A friend just asked me an interesting question: why do you suppose no one has interviewed Dick Lugar about the merits/demerits of the agreement with Iran?
A good question, to which I have no good response. But it does raise another question: when and how did the party of Dick Lugar, Bob Dole, Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller–among many, many others–become the party of Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal and Donald Trump?
I have resisted writing about Trump, because really…why waste the digital ink? But it occurs to me that the reason I find him so repulsive is because he embodies everything that is wrong with my country; he’s like the “ugly American” tourists who used to roam Europe routinely embarrassing the rest of us.
- Start with the narcissism: the belief that he is “exceptional.” The insistence that he is always right, and any critic is wrong, jealous, unable to appreciate his superiority.
- The glorification of money and the delusion that he is self-made: I’m rich so I’m better, and it’s all due to my brilliance; I don’t owe my (exaggerated) fortune to my inherited wealth, or my ability to avoid the consequences of bad business decisions through multiple bankruptcies, or the “old boys” network available to the sons of well-to-do white Christian males.
- The substitution of witless name-calling for discourse: if I disagree with you, you’re a dummy or a clown. I don’t have to explain why you’re wrong, or what I would do instead, or why my idea is better. Just playground-level epithets.
- The full-throated bigotry and racism: Obama is black, so he couldn’t possibly have been born in the U.S.; brown people are all illegal immigrants who are murderers and rapists.
- The chutzpah. Denigrating John McCain’s service while Trump was taking advantage of deferments available to the pampered and privileged.
- The confusion of tasteless and tacky with quality.
There is more, but what I don’t understand is how a significant part of the Republican base can take this delusional buffoon seriously. He is an embarrassment to the party and the country. Granted, the rest of the field ranges from undistinguished (to put it mildly) to terrifying, but Trump’s antics are so outsized as to make even Rick Perry (“oops!”) look sentient by comparison.
We live in a world that is complicated and increasingly interdependent. We need leadership that understands those complexities and can analyze and debate the available options for dealing with them–not purveyors of bumper-sticker slogans, faux machismo and belligerent bullshit.
The party of Dick Lugar and Bill Hudnut is long gone.