Saturday, August 13, 2016

Rant — Our Own House of Cards

When a presidential candidate makes a veiled suggestion that gun advocates might use their passion to eliminate the opposition, you might have greater drama in the real world than the darkly humorous piece of fiction about the Presidency, ‘House of Cards.”  Some of what happens in the Netflix series seemed preposterous. No more. It is reality that is unbelievable.

Narcissist In Chief (Donald J. Trump)
One could believe a conniving politician and his equally avaricious wife team up to gain the most powerful positions in the world. We’ve had time to adjust to it in a kind of parallel reality filled with all sorts of drama – accusations of illicit affairs, claims of murder, potential violations of national security, illegal quid quo pro deals and actual impeachment. While TV’s “Madame Secretary” shines a golden light on the Hillary Clinton type, “House of Cards” seems to have been inspired by the shadowy side of Bill and Hillary.

Though trending upward, Former Secretary of State, Senator and First Lady Hillary Clinton is regarded unfavorably by more people than almost any other presidential candidate in history.  ALMOST, I repeat.  Even less liked and trending downward is the pretend billionaire, foil hatted conspiracy theorist, fake patriot, race baiting, incredibly uninformed and unhinged Donald Jong Trump.  His antics have set up a scenario more bizarre than Doctor Stangelove. He is a misogynist with videotapes to prove it. He makes fun of the disabled. He has a history of bad business practices and failed casinos, though he runs by peddling his success as a businessman, and refuses— unlike every modern presidential candidate before him — to make his income taxes public. Why? Will they reveal his real income?  How little taxes he pays? Will they show that his very public promises to charity have gone unfulfilled?  Trump is currently on trial for fraud and racketeering for operating a bogus university.  He promises to bring jobs home though nearly every product with the Trump brand is outsourced. He is anti-immigrant, though he employs them en masse at his various golf resorts and spas. 

He has picked as his running mate a failed governor of Indiana who believes the earth is little more than 6,000 years old and that human activity is not affecting climate despite overwhelming scientific proof to the contrary. This at a time NASA is sending back photographs of Jupiter? How could this not make an uproarious satirical comedy much more interesting than “House of Cards?”

This does not mean Donald Trump is without savvy. Even a ten-year-old can be cunning. Trump has the knack for self-promotion. Like the jokester in the back of the classroom or the bully on the playground, he has discovered the art of disruption. “Pay attention to me!”  But if you do, you realize he has nothing to say. As people tire of his tantrums, Trump has had to escalate his threats through calculated, carefully worded statements. About Hillary, he said:

Frank J. Underwood (Kevin Spacey)
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

The meaning is clear to anyone who has half a brain. Through ambiguity, he has deniability. He was only encouraging them to come out and vote, he said. Trump has one more protective layer. If he’s caught, as he was here, he claims the “liberal media is after him.  The bully is the victim.  He whines.  The system, through which he purportedly became rich and certainly famous, is rigged against him. 

The only constant is that it’s all about him. However, in the end, he has no substance anyway. Even his words are empty.  He rarely uses words let alone sentences that have substance. They are exclamations. Everything is incredible, fantastic, unbelievable, amazing. Especially him. True. An “amazing “number of “ditto heads” (remember them) follow him, some with their confederate flags and some with their pointy hats.

Unfortunately for Trump, the very people who were drawn to him because “he tells it like it is,” haven’t been told anything useful. They simply worship a man who worships himself.

Yet the world quakes, awaiting his spontaneous threats and insults. Leaders from major countries —many our long-term allies — cringe, not because they fear his strength as a leader (or negotiator), but because they fear his stupidity in a nuclear age. He is our Kim Jong Un, a thin-skinned egomaniac who inherited his position in life, and who now masquerades as savior.

We haven’t had such a threat to global stability since Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini.  The thing is: we truly don’t know whether to laugh or cry. He is a truly dangerous clown.  Who could make the movie of a man who once was the playboy of the western world and became someone who could actually destroy it? Mel Brooks?  The Coen Brothers?  John Waters? David Lynch?

“Certainly House of Cards,’ clever and seductive as it is, collapses as cutting edge political theater in the face of the surreal nature of the 2016 U.S. election. Yes, yes, and with irony, Hillary represents the establishment, the “good old boy” network. Not my first choice, or second, but we’re down to two. The former secretary of state is intelligent, experienced in world affairs and most important, not a nutcase.

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