In the heat of the fight

  • By Bob Franken
  • Wednesday, March 16, 2016 9:47am
  • Opinion

His horrified critics may ostracize him for being such a crass act, but many of Donald Trump’s most bizarre pronouncements turn out be true. For example, he was ridiculed for having the chutzpah (look it up, Trump supporters) to insist that he was a “unifier.” That, it turns out, is certainly the case.

You know where I’m going with this. Contempt for Trump is as bipartisan as anything gets these days. Hillary Clinton, or her sound-byte scriptwriters, chastised him for his heated rhetoric as his rallies have turned increasingly violent: “If you play with matches, you’re going to start a fire you can’t control. That’s not leadership. That’s political arson.” Bernie Sanders, who Trump refers to as a “communist” who has sent provocateurs to his raucous events, responds by calling him a “pathological liar.”

His Republican rivals have joined forces with the Hill and the Bern. The Marco told the Associated Press that he’d find it difficult to support a nominee who is “dividing both the party and the country so bitterly.” John Kasich, after protesters shut down Donald Trump’s Chicago rally, blamed that on Trump creating a “toxic environment.” Ted Cruz just calls it “nasty.”

Trump embraces the huckster credo that it doesn’t matter what they say about you as long as they’re saying something about you — and he’s milking this for all it’s worth. What better way to rile up his millions of devoted haters than to paint himself, and by extension all of them, as victims? Those bad protesters are infringing on his freedom of speech. Never mind that the speech freely incites violence against said protesters or intense anger at the media who cover it; his devoted fans adore how he says what’s been hidden in their hearts.

Think about that: Millions of Americans harbor profound bigotry against Mexicans, Muslims, women, those with disabilities, the political establishment (come to think of it, that last one is OK). Meanwhile, his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, tries to justify his alleged assault against a female reporter from Trump-friendly Breitbart as an understandable mistake. He thought she was someone from mainstream media. Well, in that case …

Journalists have routinely victimized Trump, so the narrative goes, with our constant “dishonest” reporting. But aren’t we the same people who his opponents bitterly complain are giving him massive coverage, an inordinate amount of basically free advertising because the showman vacuums in huge ratings? Again, Trump has unified all sides. Everyone is a victim.

But then, martyrdom is the coin of the realm in the Orwellian world of politics. The far right constantly rails about a “war on religion,” meaning that the religionists are not allowed to discriminate against groups, like gays, who violate their beliefs. Complaints about the obscene divide between the super-rich and everyone else are dismissed as “class warfare,” which ignores the reality that it’s those in the upper, make that stratospheric, class who have waged war by bribing our leaders in government to make sure they’re not held accountable for their grotesque financial misdeeds.

And, of course, it’s those people of color who have so discriminated against whites by demanding that they are treated fairly by the legal system and that society in general gives them equal opportunity. White people, at least a lot of them, feel they are under siege, and Donald Trump is here to protect them — maybe become President of the Disunited States of America. And perhaps sell a few steaks and bottles of wine in the process. After all, “a day without wine is like a day without sunshine.” In this campaign, though, it’s more like a day without whine.

What is otherwise known as resentment politics is veering from incendiary to explosive. We need honorable politicians to lower the temperature. Unfortunately, there’s a real shortage of them.

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