I originally planned to write a post about Donald Trump called F is for Fatuous, Not Fascist. Then he went farther than even he had gone before with his latest bombast. I still think the Nazi/Hitler analogies are overwrought and inapposite: Hitler was a true believer and Trump makes shit up on the fly. If we must go there, Trump’s latest bit of demagogy is more reminiscent of Mussolini who was an opportunist without a plan. He swung from the pacifist far Left to the warmongering far Right at the drop of a top hat in order to obtain power. Like Trump, Il Duce was once a very popular figure in the US and A. And like Trump, Il Duce was winging it.
Trump’s tendency to spout off and utter unfiltered bullshit is the most alarming thing about his candidacy, not his ideology. The Insult Comedian has no ideology: the only thing he believes in is himself and the roar of the crowd. The last thing a country with the world’s largest military needs is a guy who wings it as the Oval One. Impulse control is a very important quality for any President to have. The Insult Comedian has none, he’s like the kid who eats all his Halloween candy in one sitting and wonders why he’s puking his guts out.
Presidents without impulse control tend to get us into big trouble. The most recent example was W and his Mesopotamian misadventure, but Nixon nearly intervened in the Yom Kippur War whilst in a drunken stupor. Tricky Dick obviously had no impulse control. Then there was the most overrated President in American history: Andrew Jackson. Old Hickory woke up mad and got angrier as the day progressed. Oddly enough, Jack Kennedy had NO impulse control in his private life but was cautious where it mattered.
I must admit to a bit of schadenfreude over the MSM’s hand wringing over Trump’s frontrunner status. They helped to create this monster by giving him such lavish free coverage, and allowing this silly billy to call into their teevee shows willy nilly. It fed his massive ego and made him almost the equal, in terms of coverage, to the sitting President. It’s what Fox had in mind, CNN and the rest just stumbled blindly into the Trumpian trap or is that temptation?
The reason Trump is still riding high is that, like any good demagogue, he’s tapped into the dark underbelly of the American psyche. The Republican base has been primed for this sort of nonsense ever since the Goldwater campaign in 1964. Yes, it’s been that long in coming. It’s why a substantial slice of GOP voters are doing the most outrageous thing imaginable and telling pollsters they support a rich, obnoxious Insult Comedian with no impulse control.
I saw an interesting piece on MSNBC the other night. The reporter was asking Trumpites if they still supported him after the ban Muslims flap. There was much reaffirmation of fealty followed by statements like this, “He speaks his mind. He says what he believes.” Wrong. He says what YOU believe and speaks YOUR mind. He’s a wingnut weathervane.
Despite being a narcissistic windbag who never shuts the fuck up, Trump has an uncanny knack for reading people and telling them what they want to hear. Trump only believes in Trump: he doesn’t give a shit what some redneck in Alabama thinks. He’s a pander bear in true believer drag. It’s like the Kinks song, he gives the people what they want:
I’m not exactly sure how the whole Trump phenomenon will play out. It reminds me of something Robert Kennedy once said about Nixon reflecting “the dark side of the American soul.” The only question is how many people are willing to follow Trump off the cliff and into a general election rout. I still think Trump’s WWF bad guy style approach will blow up in his face sooner rather than later, BUT there is a chance that he will be the Republican nominee if I’m wrong about that. As cynical as I come off, I don’t think there are as many hardcore assholes out there who are willing to turn the nuclear suitcase over to this bozo as some people seem to think. As Trump himself might say: HE’S A LOSER.
Since the Insult Comedian was originally the creation of the tabloids, I’ll give the New York Daily News the last word:
INSTANT UPDATE: While I was working on this piece, Josh Marshall posted Know Your Fascist Dictators comparing Trump to Mussolini. Great minds and all that jazz.