🇺🇸 All of Which Are American Dreams...
The Crime: Crippled America
The Guilty Party: Donald Trump
Overview: He certainly did
Why I Hate It...
As I said, many of his talking points are more polished and fleshed out here. He references some statistics and action items. He gives an explanation of how he would make Mexico pay for that wall he's so fond of. The explanation is vague on the specifics, but it does sound... let's go with "less implausible" than before. On the whole, his reasoning is thin and ultimately boils down to things being true because he says they are true. My tax plan will be revenue neutral. Why? Believe me, that's why. Even the title, Crippled America is simply taken as given. He never offers any justification, other than that he hates Obama and wasn't all that thrilled with W either (there are chiding asides to politicians "you could have a beer with" and a clear distaste for the war in Iraq). But when you take it all in, you get an appreciation for what he imagines the presidency to be. He resents experts and diplomats because he doesn't see the president as the leader of a coalition. He thinks of the U.S. as Cosa Nostra, and he imagines the president as Godfather.
Knowing this, some of his head-scratchier moments begin to make more sense. A recurring theme is that America needs to project strength and then use that strength to get more out of our allies and enemies. Build up the military and then shake down the planet. He talks about how Iraq should be paying us for all that we've done there (never mind who invaded whom...). It's nuts if you're a diplomat, but it makes sense if your understanding of the world is based purely on the projection of physical power. Early on, he fondly quotes former heavyweight champion and convicted rapist Mike Tyson. "Iron Mike" is a symbol of power, and power is to be revered. He was also a popular figure during the halcyon 80's, and while it's subtle, a romantic idealization of that era pervades the book, even extending beyond the typical Reagan-worship we are accustomed to from a modern GOP candidate. It borderlines on sweetness, actually, and it's one of the more humanizing facets of the book. That, along with his sheer chutzpah, makes him rather compelling. He is, without question, one hell of a salesman.
But oh, what he's selling. Scientists are lying about climate change, except the ones who think wind turbines cause more carbon pollution than gas power (!?). The Republicans should have sued Obama for lying about Obamacare (!??). How dare the city of Miami enforce zoning restrictions on my 80-foot flagpole and 300-sq-foot flag when it's the only way to show how much I love my country (!?!?). Or my personal favorite, "When I say I'm a winner, I'm not bragging." Never mind the small matter of the definition of the word "bragging". One might be tempted to question his mental faculties if it weren't all so transparently disingenuous.
But there's something to said for the parts that aren't disingenuous--or, the 10% of the book that isn't just pandering to conservatives. There's no question, for instance, that he loves his children or that he values hard work and shrewd negotiating. He argues against accusations of misogyny, and I almost believe him. Almost. He makes a very compelling case that he only treats women like shit because he treats everyone like shit, but is perfectly willing to give a woman a fair chance if she's tough enough. Similarly, when his policy proposals cut against the usual GOP playbook (always couched as "so obvious even the Democrats believe it"), such as improving infrastructure, you can't help thinking that this is an issue he really cares about. Alas, he never goes into where the money for these projects will come from any deeper than "Believe me!" or his plan to extort it from the countries we invade.
So ultimately, Donald J. Trump is an even bigger mystery to me now than he was before. And that makes the book interesting. Now don't get me wrong, it's also terrifying and brain-hurty and pandering to the worst base impulses of humanity. But it is also interesting.
In CONSUMED WITH HATE, Kurt is revisiting media that he absolutely did not like one bit. See more posts.