Sound of the Trump-et

I was reading Frank Rich’s analysis of the Trump phenomenon at New York Magazine, when I heard that John Boehner would resign .

Reading Rich with Boehner’s resignation in mind just served to underscore the travesty that is today’s American political landscape.

According to Rich, Trump’s “passport to political stardom” has been “his uncanny resemblance to a provocative fictional comic archetype.” His character

 is a direct descendant of Twain’s 19th-century confidence men: the unhinged charlatan who decides to blow up the system by running for office — often the presidency — on a platform of outrageous pronouncements and boorish behavior. Trump has taken that role, the antithesis of the idealist politicians enshrined by Frank Capra and Aaron Sorkin, and run with it. He bestrides our current political landscape like the reincarnation not of Joe McCarthy (that would be Ted Cruz) but of Jay Billington Bulworth….

In résumé and beliefs, Trump is even closer to the insurgent candidate played by Tim Robbins and reviled as “a crypto-fascist clown” in the mockumentary Bob Roberts (1992) — a self-congratulatory right-wing Wall Street success story, beauty-pageant aficionado, and folksinging star whose emblematic song is titled “Retake America.” Give Trump time, and we may yet find him quoting the accidental president played by Chris Rock in Head of State (2003): “If America was a woman, she would be a big-tittied woman. Everybody loves a big-tittied woman!”

Rich points out that Trump embarrasses the GOP by saying in public what “real” Republicans keep private.

Republican potentates can’t fight back against him because the party’s base has his back. He’s ensnared the GOP Establishment in a classic Catch-22: It wants Trump voters — it can’t win elections without them — but doesn’t want Trump calling attention to what those voters actually believe.

 Rich’s devastating analysis of the Trump phenomenon, together with John Boehner’s resignation (to the barely veiled glee of the party’s Neanderthal wing) confirm the GOP’s descent into know-nothingness and farce– and its utter inability to govern.

We may be entering an “End Times” rather different from the one anticipated by the GOP’s fundamentalist base. The question is whether the “Trump-et” is sounding for a complete melt-down and disintegration of the once Grand Old Party, or the beginning of a difficult but necessary climb back to something approaching sanity.


  1. How about comparing Trump to the “real deal”; Huey Long? No fictional character but a real life snake oil salesman whose escapades are part of this country’s political history.

  2. Speaker Boehner’s resignation suggests a farther drift to the right of the Republicans and less likelihood of compromise in the House. In short, the Republicans are going to become more combative and less willing to compromise, there will be more confrontation and less cooperation, more posturing and less comraderie. It is going to get increasingly nasty.

  3. JoAnn, Huey Long has many bad traits, but your comparison misses some important points. Before he was Governor or Senator, Long fought in court against monolith monopoly corporations. As Governor, he provided free school text books to all children, even to the black children if I am remembering right. He created (or enhanced) Louisiana State University. He paved a bunch of roads. For all of his faults, he at least provided government services, and he made sure to share them with all the people. When he ran for President, it was on a populist, rather than an elitist, message.

  4. After deleting what I just typed, here is all I have to say : Damn it Sheila, why don’t you at least run for Governor of Indiana? With your intelligence and knowledge you could even win over the idiots that have, so far, refused to listen to facts.

  5. After deleting what I just typed, here is all I have to say : Damn it Sheila, why don’t you at least run for Governor of Indiana? With your intelligence and knowledge you could even win over the idiots that have, so far, refused to listen to facts.

  6. But Greg; didn’t Huey Long get paid under the table for many of these services by the groups and businesses supplying materials for public needs? Even current Republicans provide just enough services to keep constituents re-electing them; most of the services are the obvious ones that cannot be ignored and the lobbyists are never far away. Huey Long, like Jim Jones and David Koresh, became saturated with power and strayed from the straight and narrow…not that Trump has ever trod the straight and narrow. Trump blasted onto the political scene with Trump-ets blaring, waving his billions and, for the time being, probably greasing palms along his campaign route. Even Ted Bundy did’t spend 24/7 kidnapping, raping and torturing young girls; his public face fooled even friends till his true self was uncovered. Trump and most Republicans are simply using a different form of rape to maintain their control. We need to carry a jar of Vaseline with us at all times when dealing with politicians today.

