This Column Is Not about Donald J. Trump

By Norman, Tony | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), August 5, 2016 | Go to article overview

This Column Is Not about Donald J. Trump


Norman, Tony, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Recently, a buddy felt compelled to mount a mini-intervention of sorts with me. My relentless Trump-bashing, as he called it, was growing a little stale. It was time to vary readers' diet with other outrages.

He had a point. Four or five columns in the last month was enough. No one could ever accuse me of not having done my part to save the republic. Constantly harping on a blustery charlatan like he's the Antichrist could turn me into a one-trick pony in the eyes of inattentive readers who haven't seen the two decades' worth of columns I wrote before Mr. Trump announced his candidacy.

So, I promised that whatever happened this week, I would not be goaded into writing yet another column about Donald J. Trump. Besides, folks across the political spectrum are waking up to the danger his unique brand of demagoguery represents. There's no reason to devote as many column inches preaching to the increasingly converted. His poll numbers are cratering. With each outrageous statement, the absurdity of his candidacy becomes more manifest to even the most cantankerous dullard. Most of the Republican Party establishment, though composed of weasels and mountebanks, appear to be only days away from open revolt against their presidential standard-bearer.

As someone who has kept an eye on national politics since the late '70s, I've gotten used to a certain rhythm in national elections. Nothing, including the rough-and-tumble weirdness of the Nixon era, could've prepared anyone for the sheer insanity that emanates from the Trump presidential camp every day. If we were to dig up Franz Kafka, Salvador Dali and Groucho Marx and demand that they brainstorm a presidential race as absurd as this one, they would have to retreat to the land of shadows empty-handed.

The late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson routinely filed drug-and alcohol-fueled parables of Nixonian debauchery worthy of the sleaziest Grand Guignol, but even he would've had a hard time believing his senses during this presidential cycle. There are things that happen every day on the Trump campaign trail that have never happened before in American politics. What used to be "givens" for a candidate, such as possessing more knowledge than your least intelligent constituents about the basic workings of American democracy, seem anachronistic when Donald Trump's willful ignorance is factored into the discussion.

I knew all of this when I promised my friend I would give Donald Trump a pass in today's column. Dear long-suffering reader, I had every intention of letting this cup pass me by - honest - but since that conversation earlier this week, so many absurd things have happened that it would be criminal not to take note of them. I'm compelled to bear witness. That's what I do. Because of my own very obvious character faults, I'm once again forced to let more high-minded subjects sit on the shelf until this fiery orange phlegm at the heart of our body politic has been expectorated. …

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