Yesterday the Washington Post pointed out that Trump's self-proclaimed expertise includes knowing more than anyone about the military, taxes, bankers, debt, renewables, social media, money… Yesterday the biggest newspaper in crucial, crucial, crucial North Carolina editorialized that “Trump isn't 'smart,' he's a freeloader.”
If he doesn’t pay federal income taxes, then who does pay the bill for all the services and protections the federal government provides? Apparently, it’s up to the little people, and presumably stupid rich people, to pay for the national defense, education, environmental protections, emergency relief and so much else that is vital to the functioning of a safe and stable nation.
Maine's Republican senator, Susan Collins, who has already stated several times that she's not going to vote for the stubby-fingered vulgarian, called for him to release his tax returns as though he was a normal candidate and not some greed-driven sociopath mixed up in an on-going Capone-like criminal enterprise. She says otherwise voters will never know for sure if he's been breaking the law or not. She appeared in this Hillary Clinton TV ad of GOP elected officials that started running nationally today. I hope Trump has some comments on the ad Sunday night at the next debate.
More telling still was Anthony Bourdain's response to a question if he'd have a private dining session with Trump the way he did last week– for his show Parts Unknown with President Obama. “Absolutely fucking not. I’ve been a New Yorker most of my life, [and] for better or worse Mr. Trump is a New Yorker. We know him well here. We’ve watched how he does business and we’ve watched him say things and then we’ve seen whether or not he did those things, we have seen how he treats the people he does business with. I would give the same answer that I would have given 10 years ago, when he was just as loathsome.”
Graydon Carter, a self-identified libertarian, has been the editor of Vanity Fair for just about two-and-a-half decades. He knows Trump even longer than that– since 1983. Owner of three fancy Manhattan restaurants, he's just the kind of elite journalist the insecure, opportunistic, eager for the national attention Trump has always tried to curry favor with. In Carter's case, it never worked. In fact, it wasn't Marco Rubio who first told the public that Trump's small, deformed fingers were an indication of him having a small, deformed penis. In fact, it was Spy, the magazine Carter founded in the late 80's that first dubbed Trump “a short-fingered vulgarian.” It stuck– better than the other phrase they invented to describe Trump, “Queens-born casino operator.” This week, Carter was back with his observations of Trump over the years. (Carter had actually written about Trump's small hands in 1983 for GQ and Trump was so horrified that he sent his agents out to buy up all the issues of the magazine they could find on the newsstands.)
|Carter uses Trump's 2013 quote, “Waverly Inn– worst food in city,” at the top of the restaurant's menu|
In 1993 he took Trump– as a prank– to the White House Correspondents' Association dinner, a follow-up to having once taken Fawn Hall. “Novelty guests don’t know they’re novelty guests. They just think they’re guests.” He wasn't referring to Hall.
That evening in May 1993, Vanity Fair had two tables and we filled them with the likes of Christopher Hitchens, Bob Shrum, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, Peggy Noonan, Tipper Gore, and Vendela Kirsebom, a Swedish model who professionally went by her first name and who was then at or near the top of the catwalk heap. I sat Trump beside Vendela, thinking that she would get a kick out of him. This was not the case. After 45 minutes she came over to my table, almost in tears, and pleaded with me to move her. It seems that Trump had spent his entire time with her assaying the “tits” and legs of the other female guests and asking how they measured up to those of other women, including his wife. “He is,” she told me, in words that seemed familiar, “the most vulgar man I have ever met.”
…Not surprisingly, it being the 80s, Trump was a recurring fixture in the pages of Spy. We ridiculed not just his fingers but also his business judgment, his jaw-dropping pronouncements, his inflated wealth, his hair, and his marital situations. There was a threatened lawsuit, resulting in a lot of back-and-forth legal letters between him and me. And we printed all of those. At one point we sent checks for $1.11 out to 58 of the “well-known” and “well-heeled” to see who would take the time to endorse and deposit the checks from a firm we called the National Refund Clearinghouse. The ones who deposited the $1.11 checks were sent 64-cent checks, and the ones who deposited those were sent checks for 13 cents. This being in the days before electronic deposits and such, the exercise took the better part of a year. At the end, only two 13-cent checks were signed– and we couldn’t believe our good fortune. One was signed by arms trader Adnan Khashoggi. The other was deposited by Donald Trump.