  7. Thanks Prof K. Excellent message today. Based on what we saw in the 1060’s, if the Donald messes with the folks who always get what they want for long enough and if it looks like he is going to be a long term problem for them, he may find himself greeted by a “Lone Crazed Gunmen”. We had a lot of those folks suddenly appear when powerful interests were imperiled in the 1960’s. I think the Donald may be in for a horrible surprise if he keeps exposing the Right Wing for what it really is. They are not nice when they are angry.

  8. What is occurring in the Republican Party’s presidential race this year appears to be a three ring circus. One ring marked Tea Party, one marked Evangelicals, and one marked GOP with an emphasis on the “O”. There is a ringmaster named Trump who uses a whip to keep the acts going. That whip is his big mouth. The audience is made up of ticket holding members of the party and those of us who like to slip under the tent to watch and laugh and be horrified. Each ring has a group of jugglers who toss numerous balls in the air as they dance about their respective rings. Balls fly into the air going this way or that, and the ball tossed is not necessarily the one caught. The crowds cheer the spectacle. The unplanned chaos brings shouts and screams as the media tries to capitalize on the attention such craziness brings not caring that it is adding itself to the show. Meanwhile, the pundits agonize as to its meaning.

  9. Huey long also put in place a health care network and had hospitals built all over the state. Unlike the current crop of pols on the take, he never forgot where he came from.

  10. Theresa, very apt description. I enjoyed it.

    I’ve written before of the science problem of distinguishing signal from noise. When there are many variables all changing over time, some with regularity, some randomly, it’s hard to get the needle from the haystack. So, what are we to make of the current political noise?

    Trump doesn’t want to be President. He’d rather make billion$ as a celebrity.

    The most obvious oligarchy tools Scott W and R Scott have dropped out. Jeb is still in the running but it’s hard to run with both feet in your mouth. The only one of the rest with some appeal beyond their playground mates is Marco Rubio. I think he will emerge from the noise as the signal. Extreme enough for the Tea Party, slick enough to fool the rest. His Achilles heel is climate change where he’s stuck now with being completely and obviously wrong.

    Hillary is still the most broadly qualified Democrat but the GOP in their desperation to prove that Democrats are no more respectable than they may randomly stumble across something bad, real, and sticky.

    I personally think that the odds are against it but it could happen.

    IMO Bernie is doing a wonderful job of showing the country that extremism in pursuit of what America has always been about is wonderful to behold but I think that his enthusiasm makes a better Senator than president.

    So I’m predicting that Hillary will emerge the Dem candidate, if not she’ll be replaced by Biden or Warren, and she’ll run against Rubio.

    Right now the biggest problem that the GOP candidate has to face is that Obama’s success is getting harder and harder to deny and that trajectory could very well continue until Election Day.

    Republicans have become like us Buffalo Bills fans. Losers with hope. But after so long that becomes hopeless losers. They can’t even make up a winning scenario.

    While we can’t afford any less effort on the election because it will determine our future, I’m optimistic at this point.

  11. The comparison between Huey Long and Trump is laughable. Trump was born with silver/gold spoon in his mouth. When in his long money making/ money losing career has he championed the poor? He has had the means and the time to have tackled many a problem in his home town of New York. Where and when did he do anything? You judge people by their actions, not their words. He is in the race because just being in the race fills his oversized ego. He wants the position in order to have the power. Power! Power to order people and armies, and agencies around. He has no agenda for what he will do with it once he has it. He will make that up when the time comes. Meanwhile, he gives voice to the bigots, the uninformed, the drunks and the paranoid among us. He is not so much as a threat, as he is a mirror.

  12. I was comparing Long’s and Trump’s general demeanors, their speech patterns, their over-the-top rant style of campaigning; both were clowns to watch as they drew in unassuming hoards of followers and voters. People have compared President Obama to President Lincoln; neither of whom strayed from their course attempting to maintain the union, standing strong and never appearing to get frazzled. Their roots were comparable but their routes were not.

