Thursday, May 26, 2016

"...Oh, Say Can You See..."

Historically, America admires politicians with vision.

There's just something about candidates who offer us the adventure and/or excitement of what waits for us just over the next horizon that makes it hard to resist flipping the little switch next to that candidate's name.

Yeah, we're all pretty down with that vision thing.

Not a lot of it to be seen this time around, though.

Oh, the fervent faithful will counter that their particular favorite son or daughter, be they a Donald or a Bernie or a Hillary, do, too, have vision.

But the vision I'm talking about is the kind that inspires us to ask what we can do for our country.

Not the kind that incites us to get excited about a wall that will surround our country.

Promises, pandering, defiance, demagoguery, frantic and freewheelin' fear mongering?

Oh, yeah. The still tentative trio are offering that up by the barge full.


Nah, not really.

But, the candidates aren't the only ones who are lacking vision this go round.

John and Jane American Voter are pretty lacking, too.

And it's that lack of vision that explains a lot about why Donald continues to do and say pretty much everything wrong and, yet, still be seen by so many as oh so right.

Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM's weekly program "The Dean Obeidallah Show," a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of the politics blog The Dean's Report. Follow him on Twitter: @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his

(CNN) Hypocrisy is not a strong enough word to describe Donald Trump's recent attacks on Bill Clinton's past alleged sexual misconduct from the 1990s. We really need to come up with a new term and maybe call it "pulling a Trump."

Who could have ever predicted that Trump, who had publicly defended Bill Clinton in the 1990s when these allegations first surfaced, and even cruelly slammed the women who made the accusations, would now try to make Bill's conduct an issue? 

Thankfully, Tuesday on CNN's "New Day," Chris Cuomo pressed Trump campaign surrogate and lawyer Michael Cohen on this issue in what turned out to be truly a master class in cross-

examination. Cuomo started out by sharing his view that Trump raising this issue was "bad for him" since Trump "defended Bill Clinton for years" against these very claims.

Cuomo specifically noted that Trump had in the past said the "same allegations you guys are talking about now were a waste of time, were wrong, were hollow, that Bill Clinton was a terrific guy, that he was a great president, that the impeachment was wrong."

The CNN host further exposed Trump's hypocrisy by highlighting that Trump had not only defended Bill Clinton, but Trump went a step further. He had publicly shamed Clinton's accusers. For example, Cuomo noted that Trump called Paula Jones, who alleged Clinton sexually harassed her, a "loser." And in regard to Linda Tripp from the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Trump had called her a "lying loser" and "the personification of evil." 

Cohen's response was why the word facepalm was invented. He told Cuomo that Trump only said those remarks because "he was being a true friend," adding, "it didn't matter to him at that point in time."

Hmmm, so to Trump, publicly shaming Clinton's accusers as "liars" and "evil" is just what friends do for each other? Interesting idea of friendship.

Cohen then tried to stop the beating Cuomo was inflicting on him by begging to talk about more current issues. OK, let's do just that. If Trump truly believed that Clinton was a sexual predator who assaulted numerous women, then why did Trump passionately praise Bill in a 2012 interview on Fox News?

And I don't mean Trump offered a few niceties in a perfunctory manner. Rather, Trump was like a gushing schoolboy with a crush on both Hillary and Bill Clinton in this must-see interview.
First Trump stated that Hillary, who he now calls an "enabler" of Bill's infidelity, was "a terrific woman." Adding, "I mean I'm a little biased because I've known her for years."

And then, in regard to Bill, he gushed, "I've known her and her husband for years and I really like them both a lot." He went on to say that Bill had just days before the interview made a speech at Trump's Mar-a-Lago private club that was "very well received." Trump then praised Bill again, calling him "a really good guy." 

Of course, this raises the question of who allows a person you truly believe is a serial sexual predator to give a speech at your private club? Add to that, who would donate over $100,000 to that guy's foundation? 

But that's exactly what Trump did with his donation to the Clinton Foundation, a not-for-profit organization started by Bill after he left the White House. (It's unclear the exact amount Trump donated but the Clinton Foundation's website indicates it's somewhere between $100,000 and $250,000.00.) 

And that doesn't even include the seven donations that Trump made to Hillary's past campaigns for the U.S. Senate and even to her 2008 presidential run.

What also makes this line of attack by Trump so bizarre is his well-documented record of abusively sexist comments. And we aren't just talking years ago, when as Megyn Kelly pointed out at a debate, Trump publicly called women he disliked, "fat pigs," "dogs," "slobs," and "disgusting animals." 

