Friday, January 08, 2016

Trump: A "Daring Liar" with an Audience

By Tom Maertens
Mankato Free Press
Posted: Friday, January 8, 2016

Politics ain’t beanbag, the saying goes. This country has a long history of rough-and-tumble elections, including so-called dirty tricks by the likes of Chuck Colson and Lee Atwater, and their protégé, Karl Rove.

Donald Trump is one-of-a-kind, however, a free-ranging insult machine. He has referred to women as bimbos, fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals, and branded Mexican immigrants as criminals, drug dealers and rapists. More than 100 black ministers and religious activists have condemned Trump’s “divisive and racist language.”

Openly flouting “that political correctness crap,” as Trump calls it, has only increased his popularity; a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University survey found that 68 percent of Americans agree that political correctness (not further defined) is a big problem. A Rasmussen poll put the figure at 71 percent.

Surprisingly, even minority groups are hostile to political correctness, despite the inhibition it provides against ethnic slurs.

A New York Times analysis shows Trump is strongest among the less affluent and less educated, apparently unaware that Trump has repeatedly asserted that wages are too high. People who are prepared to vote against their own economic interests are frequently labelled “low-information voters;” Trump’s term would probably be something like “really dumb.”

The same Times analysis shows that Trump supporters are found predominantly in an arc stretching from the deep South up the spine of the Appalachians, in regions that exhibit more racism, as measured by the prevalence of Google searches for racial slurs and racist jokes. No surprise there; Trump polls best with racists and dim-wits — “losers.”

According to polls, whites with a high school diploma or less support Trump disproportionately because they are alarmed at the changes they see, including the election of a brown-skinned president. Issac Bailey, writing for Politico, contends that impending minority status has tens of millions of white Americans “scared out of their minds,” and, reports the Washington Post, driving traffic to Stormfront, a white supremacist website. The armed “Patriot Movement” occupying federal land in Oregon, is a white supremacist offshoot.

Trump’s proposal to deport illegal, principally brown-skinned, immigrants, is popular among blue collar workers for the same reason. GOP campaign ads stoke such racial fears, and for example, have pictured Obama with much darker skin to appeal to these same prejudices, the Washington Post reported.

What we are witnessing is a rich white guy inciting poor white guys to be angry at those people and not at the ones who rig the system to benefit the rich. Conservative columnist George Will asked, is there a disagreeable human trait that Trump does not have?

Trump’s plan to ban Muslim immigration is even more popular, favored overwhelmingly by Republicans and by an overall majority of Americans, who are alarmed about terrorism.

Besides playing on white alienation and racial resentment, Trump regularly attacks the press — a favorite whipping-boy for the right — despite receiving around-the-clock coverage. Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has determined that Trump got three times the coverage of all other candidates combined in the first week of December, a total of 75.5 percent of the coverage. The next closest candidate was Ted Cruz, with 6.4 percent of the coverage.

The Tyndall Report, which tracks nightly news viewership, found that ABC World News Tonight, for example, devoted 81 minutes to Trump and less than one minute to Bernie Sanders during the same time period, even though Sanders beats Trump by 13 points in the latest Quinnipiac poll, and set a fund raising record for most donors.

No network has surpassed the gushing New Year’s eve coverage of Trump’s entire family by the sycophants at Fox News, however.

The Pulitzer-prize winning fact-checking site Politifact awarded Trump its “Lie of the Year” prize, not for one lie, but for his sheer volume of lies, including his “birther” claims about Obama, his insistence that “thousands” cheered the destruction of the World Trade Center, and the assertion that “81 percent of Whites are killed by blacks.”

It found that 75 percent of Trump’s statements are “mostly or entirely false;” the remaining 25 percent were “half true” or “mostly true.” Such fabrications only make Trump more popular with, um, low information voters.

Despite such damaging assessments, a recent poll found that 60 percent of Republicans believe Trump to be honest and trustworthy, a finding that suggests cult followers refusing to acknowledge unpleasant realities.

H. L. Mencken explained the phenomenon years ago: “The men the American public admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”

Tom Maertens served as National Security Council director for nonproliferation and homeland defense under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and as deputy coordinator for counter-terrorism in the State Department during and after 9/11. He lives in Mankato.

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