Trumping American reason

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Many times over the past decades have we shaken our Canadian heads and clucked our Canadian tongues at the sight of the circus that is, so often, U.S. presidential politics.

There was former movie star-cum-California governor Ronald Reagan “horsing around” on talk radio about “bombing” Moscow in 1984.

There was George W. Bush stealing (literally) the presidency away from Al Gore in 2000.

There was Mitt Romney who effectively lost his bid for the White House after engaging in a peculiar bit of social calculus in 2012:

“There are 47 per cent of the people who will vote for the president (Barack Obama) no matter what. . .47 per cent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

But no one, and I mean no one, has come close to the audacity, vulgarity and caustic cynicism of Donald Trump, the billionaire real estate tycoon and former reality show producer and host, who, to the astonishment of many in the still flappable mainstream media, enjoys a public approval rating of 23 per cent in a field of 17 Republican candidates for president.

That may not sound impressive to our north-of-the-border ears, where our own candidates for prime ministerial vainglory are flirting with a three-way draw of about 30 per cent. But consider that, in the U.S., the next nearest in line to Mr. Trump for civic approbation on the right hand of the political ledger, Jeb Bush, enjoys a mere 12 or 13 per cent, followed in descending order by Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Chris Christie and the rest of the gang.

All of which may only prove that the steady doses of abuse, insult, and villainous misrepresentation that have defiled the American electoral system have finally become politics-as-usual – in other words, no big deal.

Apparently, it’s no big deal when Mr. Trump questions Senator John McCain’s war record. Neither is it any great cause for alarm when “The Donald” calls comedian Rosie O’Donnell a “big, fat pig” and a “slob”.

Indeed, according to Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, writing in ThinkProgress online “Trump has a long history of sexist comments. Soon after the first Republican presidential debate ended, Trump retweeted a comment deriding Kelly as a ‘bimbo’. . .In 1991, he told Esquire, ‘it doesn’t really matter what (the media) write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of (expletive).’

More food for thought, courtesy of Ms. Lee: “When a lawyer once asked for a medical break to pump breast milk for her daughter, Trump reportedly told her ‘you’re disgusting’ before walking out of the room. Trump said that the women on his reality show The Apprentice all flirted with him because ‘I believe we’re all equal except women still have to try harder and they know it. They will do what they have to do to get the job done and will not necessarily be demure about it.’”

Thank you for sharing. Still, this is the guy who once said, not too long ago, that political correctness is killing America. Perhaps this is why a goodly number of Americans appear ready to send him the White House next year.

We Canadians may occasionally deride the lack of decorum in our own campaigns for office.

Under the circumstances, though, Stephen Harper’s most recent attack ads seem downright adorable.

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