Friday, July 29, 2016

Madness I Ends; Madness II begins

One sort of madness has ended (not a moment too soon!) but another, possibly worse,  sort begins.

In Amerika we call this the political party conventions, followed by the presidential election campaign.  The framers of the Geneva conventions would probably have called it torture of civilians. Nevertheless, it’s the Merkin way.

Everyone knows the presidential candidates are the two most disliked individuals ever to pursue the highest office in the land.  Everyone is trying to get to know the vice presidential candidates, who were introduced to us during the period of madness that ended last night.

Tim Kaine seems like a friendly enough Joe and, as he demonstrated the other night, he does a pretty good impression of Ernest Borgnine. Having “Marty” as vice president isn’t the worst thing that could happen.  Rather than risk his inadvertently pissing off some important ally, we could send him down to the corner drugstore every day to watch girls go by. Mike Pence is a born-again Christian who hates queers and Planned Parenthood. His attorney general said that the young people (including my granddaughter) protesting for civil treatment of civil servants in Wisconsin should have been thrown in  jail.  Pence thought that would be too lenient.  I invited both of them to come to my front door and say these things to me.  Of course the friggin’ cowards didn’t show up. Pence is a gap-filler for his running mate:  everyone Trump doesn't want you to fear and hate, Pence wants you to fear and hate. Both would-be veeps have sons in the Marine Corps. Both were lower level office holders before becoming governors.

Just about everyone seems to agree that the Democrats put on the better TV show.  They have all the good public speakers.  (Some might say that Donald Trump is very entertaining when he tries to be a public speaker, but others say that good Christian mothers listening in would want to wash his mouth out with soap.) Whether poetically or prosaically, the Democratic orators took credit for every good thing that has happened anywhere in the world in the last eight years, exposed the bad things that need to be corrected and offered ringing, plausible ways to make them right.  The problem is, as Barack Obama has proved over and over,  that these tintinabulations of truth never translate into noble deeds.  At Democratic conventions the rafters ring with the sound of music, but afterward the promise of affordable health care for all, for example,  gets lost in discordant deals with the pharmaceutical profiteers, the greedy insurers and the Republican congressmen who yell “Boo!”  So when Hillary Clinton, who when I was a kid would have been considered a  Republican, made her Democratic promises while accepting her party’s nomination for the presidency last night, we who have been around the block a few times took them with many grains of salt.

Speaker after speaker, including a four-star Marine ex-general, assured us that we wouldn’t want the nuclear codes in the hands of a reckless fool like Donald Trump.  But do we want them in the hands of a ruthless regime-changer whose closest advisors like Victoria Nuland can’t stand the sight of no blood?

She told us she has been on the side of working people all her life.  But she gets a quarter of a million dollars to give a speech to Wall Street banksters and won’t let us read the text.  Does she want us to think she stood before those greedy bastards and read Chugga Chugga Choo Choo?

The Democrats did not try to hide the facts about bad things that have been happening even with a Democratic president.  Black mothers of slain sons and families of police officers killed in the line of duty were trotted out on the stage in Philadelphia to acknowledge one of the worst festering sores in our national conscience.  “Love Trumps Hate,” they told us.

Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, told us the week before, in Cleveland, that being born rich and becoming even richer makes him the best qualified candidate to be president.  He also made other loud noises that resembled speech.  Recognizable words tumbled out of his moth, and the mouths of his endorsers, but few of them came together as coherent sentences.  Once such sentence, repeated ad nauseam, was, “Only I can . ."   whatever.

Trump calls himself a great deal-maker and a great businessman but refuses to release his tax returns -- an established tradition for those who would be our president. 

David Cay Johnson, a superb journalist with whose work I am personally well acquainted, has spent the last 30 years researching and reporting on the career of Mr. Trump.  His new book, The Making of Donald Trump,  will be available Aug. 2.  Trump’s “Only I . . .” won’t resonate once that book is out.

By that time, the campaigns will be at full steam.  As speaker after speaker implored last night in Philadelphia, god save us.

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