During this campaign he mocked Carly Fiorina's face saying, "Would anyone vote for that?" And of course Trump called Kelly a "bimbo" and suggested she was menstruating during the first GOP debate. 

Is Trump crazy like a fox? Or is he simply a guy who can't help but angrily respond to any attack upon on him and one without any master plan? Who knows, but as long as TV hosts challenge Trump and his surrogates like Cuomo did Tuesday, at least his incredible hypocrisy will be on view for all to see.

Since the moment it became obvious that the Trump candidacy was no joke and that his call to arms was actually being answered by millions and not just limited to those who think Freebird ranks with the finest work of Mozart and Beethoven and think Duck Dynasty should have long ago beaten out NOVA for that Peabody Award thing, an even larger number of people have been collectively shaking their heads in wonder, even bewilderment, that the Trump call to arms is being answered by so many and more than a few of those people have been collectively wondering, even asking loudly, when those arms call answerers are going to finally see this guy for the misogynist hypocrite bully that he is.

Here's a simple, albeit unfortunate, answer to that question.


Jeb Bush, in a recent interview, remarked that it was both unkind, and essentially incorrect, to label and dismiss people who very clearly see and hear the outrageous, egregious, even neurotic and/or psychotic things that Trump does and says, as they are often labeled these days, as stupid or idiots.

First, because if there truly are that many stupid and/or idiotic people walking upright amongst us with the right to vote, not to mention the right to bear arms, then we've got far larger problems than the mass support of a screamingly unsuitable candidate for the office of President of the United States.

But, more importantly, and Jeb strikes nail squarely on head here, because that's a misread of the mindset of those many who have supported and voted for the guy thus far.

And who are fully and zealously prepared to support and vote for the guy all the way to the point of watching him review the floats in the Inaugural Parade while somebody texts the nuclear launch codes to his IPad.

These folks, Bush the younger insightfully offers, are often, and in large measure, neither stupid nor idiotic, neither necessarily lacking in cognitive reasoning skills nor deficient in essentially humane core values.

They are, Jeb suggests, simply scared.

They are scared of the world we're living in circa 2016 and the threats both foreign and domestic that threaten us. They are scared of the feelings of helplessness and powerlessness that the disappearance of conventional enemies and the emergence of terrorist enemies conjures up in us all. They are scared of an economy so clearly commandeered, and operated, by a select group of powerful people who, seemingly at a whim, could send us all back to a yesteryear of long unemployment lines and/or selling apples on the street. They are scared of crime and disease and perversion and evil in all the forms it has traditionally taken and the new, even more insidious forms it is taking on with each new day. They are scared that someone is going to come kicking in their door in the middle of the night and rape their women, kill their children and confiscate their weapons, leaving them defenseless and powerless to fight back against terrors seen, unseen....

...and even imagined, thanks to the powers of suggestion, the human personality quirk of too easily believing without any effort made actually confirming and the dynamic, but always potentially devious and destructive, power of social media.


In that light, it's not only understandable, it's expected that a large number of people would easily, fervently and immediately, support, even love, the idea of someone coming along who seems to hold the promise of dealing swiftly and surely with those enemies foreign and domestic, enemies both seen and unseen, taking control back from those powerful few in corrupted command of our economy, take not just a bite out of crime, but chew it up and spit it out as harmless bits and pieces, repair and replace a still antiquated and woefully inadequate health care system, end crime, stop perversion and not only reinforce the locks and bars on that door preventing any late night invasion, but insuring that, in a worst case, no harm would ultimately come to women or children because nighttime terror would be kicking its way into a household rightfully bearing arms and stunningly locked and loaded.

Understandable, even expected, that so many would love the idea of someone coming along promising to do all that for us.

No matter how much actual and real possibility does, or does not, exist inside each promise.

Especially after so many years, even generations, of being lied to in the same old ways by the same old politicians, time after time after time after time.

Make America Great Again.

Who amongst us would reject the possibility, even the tiniest sliver of hope, that was really and genuinely possible?

Even if that possibility came in the form of promises from a misogynist hypocrite bully?

It isn't that even the most zealous supporters of Donald Trump don't see and hear the man for what he is.

And they don't necessarily love the man for what he promises.

They simply love the idea that there might be a chance, even an ice cube's chance, that the guy can deliver on even a few of the promises that he's making.

For the most part, there's nothing wrong with their vision or their ability to see and hear what is plain and obvious before them.

And they're not stupid nor idiots.

They simply love the idea.

And love is blind.

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