between the two contesting candidates in a presidential election. Certainly, in the past there have been policy differences and contrasting views of the world, but in this election we are seeing fundamentally different perception of who we are as a nation.  Are we a member of the community of nations or are we a nation driven purely by self-interest?  Are we a nation that seeks justice and peace for people throughout the world, or are we concerned only with our internal peace and justice?  Does our economy seek to consider economic equality throughout the world, or does it concern itself only with our national wealth?  Does our legal system seek to provide a universal model for individual dignity and the rule of law, or are we concerned only about those who hold American citizenship?  Do we as a nation truly believe that all men (and women)  are created equal or do we believe that some are more equal than others?  Do we dream of a world of peace, abundant resources and serenity or do we seek a world in which power justifies taking more than a fair share of the good that life has to offer?  Do we believe that right makes might or that might makes right? In other words, are we a nation committed to building a world of peace, health, wealth and equality or do we promote a world of “the survival of the fittest”?  Never in recent years has the American people been asked to answer such questions as we head to the voting booth.

We have been told to believe that a willingness to seek peaceful solutions to complex and dangerous international threats is a sign of weakness.  That kind of simplistic thinking creates a world based on the children’s game, King of the Mountain.  It is a world in which the means are said to justify the ends.  We are asked to accept a world in which diplomacy is a choice of last resort and raw power will determine and sustain our international relationships.  That dictate leads to many thousands of dead children.  We are asked to be afraid first and trust later. That is what we tell children about how to deal with strangers. In Trump’s divisive world we will all become strangers and live in fear of one another.    Donald Trump is free to live his life in fear, but is that what we want for America?

What are our national values?  Who are we?  It is time to reach into the depths of our national self and find the answer. Never has it been more important for America to decisively  answer that question at the polls.

Transparently Misogynistic

I can’t help but note that Trump was suddenly very concerned about the African American victim of the police shooting in Tulsa.  He has never before shown concern for the victim and has in fact always supported the police.  What then is different about this shooting?  Only one thing is different. The shooting cop was a woman.  His criticism is filled with questions that he has never raised about a male cop.  He is pathetically transparent.

And Trump The Sovereign Called And They Rallied

And so it was on that 16th day in June in the year 2015 that the Sovereign Trump came down from his tower, his lady Melania at his side, and began to speak with great passion of his desire to expand his sovereignty beyond the borders of the Trump Organization to include all of America.  

It became clear on that day, as he stood before the cameras, that this candidate would be like none the nation had experienced in the past.  It was not only that he lacked both the knowledge and experience that would ordinarily prepare an individual to seek this hallowed position, but the devisive nature of the words he chose to announce his availability.  They were not words that conveyed hope and security but rather hate and fear.  His words did not seek to unify the people but rather divide them.  

And it was on that day in June in the year 2015 that these words were received with joy and vigor by those segments in American society that viewed the world through the same warped lens as that used by the Sovereign Trump.  They heard his call and rallied in cities across America.  There was great rejoicing in the land of hate for a leader had come forth to lead the country and fulfill their vision.  He would make America pure again and rid it of all who didn’t support their sacred values.  

And so it was on the 19th day of July in the year 2016 that their greatest dream came true.  A leader in whom they could believe became the nominee for President of the Republican Party, one of the two major American political parties.

Not only is the  basket that Hillary Clinton spoke of filled with the most deplorable segments of American society, but they are powered by and empower the Trump campaign.   He is not only holding the handle, but he is nourishing it with fertilizer and water regularly.  This basket didn’t fill by chance.   Trump rallied them with his words and welcomed them with his bluster.  He has given voice to the most radical and dangerous in America.  He has legitimized their cause and empowered them.  He has corrupted the Republican Party and molded it into an instrument of bigotry encased in isolationism, bluster and self-interest, all protected in a lining of narcissism and duplicity.

He has cleverly deflected his potential vulnerabilities by projecting them onto his opposing candidate.  While he dishonestly accuses Hillary of not sharing financial and health information, he has refused to make any such information available. While he continues to question her physical and mental strength, he does no more or less on the campaign trail than she.  While he accuses Hillary of dishonesty in “pay for play” gimmicks, he refuses to acknowledge that is precisely what he did with the Florida Attorney General.  While he makes accusations about the Clinton Foundation, he refuses to acknowledge the non-charitable nature of his own foundation.  His bluster about the way in which he would handle America’s affairs around the world are a direct response to the reality that Hillary served with grace, dignity and effectiveness as our Secretary of State.  National security experts from both parties have voiced great concern about a potential Trump presidency.  Perhaps, however, he has played this card to its limit.  It appears that there are some significant investigations that are underway regarding his business practices, Trump University and the Trump Foundation.  It is high time this duplicitous opportunist is publicly investigated and that his lack ethics and basic honesty  be exposed for all to see.  Those who continue to hail him as their leader are merely reflecting his lack of character.