…It can reasonably be argued that the presidency of George W. Bush was an eight-year warm-up act for the final stage of a dumbed-down America: a Trump presidency. You can draw a relatively straight line from the Florida recount of 2000, which took Bush into office, right through to the shambolic Trump campaign. The election of Bush led to the invasion of Iraq, which led to the de-stabilization in the Middle East (Libya, Egypt, Syria), which led to the migrant crisis, which led to European nationalism, Brexit, and, at the tail end of all these disasters, Trump.
He has touched– embraced!– every third rail in American politics. He has offended (and I apologize if I’ve left some group out): African-Americans, Native Americans, Mexicans, Jews, Muslims, war heroes– war heroes!– families of war heroes, the disabled, women, and babies. Babies! Through word or action, Trump has promoted gun violence, bigotry, ignorance, intolerance, lying, and just about everything else that can be wrong with a society. And yet he marches on, playing to a constituency that just doesn’t seem to care. The thing is, this ramshackle campaign, following a ramshackle business career, has exposed his flaws and failures to the world and, more importantly, to the people he will brush up against for the rest of his life. To them he is now officially a joke. I suspect he knows this. And if his thin skin on minor matters is any indication, he will be lashing out with even more vitriol. He is a mad jumble of a man, with a slapdash of a campaign and talking points dredged from the dark corners at the bottom of the Internet. I don’t think he will get to the White House, but just the fact that his carny act has gotten so far along the road will leave the path with a permanent orange stain. Trump, more than even the most craven politicians or entertainers, is a bottomless reservoir of need and desire for attention. He lives off crowd approval. And at a certain point that will dim, as it always does to people like him, and the cameras will turn to some other American novelty. When that attention wanes, he will be left with his press clippings, his dyed hair, his fake tan, and those tiny, tiny fingers.
Buzzfeed politics reporter McKay Coppins was asking for sympathy for his Beltway version of reluctant Trump-enabler Paul Ryan… with nary a word about poor Miss McConnell– less handsome to McKay's eyes apparently.
In the four months since he formally endorsed his party’s nominee for president, Ryan– the esteemed speaker of the House, the sterling guardian of conservatism, the intellectual leader of the Republican Party– has been reduced to a miserable Trump flunky sheepishly counting down the hours until the election is over. Each day he spends tethered to the Donald seems to bring some fresh humiliation; each role he inhabits in the entourage proves more undignified than the last. Adviser, apologist, hype man, scold– none brings redemption, or even reprieve. And so he trudges on toward November, a stench of sadness clinging to him as he goes.
Friends and allies, disappointed though many of them are, have tried to show Ryan support in this difficult time. They labor to give him the benefit of the doubt, to rationalize his endorsement– and when they’re defending his honor on the record, they might even find themselves slipping into messianic metaphors.
“I feel so sorry for Paul,” said Bob Woodson, the veteran civil rights activist who mentors Ryan on issues of poverty and race. “He wishes someone else could take the cup from him. … I’d say ‘weary martyr’ is a good way to describe him.”
“I think he endorsed Trump because he tries to see the best in people, and he hoped that his endorsement would be a down payment on a new and improved Trump,” said Katie Packer, a friend of Ryan’s who served as Mitt Romney’s deputy campaign manager in 2012.
“Unfortunately,” she added, Ryan’s policy agenda “has been hijacked by Donald Trump,” and “I think there will be some who find it hard to forgive his support” of the nominee.
Sources close to Ryan said he endorsed Trump in June in hopes of gaining access to the candidate’s inner-circle and steering him away from his more destructive behavior. Ryan also believed he could convince Trump to infuse his platform with more orthodox conservative policy.
Of course, neither initiative has been particularly successful– and along the way, Ryan has put himself in the deeply degrading position of having to respond to every outrage Trump committed on the campaign trail.
…There are yet more questions to answer, more outbursts to disavow, more humiliations to endure. And if it seems like Ryan gets badgered about Trump’s every utterance with more frequency– and determination– than other high-profile Republicans do, there’s a reason.
For years, Ryan has cultivated a reputation on both sides of the aisle as a paragon of decency, earnestness, and principle; that rare creature of DC who seems genuinely guided by good faith. To many in Washington– including no small number of reporters– Ryan’s support for Trump is not merely a political miscalculation, but a craven betrayal.
As one senior GOP Hill staffer put it, “Your heroes always let you down.”
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis