Friday, September 02, 2016

Trumpy's Little Potato

It's September now so we have just over a month left of not knowing whether Donald Trump will be president. Hillary Clinton leads pretty consistently in the polls though by a narrower margin than seems reasonable given how many stupid and mean things one constantly hears about Trump doing. Trump often complains about the media being against him and, really, he's right. Though if corporate interests are in any way at fault, as he claims, their role must be minimal at this point compared with Trump himself picking fights with the likes of Fox News and Joe Scarborough, the people who ought to be the best ally of the Republican candidate. From the left, though, the anti-Trump output seems as much heartfelt as it is political.

Maybe it's my age, maybe it's their age, but Stephen Colbert and, in his scattered appearances, Jon Stewart, don't seem to have the clear cutting satire they had in the days of Bush. Maybe it's the sense of time rapidly running out and the greater sense of the media's responsibility in halting Trump within a certain time frame. During the Bush years, Stewart and Colbert were the exasperated outliers among a mostly complacent media, now they're part of the establishment and I get the feeling that with great power has come the sneaking feeling of powerlessness. No matter what anyone in the media, left or right, says or does, Trump always seems to be within ten points of Hillary Clinton. Imagine if the media did nothing. Or maybe that wouldn't matter?

Trump is often compared to a bully and he certainly is. Next to him, the media often seems like the victim of a bully, the good kid who runs to the teacher and says, "Look what Donny did!" expecting justice, not able to believe the teacher doesn't give a shit.

The above clips shown on Colbert are from a much longer Trump speech on immigration, you can see the full thing here. One thing the clips don't convey is the feeling of listening to Trump relentlessly reiterate the idea of zero tolerance for undocumented immigrants. His rhetoric goes past "illegal immigrants" and even Lou Dobbs' "illegal aliens"--Trump's preferred term is "criminal alien," belying his brief, usual tossing out of "I'm sure many of them are good people." He says that once before screaming over and over, "Millions of criminal aliens". Trump cites specific examples of rapes and murders perpetrated by undocumented immigrants, decries the lax enforcement methods that are supposedly responsible, and says nothing about stricter gun regulations despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of crimes committed with firearms in the U.S. are committed by American citizens.

I'm sure I've known several undocumented immigrants. I met one last year who actually mentioned she was undocumented. She works with special needs children here in San Diego and she's going to school. She was one of the nicest and most practical people I've met in the past few years. When Trump says Mexico is going to pay for his "great wall" (deliberately invoking China?), he implies it's in Mexico's interest as well. Why? He says that the workers coming in from Mexico are "lower skilled workers with less education, who compete directly against vulnerable American workers." How are American workers vulnerable to the less skilled and educated? Of course this is because the people who've lived in worse conditions in Mexico are more willing to accept lower wages and harder jobs than American workers. Of course, this has all been said many times and should be obvious but Trump keeps saying the same things as though it's not.

The most interesting part of the speech to me, though, was his use of the word "bully", referring to the immigration laws he says are lacking:

"We’re like the big bully that keeps getting beat up. You ever see that? The big bully that keeps getting beat up."

He's proud of being a bully. He walks loudly and carries a little stick. Okay, sorry, that was cheap.

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