On November 8th we all need to insure that the likes of Donald Trump and his band of misfits are sent into electoral disgrace and oblivion. The results of this election must be a statement to the world that the character and values of the America they have come to know throughout our history are strong and incorruptible.

The Press Has Been Doing Us A Disservice

When I was a kid I remember sitting down for the nightly network 15 minute news program.  Aside from a nightly local newscast, that was all the news that TV had to offer.  Most people depended on the local newspaper to provide depth and opinion.  It was the opinion section that provided the newspaper’s political point of view and shaded news selection and placement.  It was well-known that The New York Times leaned Democratic and The Wall Street Journal leaned Republican.  These  papers didn’t apologize for their positions nor did they make any attempt at even handedness. You knew what you were getting when you opened its pages and it was up  to the individual to provide his own context and perspective.  The changes that have occurred in the news and journalism business over the last half century have been breathtaking.  Today the cable news networks have replaced the newspaper as the purveyors of opinion.   In fact, it is near on to impossible to find a cable news program that isn’t dictated by a particular point of view.  Just as the newspapers of yesterday didn’t apologize for their positions or attempt to be even-handed,  the cable news networks don’t either.  That is until the current presidential election cycle.  During the past 12 months they have lost their way and while Fox News continues to be strikingly unapologetic for its slant on the candidates, CNN and MSNBC appear to be cowering under some unseen pressure to be “Fear and Balanced”.

Perhaps it is the fear of being accused of being unbalanced and unfair.  Whatever it is, both MSNBC and CNN and some of our major newspapers are doing a disservice to their viewers and readers.  Any objective observer would have to agree that over the past 12 months all candidates that weren’t named Trump got the short end of the stick.  Trump has received billions of dollars of free advertising as we were forced into viewing his rallies when ordinary programming was cast aside.  Newspapers showcased him day after day.  This happened on a regular basis and did great damage to all other candidates who had to actually pay for exposure.  What was particularly troubling was that the assertions made by Trump at these rallies were accepted as fact without question.  Rather than challenge the misstatements of fact, the anchors, when they did finally come back on camera, would discuss the crowd or Trump’s affect rather than his words. It was as if the press was enamored by this showman and unable to get past his showmanship.

We have seen this continue through the general election campaign.  The loser this time is Hillary Clinton.  The press has showcased her e-mail issues as well as any factually flawed assertions by Trump, while barely paying any attention to Trump’s many questionable business practices or outlandish pronouncements.  I needn’t enumerate them if you are reading this blog post because you already know them.  What is clear is the fact that Trump’s business ethics and narcissistic personality are both significant liabilities that have barely been explored or exposed by the press.  They seems to be bending over backwards to appear impartial.  But by so doing they are showcasing every unsupported  or eronious charge against Clinton. Time after time I have seen anchors allow untrue assertions or explanations go unchallenged.  This does a disservice to the viewers and most importantly to Hillary Clinton.

Additionally, Trump has used a tactic taken by many who had much to hide.  He continues  to cast aspersions on the press.  He calls them evil and dishonest and keeps them in a pen in the back of the room.  Not only has the press tried so hard to be fair to him that they have been unfair to Hillary, they have shown themselves to be gutless.  Why are they still attending his rallies and reporting on them?  Why don’t they demand respect from this bully?  They should announce a boycott and stop reporting on him until he treats them with dignity. Believe me, this is a man who thrives on the spotlight.  He would work to be back in their good graces in no time flat.

The press serves a vital function.  We are so fortunate to have a free press protected by our Constitution. However, to fulfill their obligation they  must report honestly and demand respect or they will be subverting the very Constitution that protects them.  It is our free press that separates us from much of the world.  It is an important part of what makes our country great.

Trump: Shallow, Arrogant and dangerous

When we were children we played games like King of the Mountain to prove our dominance and we arm wrestled to prove our strength.  It was also fun to take a stick and stir up a puddle and see what came up from the bottom.  As we got a little older the sarcastic “put down” enabled us to show off our adolescent intellect.  It was also fun to do the unexpected and say things just for shock value.  Then most of us grew up.  We worked hard and learned the skills that would move us ahead in life.  We came to appreciate knowledge and enjoyed learning about the world around us.  We acknowledged both our strengths  and our shortcomings. We came to respect others for who they were, not what they were. We learned to enjoy the challenge of learning what lay below the surface of an issue or a person.  Yet we know that there were some who remained shallow, arrogant and intellectually lazy.  One of those whose intellectual and emotional growth was stinted is named Donald J. Trump.

