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Hullabaloo


Thursday, November 10, 2016

 

Bullshitter-in-Chief

by Tom Sullivan

Until a week ago, this saying was familiar to Chicago Cubs fans: "They wouldn't be the Cubs if they didn't break our hearts." Then the lovable losers won the World Series. Early Wednesday morning, not-so-lovable Donald Trump won the presidency. Propelled by a nation discontented with all the losing he told them they'd experienced at the hands of suspicious foreigners and political sharks, Trump now has to deliver all that winning he promised supporters they would get sick and tired of. Charlie Pierce wonders how long it will take him to break his supporters' hearts:

He will break their hearts, sooner or later. He likely will not build a big, beautiful wall for which Mexico pays. He will sign a budget that makes their lives harder. Their nephew with cerebral palsy will lose his Medicaid funding, or a fracking company will ruin their water or cause the ground under their homes to shake, or their father will get called up and die in some attempt to "destroy" ISIS, or someone in their family will call the local pharmacy and discover that a pre-existing condition makes a considerable difference again.

How will they react, all those people who made up just enough of a margin in just enough states to put Donald Trump in the Oval Office? Will they actually blame him, or will they realize at some level that to blame him is to blame themselves? History indicates that they will offload that anger and dread onto the usual targets. But, this time, they might not. And woe betide the president who is president when that finally happens.
As Mr. Spock once observed, after a time "having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting." Kansans, including Republicans, have found that to be true of Gov. Sam Brownback's magic bean theory about tax exemptions for business owners producing economic unicorns. Jobs have disappeared and budget holes are chronic. Democrats Tuesday picked up seats in both houses of the state legislature. “There’s very likely to be an anti-Brownback majority in the Legislature,” according to Bob Beatty, a political scientist as Washburn University. Now Donald Trump has to make good on even more grandiose promises.

Owing in part to the media chasing yet another Clinton faux scandal, Paul Waldman writes, "Donald Trump, the most unqualified, ignorant, authoritarian, impulsive, reckless candidate in history is going to be president of the United States in part because, and let me repeat this, Hillary Clinton used the wrong email address." Trump certainly possesses those many flaws, but perhaps his worst is something else.

An aphorism I live by is that the most important thing you need to know in life is what you don't know. A medical degree does not make you a brain surgeon. An engineering degree does not make you a rocket scientist. Business success does not make you a statesman. Trump's greatest flaw is not knowing when he doesn't know something. The man with no international affairs experience blusters that he knows more about defeating terrorism than his soon-to-be generals. The man who never served in the military bullshitted his way through a debate question about the nuclear triad he will soon control. The man who ascended to the presidency on attacks against Hillary Clinton's email habits may not even know how to use a personal computer, and bullshits his way through questions about "the cyber." Trump being Trump, he will try to bullshit his way through passing legislation and through who-knows-what national or international crisis that presents itself.

Popular disgust with the status quo propelled Trump to the presidency as a Republican. It arose because after decades of being played for dupes by their leaders, the GOP base finally caught on that they were being bullshitted. Finally, people rebelled. Also against Democrats more interested in business interests than voters'. What made Trump their champion was how he out-bullshitted the bullshitters. Somehow, in spite of his sketchy personal history, this made him seem more honest and trustworthy. We will see how far Trump's talent for bullshitting gets him with supporters once he breaks their hearts.