Like Muhammad Ali after Joe Frazier’s first hook to his jaw, Donald Trump is still on his feet, but the mouth that fueled his journey to stardom suddenly has its tongue licking blood from its lips.
Like the renowned boxer, who after losing 1971’s Fight of the Century no longer shouted in public, “I am king” and “I am the greatest,” Trump’s big mouth fell silent Tuesday night.
Eulogizing Trump’s presidential bid would be premature before next month’s Super Tuesday. Yet Iowa, the unassuming Midwestern farming state of just over 3 million inhabitants, opened this election shouting in Trump’s ears what the rest of America will hopefully tell him soon: scram.
The Corn Belt state that produced hunting legend Buffalo Bill and cinematic pistol-wielder John Wayne now told the biggest demagogue since Mussolini that leadership is not about brandishing guns and shooting from the lip. It’s about very serious things, and must therefore be left to serious people.
Intoxicated by the polls, Trump reached the point where he felt debating other candidates was beneath him, boasting he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and still not lose votes.
Trump would probably have avoided this conceit had he been as humble as the Iowan who became president, Herbert Hoover, or had he recalled Iowan pollster George Gallup’s insight, that common Americans have common sense.
Last Monday, more than three-quarters of 180,000 predominantly white, conservative and working- class Republican Iowans made it plain that Trump appalled even that kind of electorate, presumably his most natural.
George Gallup’s common Americans, at their first opportunity to impact this election, did not make a choice about who should be either party’s presidential candidate, but they did say plainly who it won’t be: It won’t be Trump.
DONALD TRUMP will not be president of the US because not enough people are the idiots for whom he takes them, and too many people understand that he has disgraced America, humiliated its voters, and debased politics.
Trump has been a disgrace to America because he attacked a war veteran, John McCain, for having fallen into North Vietnamese captivity, where he spent five-and-a-half traumatic years.
Even if Trump had served in the military such a statement would have been appalling, but considering that he has never been a soldier one wonders where such an armchair patriot’s rudeness and frivolity come from, and where they might lead if he lands in the Oval Office.
Listening to such a broadside one had to wonder just what happens to people who spend their days atop the skyscrapers they build as they look down from their lofty abodes on the world, mistaking themselves for giants and the rest of us for ants.
Up in those celestial suites it seems anything can be bought, anyone can be crushed, and any problem can be dismissed as easily solvable if only this or that idiot is pushed out of the way.
When you think of the world this way and are convinced that the voters are imbeciles, you can respond to an issue as explosive and as complex as Islamist terrorism with a vow to ban Muslims entry to the United States.
Listening to such a thought one wonders what side of its ignorance, thoughtlessness and lunacy to first tackle it from: Does this guy plan to have people landing at Kennedy Airport declare their faith? Doesn’t he wonder what this will do to his country’s most cherished ideals, like the separation of religion and state? Does this aspiring president not know there already are 6 million Muslims in the country he wants to rule? If he does know this, doesn’t he ask himself how such a policy will affect them? Evidently, none of this matters when one’s working assumption is that there is a critical mass of voters who are total idiots, and as such have not the faintest idea what a Muslim is other than that Muslims have been killing many non-Muslims of late.
Seen that way, a call “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US until our country’s representatives can figure out what’s going on” becomes the way to move a know-nothing electorate that will now say: “Ah, I have no idea what Muslims are, and it now turns out that ‘our country’s representatives’ also don’t know ‘what’s going on,’ but here is a guy who knows ‘what’s going on’ and also knows what to do about it.”
Judging the undereducated electorate to be big enough to hand him victory, Trump spoke obscenely about women, besmirched blacks, defamed the Hispanic population, and proposed to wall off the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it.
“My voters,” he might have told himself while gazing through his tower’s glass walls at the tenements his target electorate populates, the buses they ride, and the stalls where they eke out a living: “What do they know about the length of the Mexican border, what provoking its government might lead to, or, for that matter, where the hell Mexico is?” America’s politicians may not be geniuses, but they do know what’s going on, certainly as much as Trump knows, and so do most voters. They know enough to understand life is a lot more complex than he makes it seem, and that if such a charlatan arrives at the wheel, life will become even tougher than it already is.
Donald Trump’s political foray has already peaked, and will hopefully nosedive next month. The question therefore is not where his candidacy is headed but what it means. And the answer is it means that we are living in a dangerous era; an era when lines between reality’s harshness and reality TV’s crackpot are blurred; an era when the moneyed few mock the struggling many; an era when a man with no respect for the public, the problems it faces, and the increasingly dangerous world it inhabits comes this close to the button that can turn that world into dust.