That is what Donald Trump is flogging in the current U.S. election cycle. It’s really all he appears to have, and it is far from a sure-fire sales pitch.
In fact, the iconic American writer Norman Mailer once said that no one can become president of the United States by vilifying America. Trump is out to prove him wrong — as he has already done to many of his detractors on other unorthodoxies.
In Trump’s America, everything is rigged, everything is ass-backwards, the leadership are losers, and everybody but The Donald is guilty of something — the people who ran against him for the Republican nomination; the GOP leadership; the “Mexican” judge born in Illinois who didn’t see things his way in the lawsuit involving Trump University; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and all the idiots who crafted those “horrible” free trade deals that made Trump rich and which he now promises to kill. This will be done, apparently, by some political equivalent of immaculate conception.
But The Donald’s prime target is the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. You know, ‘Crooked Hillary’, the former Secretary of State who allegedly kept state secrets on a private email server and handed out favours to foreign entities that sent big cheques to the Clinton Foundation.
The way Trump tells it, Hillary is a kind of entrepreneurial Benedict Arnold, personally raking in millions along with her famous husband under the guise of philanthropy. Trump insists that she shouldn’t be running for president: she should be making muffins in the same cell once used by Martha Stewart to refine her skills of insider-baking.
Given that Hillary is his bullseye, it is strange that The Donald has been so ably assisted in his character assassination by his target’s own husband — the charismatic and often calamitous Bill Clinton.
Former President Clinton’s latest boner was to “accidentally” meet with the Attorney General of the United States, Loretta Lynch, at the same time as the U.S. Justice Department is investigating his wife and her staff for potentially criminal acts while Secretary of State and, oh yes, running for President.
(Lest Canadians are tempted to feel superior in the face of Clinton’s stupefying lack of judgement at the Phoenix Airport, remember the case of Premier Richard Hatfield, now deceased. He actually met with Canada’s Attorney General of the day, Elmer MacKay, while the premier was under RCMP investigation for marijuana found in his luggage during a royal visit to New Brunswick. That meeting took place three full weeks before the premier, who wanted the investigation hurried up, was charged. Worse, MacKay and Hatfield admitted that they talked about the case! The Mulroney government refused to call an inquiry into the matter and MacKay kept his job. As for Hatfield, he was later acquitted with a unique defence — it was indeed his bag, but not his pot. Ah, politics.)
Both Clinton and Attorney General Lynch deny that their inadvertent talk on the airport tarmac was about Hillary’s investigation, just golf and grandkids. It hardly matters. Trump fully realizes that this grossly cozy meeting is political gold regardless of whether the DOJ and FBI decide to charge Hillary. It looks too much like the Fat Cats covering each other’s fannies. And at a time when voters’ faith in politicians and public institutions is waning, playing the corruption card could reap benefits for Trump.
By contrast, a searching debate on the issues could sink his ship before it sails.
That could be why Trump is also taking aim with such spleen and splash at potential Clinton running mate Elizabeth Warren. He has zeroed in on what he claims are her false claims of a Native American heritage when she was trying to make the roster at Harvard University. “Pocahontas”, according to Trump’s racist pejorative, is a faker and liar just like her potential running mate.
One of his introducers recently reinforced Trump’s message by offering an Indian war whoop when referencing Warren. But Trump’s chosen war path, non-stop traducing of his rivals on matters of personal character, is not without its snares, traps, and potentially deadly ambushes.
For starters, the deepest form of corruption for someone seeking the presidency is to propose measures that violate the constitution. By that measure, Trump himself is dangerously corrupt. It is against the U.S. Constitution to discriminate against people on the basis of their religion. Trump has proposed that in one form or another many times over.
In a country with First Amendment protections, it is unconstitutional to ban the press from covering a public event. In black-balling the Washington Post, the Guardian, and Buzzfeed from some of his events, Trump has done just that.
It is illegal under the U.S. Constitution (as well as domestic and international law), to practice torture. Trump has endorsed water-boarding and promised “worse”, despite the fact that any such presidential order issued to either military or intelligence personnel would be illegal.
And then there is the question of corruption swirling around two of the most prominent potential running mates for Trump — former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Christie has more baggage than a caravan of overloaded camels. First there was Bridgegate, that incredible act of political vengeance that saw Christie’s office touch off a massive traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge in 2013 just to get even with a political rival who refused to throw his political support to the governor. Three Christie staffers, Bill Baroni, Bridget Anne Kelly, and David Wildstein were indicted for this caper.
Although Christie himself was never charged, and manfully blamed the whole thing on rogue staffers, U.S. National Public Radio is now reporting that investigators never saw Chris Christie’s personal email account that he used during the bridge shutdown in 2013. Nor did they have access to a cellphone he used to contact the man who controlled the George Washington Bridge, the Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, David Samson.
Faced with the new allegations, Christie’s office has done something worse than Clintonian. It has refused to release the emails from the week of the infamous, politically-orchestrated bridge shutdown that gridlocked the town of Fort Lee. More than that, his office argued that the emails should should be kept secret. How, one wonders, does Donald Trump then ask his supporters to send cash to help him indict Hillary over her emails?
And that’s not all. It was recently revealed that the Christie administration had moved hundreds of millions of dollars from the public pension system to Wall Street firms, some of whose executives contributed to GOP groups affiliated with Christie campaigns.
Instead of explaining to the pension fund’s trustees why he has moved $1.5 billion in public pension funds to Wall Street hedge funds and private equity firms since becoming governor, Christie vetoed an anti-corruption bill designed to protect New Jersey’s pension fund from undue political influence.
This is the same governor who is accused of using Hurricane Sandy relief money for political purposes. And now his administration is allegedly being investigated by the Security and Exchange Commission for the potential misuse of $1.8 billion in Port Authority tax-exempt bond financing for bridges and roadways on the New Jersey side.
Which brings me to Newt Gingrich. True, he was once Speaker of the House of Representatives. But that career ended when the House Ethics Committee hit him with a $300,000 fine for the use of nonprofits for partisan political gains. The Ethics Committee arrived at their action after looking into 84 ethics complaints against the former Speaker.
Some of the other highlights on Newt’s resumé include being on the wrong side of the House banking scandal, and criticizing mortgage lender Freddie Mac while quietly collecting $1.6 million as a consultant to it. He is also the sensitive husband who insisted on discussing the terms of his divorce from his first wife, Jackie, while she was in bed recovering from her third cancer surgery.
The Clinton’s may be slipperier than an electric eel navigating an oil slick. but Team Trump makes Hillary Clinton look like Mother Theresa.
Author: Michael Harris