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Souls and Fairy Tales

December 20, 2015

“These are times that try men’s souls.”

“The Cunning of the Fox is as Murderous as the Violence of the Wolf”

– Thomas Paine, from The American Crisis

Just when you thought that things couldn’t get any stranger, Donald Trump’s uncomfortably exaggerated role in current world affairs hit a new chord this week. Trump told us in November that he knows Putin “very well,” because they were “stablemates” on the CBS TV show, 60 Minutes. When pressed about days after that debate, Trump conceded that they had not met. In fact, they weren’t even in the same room together. By the magic of modern technology, CBS interviewed and filmed each of them in different rooms, at different times and on different continents. But those were inconvenient details to Trump when he was beating his chest about his imagined foreign policy advantage for the televised debate.

Trump wants us to think that he is uniquely qualified to neutralize Putin with his charm and the only candidate smart enough and tough enough to earn Putin’s respect. This is indisputable in his fevered mind. Trump admires Putin’s image as a strong leader, a person who knows how to get things done. I have no idea what type of boss Trump is with his employees, but no matter how top-down the corporate culture with his companies, I don’t think it could be any more autocratic and less egalitarian than things over at the Kremlin. This is a place described by U.S. diplomats as “a corrupt, autocratic kleptocracy centered on the leadership of Vladimir Putin, in which officials, oligarchs and organised crime are bound together to create a “virtual mafia state.”

kremlin

The Kremlin (The photo is from Wikipedia.)

For some odd reason, Trump likes Putin. He was swept off his feet by remarks Putin made about him to an ABC reporter this past Thursday. Putin, who holds his office under a cloud of allegations that the Russian 2012 elections were fixed to ensure his win, told the ABC reporter that it is not Russia’s place to comment on Trump’s worthiness to be president. And if it that had been the end of it, perhaps Trump would have chosen some other topic for another of his frequent outrageous statements. But of course it didn’t end there. You see, Putin went on to say that Trump is “…a very colorful person. Talented, without a doubt…”

Trump was giddy when asked about this the next day by MSNBC. He said that “when people call you brilliant, that’s always good. Especially when the person heads up Russia.” When asked about Putin’s record of killing journalists that he didn’t like, Trump shrugged it off with another compliment for Putin, “He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country…” This infatuation that Trump has with Putin is unsettling and just bizarre.

For a man who constantly says that he doesn’t care about the polls, Trump sure does talk a lot about them when he’s in the lead. His self-esteem seems to rise with every next poll that confirms his popularity with potential voters. Likewise, he invokes the low poll numbers for other candidates when he derides them as weak losers. Jeb Bush seems to be his favorite target. He even referenced the polls when he was on the MSNBC TV show. This time, it was to disgrace our president and acclaim his new affection, Putin.  As evidence that Putin should be respected and Barack Obama should be disdained, Trump spoke admirably about Putin’s high popularity ratings in Russian polls to Obama’s low ratings here in the U.S.

Potential voters have kept Trump at the top of the polls since the middle of July. The polls don’t count and we’re still more than ten months away from election day. Still, this has gone on longer than most expected last summer. Support for Trump has been steady through one disturbing statement after the other. I don’t expect that his fascination with Putin will change anything. It’s just not the type of issue that will shake his supporters’ confidence in him.

white house

The White House (The photo is from Wikipedia.)

For sure, most of these people can’t even be swayed by facts. Take for example a recent poll which found that more than 40% of Trump’s supporters agree that the U.S. should bomb the country of Agrabah. You’re not familiar with this place? It’s a fictional country from Alladin, an 18th century Middle Eastern folk tale. There have been many adaptations of Alladin. Perhaps the most popular versions are from Disney. Donald Duck was featured in a 1962 story book. In the 1990’s, Disney put it into an animated film. Our military’s strength and skill is unmatched, but I don’t know how even these true believers can expect their commander-in-chief to order a strike against a make believe place.

Trump’s supporters seem to think that he can solve things by pure force of personality and celebrity status. They believe that he’s our best choice for president and that Russia is just one other meeting their candidate will have to slip into his very busy schedule. His behavior and comments the past few days may even embolden them. That’s how vexing this election has become. But working with Putin and the Russians is not just another big real estate transaction and there’s more at stake than a fancy building.

The election is more than just another photo opportunity or Twitter cycle. And let’s not mistake it for a fairy tale. We are living in troubled times and are flirting with danger when we let Trump create our country’s narrative.

