Friday, March 11, 2016

Who does Donald Trump...

...remind you of? Ross Perot? Pat Buchanan? Richard Nixon? George Wallace? Joe McCarthy? Huey Long?

I've read all of those comparisons.

I used to think Trump reminded me of Ronald Reagan. Last July I wrote:

Just like Reagan, the Donald's world is very simple and all of America's problems are easy to solve -- if only our government's "stupid" leaders would just get out of the way.

In that Q & A session in New Hampshire, Trump even begins by -- can you believe it? -- slamming Jimmy Carter! I've noticed that, like Reagan, Trump tells the same stories over and over and over, citing figures he either "read somewhere" or using "facts" he appears to have just made up on the fly. A tough talker (Republicans love swagger), Trump singles out China, Mexico and Japan for some reason (did they bar him from opening a hotel in Tokyo or something?) as our current international scapegoats instead of Reagan's bogeyman, the Soviet Union, and on occasion, some random South American "tinhorn dictator."

Also, like Reagan, the famous real estate mogul talks about the "old days" when our country was "strong and respected." (Republicans love the word "strong.") He appeals to his audience's basest fears and emotions by making vague promises to be "bold" (another big Republican word; just ask Scott Walker), knocks moderates like Mitt Romney, pledges to grow the economy (of course), slash regulations, negotiate from strength (there's that word "strong" again), defeat ISIS by bombing the hell out of their oil (as if no one in the State or Defense Departments had thought of that), build a wall along our southern border (and have Mexico pay for it somehow) and, naturally, have a "total commitment to the Second Amendment."

Trump, again like Reagan, sat out his generation's war but is "very big" on defense and veterans and promises to spend even more on defense (even though the U. S. already spends more than the next ten countries combined).

Finally, like the Gipper, Trump will just plain Make America Great Again. 

But after watching Trump these last few months I've decided Reagan isn't the right comparison. Not only is the Donald so much cruder and coarser than the 40th president, but he also doesn't bother with "dog whistles"; he just spews out his bigotry.

Also, while Reagan may have been an "amiable dunce," he was not a jackass. Trump, without putting too fine a point on it, is a buffoon.

Why is it so important who the Donald reminds you of? Well, I'm going to a Trump rally tonight at UIC and wasn't sure whose picture to put at the top of this post.

How about Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister of Italy? Is he a good analog for Mr. Trump?

Alexander Stille thinks so:

Some of the resemblances are obvious as well as uncanny. Both are billionaires who made their initial fortunes in real estate, whose wealth and playboy lifestyles turned them into celebrities. Both have had ugly divorces and brag of their sexual prowess. Trump notably defended his manhood at the debate last week, while Berlusconi once said, “Life is a matter of perspective: Think of all the women in the world who want to sleep with me but don’t know it.” (This was before Berlusconi began holding “bunga bunga” parties with prostitutes.) They are masters of media manipulation, Berlusconi as Italy’s largest private television owner, Trump as the star of his own reality TV show and creator of the Trump “brand.” Entering politics, both have styled themselves as the ultimate anti-politician — as the super-successful entrepreneur running against gray “professional politicians” who have never met a payroll and are ruining their respective countries.

Not so fast, says Kevin A. Lees:

The similarities between Trump and Berlusconi -- their 'say it like it is' populism, their willingness to engage demagoguery, their wealth, their vulgarity, their ability to tap into the emotions (both positive and negative) of their supporters -- are manifest.

But there are important differences.

I'll let you read both pieces and make up your own mind.

So why am I going to see Trump tonight? Well, first of all, it's only a short walk from my house. But, more important, it will be historic. I didn't get to see any of the other figures at the top of this post. And while I still doubt very much that Mr. Trump will ever be president of the United States (I just have too much faith in my fellow Americans), I have to see the Donald while I have the chance and he's at the height of his popularity.

My only question is, should I wear my "Ready for Hillary" t-shirt or not?

P. S. I'll be live-tweeting the event @BoringOldWhtGuy.

1 comment:

James said...

Dont forget your riot gear!