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n2doc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 12:41 PM
Original message
by Hendrik Hertzberg

The Presidential candidacy as joke is a perennial sideshow along the raucous midway of the American political carnival. Sometimes the candidateWill Rogers (1928), Gracie Allen (1940), Pat Paulsen (1968 through 1996), Stephen Colbert (2008)is a fully qualified professional humorist. Sometimes he, or it, is an animal, barnyard (Pigasus, the Yippie mascot, 1968) or cartoon (Pogo, the comic-strip possum, 1952). Sometimeslike Lar Daly, the Chicago eccentric who, in 1956 and three times thereafter, campaigned in an Uncle Sam suithe appears to be in on the joke. Sometimes he doesnt. The first two or three times that Harold Stassen, a talented progressive who at age thirty-one had been elected governor of Minnesota, sought the Republican nomination, his candidacy was taken seriously, and rightly so. By the fifth or sixth time, he was a punch line. By the ninthin 1992, when he was eighty-fivethe poignancy of it all muted the laughter.

The joke candidate of the present moment partakes of many of the qualities of those who have gone before, but the precursor he most strikingly resembles, perhaps, is the late Bishop Homer A. Tomlinson. Like Bishop Tomlinson, the 1952, 1960, 1964, and 1968 Presidential nominee of the Theocratic Party, Donald Trump is a repeat aspirant, having previously proclaimed his readiness to occupy the nations highest office in 1988 and 2000. Tomlinson lived in a little frame house in Queens; Trump grew up in a big house (some two dozen rooms, twenty-foot Georgian columns on the portico) in the same borough of New York. Like Trump, Tomlinson had a business background: before joining the pastorate, he was C.E.O. of his own advertising agency. Like the Bishop, the Donald is a person of faith. Tomlinson was top man in a spinoff of the Church of God, part of the Pentecostal movement. Trump is a Christian, too. I think that the Bible certainly isit is the book, Trump told an interviewer for the Christian Broadcasting Network recently. Im a Presbyterian. And you know, Ive had a good relationship with the church over the years. But the decisive similarity is a level of megalomania unusual even in people who consider themselves entitled to supreme power. Between elections, Bishop Tomlinson travelled the world with a portable throne, crowning himself, among other things, King of Belgium, King of Ethiopia, Tsar of Russia, and, finally, King of the World. Trump thinks no less highly of himself.

Tomlinsons delusions were harmless, and not widely shared. Not so Trumps. In the weeks since his proto-campaign began, Trump has talked of many things. Of energy policy, for example: We need to seize Iraqs oil fields. Of China: Our enemies. Of abortion rights: Im pro-life. (He used to be pro-choice, but, as one of his top aides noted the other day, people change their positions all the time, the way they change their wives.) Of health policy: I will fight to end Obamacare. (He used to be for a universal single-payer system, but that was then.) Of taxes: Its part of my speech. No new taxes. The main thing he has talked of, though, is President Obamas birthplace. The President was born on August 4, 1961, at the Kapiolani Medical Center, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Trump, however, believesor says he believesthat it might have happened elsewhere. Africa, maybe.

The Donald Trump birther tour took wing on March 17th, via an interview with ABCs Ashleigh Banfield, taped aboard his private Boeing 727. The reason I have a little doubt, just a little, is because he grew up and nobody knew him, Trump said. The whole thing is very strange. You mock me, he told Joe Scarborough, of MSNBC, on April 1st, adding, wildly, but his own grandmother says he was born in Kenya and says she was there. By April 7th, a little doubt on ABC had become a big possibility on NBC. After two more weeks of this sort of thing, Trump published an op-ed piece in the April 20th USA Today. Sadly, he wrotefive sentences after demanding that Obama provide his birth certificate for forensic reviewthe press has en masse chosen to glom onto but one of the myriad issues I have discussed and would tackle as President. . . . I have spoken my piece on this issue. Time to move on? Uh, no. The next morning, on CNN, Trump boasted, as he had before, that his own private investigators are on the case, and that at a certain point in time he will be revealing some interesting things. The interviewer, Ali Velshi, urged him to admit that Obama was in fact born where he was born. Its possible that he was, but theres a big question as to whether or not he was, Trump replied. When I started, two months ago, I thought he was. Every day that goes by, I think less and less that he was born in the United States.

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n2doc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 04:56 PM
Response to Original message
1. kick n/t
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Raine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 05:21 PM
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2. THANKS so much for posting this
it's really interesting! :thumbsup:
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spanone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 05:28 PM
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3. k&r..
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Wounded Bear Donating Member (665 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 05:33 PM
Response to Original message
4. Cue the tobacco debate, or Global Warming....
Preach up the amount of "debate" on the issue, even if that is fully paid for professional deniers. Argue that there really is an argument, even-especially-when there isn't.
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