“It’s Trump the Stump!”, graphite and pastel, 2015. By Kevin Lynch 1
Drum-roll please. Brassy bugle fanfare.
The conservative online news site World Net Daily, whose columnists include scourge-of-the-right-wing Ann Coulter and and ex-metal-rocker-pundit Ted Nugent, has declared Donald Trump “Man of the Year”!
Trump, who needs no introduction, has perservered till now against all Republican presidential candidates and beyond virtually everyone’s expectations of his seemingly Charmin-thick bloviation as a politician of substance, a potential statesman.
We all know he’s a master performer, for an adoring 35 per cent of the angry, mostly white-male Republican base. Their anger at stultifyingly obstructionist politics-as-usual, after the Great Recession, is understandable. Trump understands them too, like a snake oil salesman understands a vulnerable family whose house he’s slithered into and scoped out fully.
Far worse is most of the press fawning over “The Donald,” forced by the pressures of ever-changing e-media ratings and poll-numbers — virtually Trump’s whole game. In the most recent and self-important fawning, WND characterized his rise and 2015 man-of-the-year “triumph” thusly:
“At the start, Trump was savagely attacked by leftist activist groups and journalists after referring to some illegal immigrants as ‘rapists’ during his presidential announcement speech.
A couple of Trump’s business partners, notably NBC and Macy’s, cut ties with the candidate. It appeared Trump’s campaign was over before it even began.
But while most other politicians would have apologized, Trump responded with what has become his characteristic tactic – doubling down. Trump reframed the debate on immigration to focus on crimes committed by illegals. The arrest of a previously deported illegal immigrant for the murder of Kate Steinle in the sanctuary city of San Francisco gave Trump’s charges new weight.” 2`
And that seems the essence of Trump’s substance, and sleazy appeal to the lowest common denominator in the American psyche.
In a nation where everyone is constitutionally innocent until proven guilty, the arrest of a single previously-reported illegal immigrant and alleged murderer, is the new wobbly top-stone of his “gravitas,” the the WND editors judge. Time and again, Trump sows xenophobia, irrational fear and racism in the public consciousness, with Trumped-up rhetoric and demagoguery.
Yet, we now know that statistically twice as many Americans have been killed by domestic terrorist attacks by right-wing zealots than by jihadists since 9/11, according to the New America Foundation, a non-partisan think tank based in Washington and in New York.
According to TIME Magazine’s National Security blog site: “In their June study, the foundation decided to examine groups ‘engaged in violent extremist activity’ and found that white extremists were by far the most dangerous. They pointed to the recent Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston, S.C., and the 2012 attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, as well as many lesser-known attacks on Jewish institutions and on police. They found that 48 people were killed by white terrorists, while 26 were killed by radical Islamists, since Sept. 11.”
The study also found that the criminal justice system judged jihadists more harshly than their non-Muslim counterparts, indicting them more frequently than non-jihadists and handing down longer sentences.” 3
See a full breakdown of the numbers here.
Yet facts, and illustrative, rationally meaningful statistics — which Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders shows a surpassing command of — mean virtually nothing for Donald in Wonderland.
So he is it given credit for a certain intelligence, in manipulating the public and the press, but beyond that really, what is there? Where’s the policy meat, beyond the thick layers of baloney? These questions prompted the image that I created recently.
It is not a purely illustrative drawing, because I’ve spent my career as a print journalist although my background is as an artist. So — as Trump is mainly his rhetoric — it also incorporates quotes from him, and a couple of comments from the peanut gallery of Nature, which surely observes Trump with the great curiosity and perhaps to dread. He seems sanguine at best about global warming and the need to address it, like virtually all the Republican candidates. (Enlarge the image slightly to read the quotes better).
After the drum-roll and the bugle fanfare die down, what do we have? As Shakespeare wrote, in Macbeth:
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Perhaps “the walking (and talking and talking) shadow” behind Trump does signify, well, Trump, a blend of 19th-century carnival barker and confidence man, 20th-century billionaire skyscraper builder/fantasy show-and-beauty pageant producer, and quintessential 21st-century media narcissist, obsessively referring to himself in third person, with almost salacious admiration.
Trump’s no idiot. It’s just so often he talks and behaves like one, and almost nobody calls him on it directly. Otherwise, he’ll strike back with a low-as-he-can-reach savagery, which the WNT does not comment on.
One hopes that the vast fictional paranoia fantasy Trump is orchestrating does not end as tragically for America as Macbeth’s. Will he be heard no more, after his very distended and bloated hour upon the stage?
Upon these questions, I offer you this drawing titled “It’s Trump the Stump!”
1 The original Trump drawing is currently on display at The Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts, 932 E. Center St., Milwaukee. Thanks to Mark Lawson.