*********

“I will answer the question. I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul…”
– President George W. Bush in 2001, when asked by a reporter if we can trust Russia

*******

“I’m hot-blooded.”
– Vladimir Putin to George W. Bush in 2008

“No Vladimir, you’re cold-blooded.”
George W. Bush in response

*******

“Mr. President, I looked into President Putin’s eyes and I saw the KGB.”
– Secretary of State, Colin Powell to George W. Bush

*******

“I had looked into Putin’s eyes and saw a stone cold killer.”
– Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

*******

“Mr. Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.”
– Vice President Joe Biden to Vladimir Putin

“We understand one another.”
– Vladimir Putin’s response to Joe Biden

*********

The Donald Duck image is from Wikipedia using Google search for images “free to use or share.”

 

 

28 Comments
  1. You know, I think we should declare war against Agrabah. Unilaterally. Bomb the hell out of the place. That is, I think, the only way we can simply kill pretend people instead of real ones. The GOP will be happy, the Military-Industrial Complex will get their $$$$$ and nobody gets hurt (well, except the taxpayers). It’s a win-win.

    Like

  2. “We are living in troubled times and are flirting with danger when we let Trump create our country’s narrative.”
    ~ I totally agree with you, Bruce.

    When Reality TV becomes True Life for a disgruntled and boisterous minority, we are courting disaster.

    Like

  3. Putin is a superb manipulator and no problem with as Mussolini said “Carry a big dagger and use it when you have to.” Stalin would admire Putin. Trump thinks foreign policy is a mere matter of business talk.

    Like

  4. Reblogged this on Tombers’s Blog and commented:
    Great post on this election!

    Like

  5. Really great post, Bruce! Well thought out and well written! Mat

    Like

    • Kind words, Mat. Your middle name. I made an unconscious and unspoken commitment to myself not to write about Donald Trump. This past week moved me over the line. It’s such an odd and disturbing situation. I wasn’t old enough to understand George Wallace or Barry Goldwater. I think Goldwater might have paled and perhaps is not a good comparison. Such different times and the Cold War is not what we’re going through now. Maybe Wallace is a closer analogy. Social media and celebrity worship are only two factors which even makes that comparison week and useless.

      Like

  6. kdk permalink

    The whole situation defies rational or thoughtful explanation — and is scary. But the idea of taking on Agrabah helps to put this candidacy in perspective: Trump for President of Fantasyland.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The country of Agrabah is very friendly to my knowledge. Maybe they’ll take him 🙂 Great post, Bruce.

    Like

  8. Trump is horrifying. What’s even scarier is that so many like him. Where did we go wrong?

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    • Where did we go wrong? Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation. We took our eyes off the ball.

      I agree with you that the most troubling aspect about Trump is the significant number of zealous and enthusiastic followers.

      Like

  9. For whatever reason, I got the feeling that I’m one of the few people who don’t worry about his popularity. Putin and Trump – hmmmm … and who has the bigger ego. Cheers to your holiday!

    Like

    • Well, I like your sanguine view about the prospects of Trump’s impact. I crossed the line when summer ended.

      Did I miss your State of the Reds commentary? Still in process, perhaps?

      Like

      • Oh no … I must have missed led you … no state of the Reds post … that’s easily summed up in one word … Sorry!

        Meanwhile, don’t worry about Trump. I don’t think the country is that stupid.

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  10. Bruce, how are we to not lose hope when so many think Trump is an appropriate candidate for President. I just posted about it earlier this morning (on FB).
    I’ll look to finding sanity here, with you, throughout the coming year.
    In the meantime, best wishes for happiness and health in the coming year.

    Like

    • Hi Laurie,

      “President Washington, President Roosevelt, President Jefferson, President Trump.” What’s wrong with this list?

      If someone answers that only one of them could “make America Great,” they’ll have to get to their local library.

      Strange days, indeed.

      Happy New Year to you. Let me try again. Happy New Year to you!

      Like

  11. The Trump thing still has me baffled, but I honestly need to get over it, and fast. At first I found it completely amusing and had no worries at all about this crazy caricature of himself running for President. Because… went my argument… in no time he will say something absolutely out of line, and everyone will shake their heads to clear the cobwebs, and forget about him. As you point out, this cartoon character has made more incredible, out-of-line, offensive, and ignorant comments than I ever could have expected…and people still love him. What?! How on earth is this possible? Who are these Americans and how can this be my own country?

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  12. It will NOT be a ‘happy new year’ if this trumpet of a trump keeps on trumpeting lies, exaggerations, and excessive crap (as opposed to the normal amount of crap a politician gives out). I am in danger of losing hope for the American people. Please, please let that not happen.

    Like

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Give Peace A Chance – Bomb Agrabah | FiftyFourandAHalf
  2. Ram On 2015 – Part 2 | Ram On

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