By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders
With Halloween just around the corner beware of persons dressing up and pretending to be serious candidates for President! What they are peddling as a treat is really a trick.
Every time something really dumb comes out of the mouth of Donald J. Trump I think that the voters in the Republican Party will have finally had enough of his bombast and childish remarks… but no. They seem to eat it up in some weird way. When the Donald led the effort to delegitimize President Obama, insinuating that he was not a natural born citizen, he was playing to his partisan crowd.
But when he proclaimed that Senator John McCain was no war hero for just being captured by the enemy, (and I might add tortured for five years), and then parlayed that remark by saying… “I like my war heroes who are not captured… ok,” I figured that he was doomed politically. Not so.
I was not surprised that when he condemned Mexicans and most other persons seeking refuge as criminals who undermine our society, he did not lose support. Nor when he said that he would hunt down and deport millions of illegal immigrants and build a two thousand mile wall around our southern border with a “beautiful big door.”
When he denied that the 14th amendment to the United States Constitution says what it says: that citizenship is conferred on all person born in the United States, I thought that was pretty ignorant but a bit too legally complicated to arouse much opposition from his Party faithful.
When he insulted a woman journalist by suggesting that her tough questions were the result of her biology or by calling another female candidate for President physically unpleasing, I figured that might cost him some support, but Republicans are a very forgiving bunch.
However, when he challenged one of the Republican icons, former President George W. Bush, as someone who had failed as President to prevent the attacks on the World Trade Center and that he, Donald Trump, might have thwarted that dastardly event, I figured, now this must be his Waterloo… so far not so much.
I am no fan of the 43rd President of the United States. I think that he manufactured a crisis in Iraq for the express purpose of deposing Saddam Hussein and his regime without any regard or understanding of the consequences of that misguided war. The ensuing instability did not result in democracy as he and his neo-con advisors predicted, but rather it created a power vacuum that gave rise to the murderous group known as ISIS.
But as a New Yorker present in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001 and having personally witnessed the attack and destruction of the World Trade Center at close range with the deaths of nearly 3,000 persons, I find Donald Trump’s careless remarks about the blame for that tragedy to be grotesque and perhaps the most egregious example of his irresponsibility and unfitness for office… of any kind. To ascribe any blame to then President Bush for the terrorist attack that day would be akin to blaming Franklin Roosevelt for the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, or to blame President Clinton for the domestic terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City in 1993 which destroyed a government building, claiming the lives of over 100 citizens. Why not blame the sitting Governor of Connecticut for the shooting massacre of 20 toddlers in Newtown in 2012?
The point is that a person running for the highest office in the country ought to be a serious individual who says and speaks about issues in a thoughtful manner. More frighteningly if Mr. Trump actually believes what he says then this is a person truly out of touch with reality and as such dangerous.
More likely Donald Trump has honed the skills that gets him the attention that he craves. He understands that the media and a narrow swath of voters love to hear provocative speech. It sells newspapers and gets TV ratings and it appeals to angry Americans in search of scapegoats to blame our problems on.
History is littered with such demagogues, in this country and abroad. But occasionally the people embrace such individuals and place them in positions of power, to tragic results. Halloween lasts only for one day. Picking the wrong leader can have lasting effects.