Op-ed: The Teflon Donald

  • By Bob Franken
  • Monday, November 30, 2015 4:42pm
  • Opinion

If you’re among those who watch the news channels, good for you. But perhaps you’ve stopped. There are a lot of good reasons for not bothering, but one of them certainly could be the repetition. I mean, how many times do people want to hear some commentator discuss Donald Trump?

The question is always the same: This time, did he go too far? Donnie has become the shock jock of the presidential campaign, routinely ignoring any rules of good taste with his crude and ridiculous comments about, well, you name it — or more accurately, you name them. Hispanics? Yep. Muslims? You betcha, time and time again. Minorities? He wants to rough them up. Women? Sure. Even his own daughter? He could be fairly called Mr. Misogynist. And now we can add the disabled, as he’s cruelly made fun of the physical limitations of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a chronic condition that limits the movements of his hands and arms.

Kovaleski also is a distinguished, longtime reporter who dared to question Trump’s lie that he personally had watched New Jersey Muslims celebrate the 9/11 attacks. When the Times, and many luminaries in journalism, reacted to his malignant comments with outrage, The Donald reacted as he so often does, and it was not by apologizing; he learned a long time ago that “I’m sorry” is for suckers.

What he does instead is pathetic: He goes passive-aggressive. He’ll contend that his critics are too sensitive, or that he had no intention to be offensive with his offensiveness. Perish the thought that he was deriding the disabled when he attacked Kovaleski, he insisted: “I have no idea who this reporter, Serge Kovalski (sic), is, what he looks like or his level of intelligence,” using one of the classic passive-aggressive tricks of mispronouncing an adversary’s name. Then he added to the garbage heap: Kovaleski “should stop using his disability to grandstand.” Again, more stereotypical passive-aggressive behavior, blaming the victim for his toxic attacks. By the way, still another term for this behavior is emotional cowardice. To put it in Donaldlike terms, Trump is “chicken(expletive).”

Still to borrow an old Southern expression, each time he falls into his own (expletive), he comes out smelling like a rose. His poll numbers stay mired in concrete at between 25 and 30 percent. The Trump faithful adore him. Setting aside the reality that some of them are outright bigots, many of his devout supporters insist that they appreciate that he “tells it like it is,” even when, with his blatant lies and exaggerations, he’s really telling it like it isn’t.

He’s speaking to the seething anger of millions in this nation who just want to strike back at all the more polite politicians and establishment elites who have handed a raw deal to average Americans and sent our country dangerously close to the toilet.

They have a good point. Day after day we hear about how the superwealthy and their government puppets game the game. They see their leaders pass laws legalizing what should be financial crimes. They hear of so-called experts who concoct studies about pharmaceuticals, sponsored by drug companies who want to peddle unsafe medications at astronomical prices. Perhaps they read the latest expose of Coca-Cola making the major financial contribution to a supposed anti-obesity organization to churn out papers that claim to belittle the huge role that sugary soft drinks play in this public health menace.

So the Trump supporters have every right to be furious. We all do. Throughout history, even recent history, someone comes along who wants to fill the trust vacuum with hatred. We all know how that’s gone before. But Donald Trump shows that many of us haven’t learned the right lesson.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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