Sunday 25 September 2016

Everyone else has come armed with daggers - but Trump has an AK47

Niall O'Dowd

Published 09/09/2015 | 02:30

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pulls his hair back to show that it is not a toupee while speaking at a recent ally in Greenville, South Carolina. Photo: AP/Richard Shiro
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pulls his hair back to show that it is not a toupee while speaking at a recent ally in Greenville, South Carolina. Photo: AP/Richard Shiro

New Yorker magazine had a fascinating insight into Donald Trump in its last issue. It was somewhat buried in a long story about the downfall of Atlantic City, where casinos have tumbled into bankruptcy because of intense competition from new gambling palaces in nearby states.

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Trump was once king of the high rollers, as the article noted, owning Trump Plaza and the Trump Taj Mahal and the Trump Marina.

The article also quoted one former casino employee as saying that when Trump visited with his then wife Ivana in the 1980s, all black employees were asked to leave the main floor.

It seems that Mr and Mrs Trump did not like having African Americans around the place, a devastating insight into this year's runaway leader of the Republican race.

But wait, there's more: 'Huffington Post' reported that Trump, after a white female jogger was raped in Central Park in 1989, created controversy in New York's black community when he took out full-page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty for the African-American teenage suspects - who were all later proved innocent.

He told a Trump Plaza manager that "laziness" was a problem among blacks and he was sued by a government agency for refusing to rent to them.

Despite such insults, or perhaps because of them, not to mention his savage rhetoric against Latinos and women, Trump continues to soar in the polls and is increasingly looking like a serious contender.

I have to admit I was one of those who dismissed him as a summer crush, especially for the media keen to fill in the silly season pages with news of any kind.

I thought he was similar to Sarah Palin, the unknown vice-presidential candidate and obscure governor of Alaska who hit the media world like a firestorm when John McCain unexpectedly selected her in 2008.

There was an initial love fest, but when Palin announced one of her insights into Russian policy was being able to see Russia across the Bering Straits from her Alaska home the mood changed.

Suddenly, she was revealed for what she was, hopelessly out of touch and out of her depth and McCain's candidacy sank like a stone against Obama in 2008.

Many thought the same with Trump, but the massive paradox seems to be that the more racist and ignorant he becomes, the less his popularity seems to suffer.

He is tapping into powerful sentiments, some of them legitimate.

The overwhelming sense that lobbies for the rich and powerful are dominating Washington politics runs deep, and Trump sounds convincing when he points out that no one will own him with his $4bn fortune.

He also challenges the Republican conventional wisdom that nobody should ever pay more taxes, saying that massively rich hedge fund managers could well have their tax loopholes removed - leading to a remarkable 'New York Times' headline by Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman that "Trump Has It Right on Economics".

He has also confused the hell out of his GOP rivals, used to conventional races full of poll-tested platitudes aiming to please specific segment of voters.

Trump insults minorities and women, attacks members of the media by name and can be relied on for an inflammatory quote no other politician would make, at least once a day - and even got away with slandering Vietnam war hero John McCain for being captured to begin with.

It's as if every other candidate has come to the fray armed with daggers and knives and Trump has an AK47 he is spraying in every direction. His racist comments on blacks and Hispanics have liberated many former Tea Party supporters to roar "Right on" - they finally find someone who articulates their simmering anger and clichés about lazy blacks, crime-ridden Latinos and rampant illegals crossing the border.

Trump's lack of real foreign policy ability was underscored in an interview with right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt, who quickly divined that Trump was utterly unfamiliar with the bad actors currently operating in the Middle East.

Yet it hardly seemed to matter as his rating continued to climb, and he is within shouting distance of winning both the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary as summer turns to fall. The establishment is reeling. His two closest opponents are retired African American neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, both of whom are as non-traditional as Trump and just as quirky.

The forlorn figure of Jeb Bush is in the 6-8pc range, vainly trying to club Trump to death with a noodle for all the impact he is having.

The fact that three political outsiders are in the lead spells big trouble for the party, already over-dependent on the white vote - which will only be 64pc or so of the electorate this time, with Hispanic and black support vital to win the white House.

Trump, however, has overnight re-invented the game of politics and proved that conventional wisdom can be stood on its head.

Can it last an entire campaign? He is the only politician clearly having fun in the entire race, from tight-lipped Hillary to buttoned-down Jeb who had both done all their calculations the old way.

Trump has used a different calculator and come up with entirely different political formula where 2 plus 2 equals 5 at present,

Can he keep it going?

I was one of those who thought, no way. But the disgust and dread of how current politics is practised has clearly ignited a prairie fire that could burn all the way to Washington.

President Trump anyone?

Irish Independent

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