  13. Exactly what the Republicans want is a bit of a mystery. Trump, Carson and Carly Fiorina are the top tier. The common tread in choices is an outsider. Beyond that details are lacking in their platforms. The rest are way back in the pack. Scott Walker seemed to have had it all for a while, union busting credentials, building a wall across the Canadian border and Koch Money, but he sank like a lead weight.

    Trump would be ultimate point of what Republicans want. Trump is loud, aggressive and is not the slightest bit constrained in his utterances, whether they are personal attacks, or sweeping generalizations. Trump is even strong enough to take shots at Faux News. Carson is a creationist, i.e., Genesis Creation type. No, Big Bang for Ben Carson. Carly Fiorina has a checkered business past.

    One take away I have is that CNN, MSNBC and Faux News have totally transformed themselves into reality news for the ratings. The pundits on these channels stir the pot to produce these almost Jerry Springer shouting matches among themselves and the candidates, which leads to the extreme. The McMega-Media has virtual black out on Bernie Sanders. The McMega-Media has concluded that since Hillary is sinking in the polls, we must want another Corporate Democrat, like Joe Biden. No, the answer is Sanders is moving up because of who and what he is.

  14. You’re right, Jo Ann. I misread you. Still, I stand by my comments on Trump and his ego. A shrink would have a field day with this guy. As for the rest of the mess that is the Republican Party, I don’t have a clue as to what is going to happen to those fools. All I do know is that there has been a real and tangible shift in both political parties. “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride”.

  15. Like Trump, Huey Long was a colorful character; however, for me, the similarity ends at that point. Long presented a decidedly progressive form of the Democrat Party, especially in his home state, Louisiana. He was detested by the elite Democrats, called the regulars, who lived in New Orleans and upset their apple cart.

    Here’s a short video clip of Long delivering a bit of his typical oratory that captured the hearts and souls of those without deep pockets and ultimately brought about his assassination by Dr Carl Weiss, also a Democrat.

  16. From NYTimes’ Gail Collins.

    “The Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood. There are many, many reasons that idea is not going anywhere. We will not enumerate them, since it would require the mention of the term “budget reconciliation process.” However, the minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, had expressed confidence that Planned Parenthood would be safe even if the Republicans “vote their alleged hearts out.””

    “We should spend more time quoting Nancy Pelosi. Also noting that in recent years, the nation has avoided a raft of political cataclysms because Pelosi has delivered crucial votes whenever Boehner could not get his own majority to behave in a minimally responsible manner.”

    “Anyway, under normal circumstances, Boehner would have used the Democratic votes to keep the government funded. Then the right wing would have descended on him like a band of vicious wombats.”

    The purpose of Democrats is to prevent Republicans from destroying themselves as well as the country. Sort of like suicide bomber intervention.

  17. Louie; thanks so much, I needed a good laugh this morning. I had actually typed a response to the article but…found my blood pressure going up so I deleted it. I will say that not all mothers who needed child support got it because they couldn’t pay the filing fee. Reported locations of many delinquent fathers were ignored even when mothers had paid the fee and filed for back child support. I voted for him for Prosecutor because he promised to lessen or do away with plea bargains; they seemed to increase under his administration. He was an attractive, charismatic man till elected. Bad as he was; I must be honest and admit, if I had to choose between Goldsmith and Trump – I would double my blood pressure medication and vote for Goldsmith.

    I would still like to know if Nuvo has a home delivery service; I frequently enjoyed that paper when I worked downtown.

  18. Sheila: Home run! Theresa: Outstanding comparison of the GOP to a three-ring circus! We may never see anything like this again in our lifetimes–at least I hope not!

  19. IMO those who believe that wealth entitles power are being shown the door. By the Pope, by the people, by events. They will not exit voluntarily but inevitably. Democracy has made a comeback.

    Big change though always contains risk. Starting all over again means trying things new.

    We the people can and should celebrate victory but it’s not a good time to rest and recuperate yet; the big work is yet ahead.

    We’ve learned. We’ve found the next level. Let’s embrace reality by stopping the pendulum at the middle of the road.