Trump viewed the primary debates as a TV version of King of the Mountain.  It provided him an opportunity to show off his intellect by using sharp-tongued “put downs” and he even found an opportunity to metaphorically show off his masculine prowess.  Trump also has shown himself adept at stirring the puddle and bringing to the surface the sludge that inhabit the bottom.  At his rallies Trump is expected to do and say the unexpected while he assiduously avoids providing more than a superficial platitude-filled treatment of any issue.  We have been told that “he isn’t a politician” in an effort to explain his non-tradiitional approach to his bid for the presidency.  When that explanation is challenged we are told that we are forgetting that this approach effectively defeated 16 opponents in the primaries and that he received more votes during that period than any candidate in Republican primary history.  Finally we have been told on two occasions that his campaign is restructuring and revamping for the general election campaign ahead.  He has fired two campaign managers and is now on his third plus an additional person with the unusual title of CEO.  His campaign structure seems to be a hybrid of a traditional campaign and a corporation.  However, regardless of the efforts to somehow reign in this 70-year-old adolescent, he is still undisciplined and unpredictable.

What is particularly disturbing about Trump and his approach to this campaign is its superficiality.  His crass and intellectually shallow statements are so transparent as to be almost comical.  His recent approach to the black and latino communities by way of married suburban women lacked subtlety and factual honesty.  It’s as if he believes that if he suddenly says something contrary to the racist and bigoted approach he has followed throughout his campaign people will just change their minds and say to themselves “well maybe he isn’t a racist after all”.  His sudden surprise trip to Mexico, designed to make him appear “presidential”, is another play at trying to change minds.  But does he really expect that after 14 months of behaving with a total lack of maturity, appearing more like a teenager struggling to be noticed than a president, that this trip is going to change any minds?   But this emotionlally immature adolesent-like candidate changed his mood again for tonight’s immigration speech.  He reverted back to his arrogant, macho, king of the mountain self.  In so doing he showed himslef to be a true demegogue and extremely dangerous.

Dozens of Republicans and Democrats alike have stated that Donald J. Trump is neither temperamentally or intellectually fit to be our president.  They voice real concern regarding our national security and our continued leadership among the community of nations.  Their fear is real and informed.  Trump is shallow, arrogant and intellectually lazy.  He is a danger to both our country and the world.

Mr. Trump, We’ve Seen The bombast, Now Where’s The Meat?

As children we learn early to distinguish between fabrication and truth. Children have a unique ability to tell the difference between pretense and honesty.  As we get older we learn to distinguish between a slick used car salesman and someone who is honest and sincere.  We are told by those who are older and more experienced that these are important lessons to learn because there are all too many people out there who would like to take advantage of our trusting nature.  Yet it seems that when it comes to politics there are many of us who quickly forget those early childhood lessons and willfully allow ourselves to be swayed by the flimsiest and most baseless rhetoric.  Thirteen million Republican primary voters allowed it to happen to them and now we have Trump to thank them for.

The campaign Donald Trump ran during the primary season was filled with baseless personal attacks, half-truths and not so subtle inferences.  It was heavy on bombast and light on substance.  When challenged to explain how he would achieve the many goals he stated he just said believe me, it will be the best ever. When challenged to explain how he would reach these superlative goals he explained that he couldn’t give that information away but believe him, it will be great, the greatest.  The fact is that thirteen million Republican primary voters did believe him.  But primary season is over. Trump won the top position in the big leagues-he’s now the party nominee.  At this level the performance expectations are higher and more sophisticated.  The audience is broader and, in many cases more knowledgable and aware.  Additionally, being placed at the top of the ticket creates additional expectations and responsibilities that didn’t exist darting the primary season.  The future hopes and dreams of the entire Republican party are dependent on Trumps ability to succeed.  The big question is how this opportunistic narcissist will react to the new world that currently confronts him.

Since his less-than stellar convention Trump has favored us with two “very important” policy speeches.  We knew that they were important because they were among the rare occasions in  which he used a teleprompter.  The world awaited with great anticipation the words on the economic  and foreign relations plans for the future that would be spoken by the Republican nominee for President of the United States.  As we watched and listened we heard many platitudes and a great deal of bombast.  However, any professional economist or member of the national security community who listened is still awaiting the substance.  He presented these speeches with great seriousness and a brevity rarely seen in this candidate.  Yet, neither speech contained a realistic and fact-based prescription for an American economy or foreign relations plan for the future. These speeches proved once again that Trump is a “light weight” when it comes to truly understanding the intricate and complex issues confronting our nation and the world.  This is not information that is easily attained through  a life as a businessman. However what is quite clear is that not only doesn’t he know, but it is jarringly evident that he doesn’t have the intellectual curiosity or self-discipline to learn.

The Trump campaign has just gone through another reorganization.  They say that it is an expansion, but we have learned to distinguish the used car salesman from the honest sincere person, so we know it is a reorganization.  But the fact that there is a campaign reorganization isn’t the issue.  Most candidates go through this process during a hard-fought campaign.  What is key here is that the campaign has reorganized to move away from the traditional and has moved again toward a more bombastic and innuendo-based direction.  It has moved away from the “general election pivot” to “letting Trump be Trump”.  It is obvious that there is nothing beyond the bombast.  What we’ve seen is what we’ve got.  There is no meat to fill in the empty plates.  Yet, let’s not forget that thirteen million voters like what they see.  That is perhaps the most frightening fact of all.