  20. “The question is whether the “Trump-et” is sounding for a complete melt-down and disintegration of the once Grand Old Party, or the beginning of a difficult but necessary climb back to something approaching sanity.”

    A “complete” melt-down of the GOP suggests there has already been a melt-down. Yet the Republican is enjoying unprecedented success since 2008. The GOP controls a record number of legislative chambers and governorships and has majorities in Congress, the size of which hasn’t been seen in 80 years. Meanwhile all the Democrats have seemed to be able to win is the White House, and it is increasingly unlikely the party will be able to do that in 2016. You ought to be writing about what is wrong with the Democratic Party which continues to lose elections at an alarming rate. I know that doesn’t fit your narrative though which is always Republicans bad, Democrats good, conservatives bad, liberals good. It might be time though to approach politics with a more open mind, particularly in light of the overwhelming electoral evidence that your narrative about how the GOP is failing is wrong.

  21. Pete, you’re right…PP is safe for now. But PPs days as a government funded private organization (1/3 of its budget comes from taxpayers) are numbered. It’s not a popular organization, even among many Democrats. (There are a lot more pro-life Democrats than pro-choice Republicans.) If a Republican is elected President in 2016, which is increasingly likely ,especially if the Democrats don’t substitute Biden for HRC as the nominee, then PP funding is out the door in a year.

  22. Ahh Paul the good old days when Fox successfully sold snake oil by the barrel. But eventually most consumers observe over time that the snake oil takers don’t get well. Ever. What’s that about?

    The bogie man is coming. The sky is falling. Armageddon is around the corner. The Second Coming is all that will save us. Yet every day is better than the previous.

    Marketing is a miracle worker but then there is the Hugo. How do you sell that?

    You give we the people insufficient credit. We do learn, at least enough of us do over time.

    Look up the day on your conservative calendar when Rush first proposed himself smarter than Al Gore. Or that Jimmie Carter was a village idiot and Ronnie close to God.

    None of it’s come true, Paul. Nothing.

  23. When conservatives were decimating workers in order to pay executives more lavishly it was done under the banner of “downsizing”. When the revolution began they ducked back into the foxhole and changed the name to “right-sizing”. Not a different process but a different name.

    Is government right sized now?

    Like corporations it depends on what assumptions about the future are made.

    In corporations the assumption was generally made that business would decline and it was easier to reduce the bottom line than increase the top line. Of course as that happened in the big picture consumption went down with payroll. So the first company to pull that trick benefited but as more and more did the consumption drop overtook the costs saved and the avalanche started. Thus endith the chapter according to Bush.

    Obama’s whole Presidency was based on optimism about the future and that fuels growth. We grew into our government as we always had.

    Every day managers of both private and public resources ask can I do more with what I have? The answer is always yes.

    Every day business managers ask can I make more money regardless of the cost to others? Government managers ask how can we give our customers, everyone, more for their efforts? Tension.

    We don’t benefit from reducing that tension. At least 90% of us don’t.

    So effective government has been restored and that makes conservatives as nervous as growing business versus shrinking the workforce did.

  24. NUVO is distributed each Thursday Morning to several places including all libraries, several hospitals, a lot of restaurants, many of whom have it outside the door. It is also at some doctor and dental offices. You can find it on several downtown streets wherever they have distribution
    boxes for things like USA Today or other leaflets that are free.

  25. Sheila, you can reclaim a lot of that wasted time by skipping the irrelevant New York Times and the obscure Frank Rich.

    Literally nobody cares what someone named Frank Rich says about Donald Trump.

  26. “You ought to be writing about what is wrong with the Democratic Party which continues to lose elections at an alarming rate.”

    Easy. It’s become a party for misfits. It’s the party of ninnies, the uneducated, the weak, the frail, the cowardly, the weirdos, the oddballs, the alternative-lifestyle crowd.

    It’s not a party that appeals to normal, healthy, meat-eaters who can bench close to their weight.

  27. “Trump and most Republicans are simply using a different form of rape to maintain their control. ”

    This is disgusting.

    You’ve just cheapened the loss and harm suffered by every real victim of rape.

    Words have meanings. Use them correctly.

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

    Lewis Carroll

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