Trump and other populists suffer from a bad case of Putin envy

0 Permalink

Call it Putin envy. Whatever their differences, the one thing the new wave of right-wing populist politicians now emerging from the fringes of the Western democracies have in common—from America’s Donald Trump to France’s Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen, from Italy’s Beppe Grillo to Austria’s Norbert Hofer and Hungary’s Viktor Orban—is admiration for Russia’s autocratic strongman Vladimir Putin. You’d probably have to go back to the heyday of the Comintern to find an eastern leader who enjoyed the sort of regard with which Putin is held by leading figures of the democracies’ populist right. In fact, the Slavic caudillo has managed ...

Religious leaders’ electoral rush to Trump is a self-interested betrayal of trust

“Ecclesiastical establishments” James Madison wrote to his friend William Bradford Jr. in 1774, “tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects.” If ever there was proof of Madison’s preternatural wisdom it was the role of organized religion in Donald Trump’s recent electoral victory. In fact, for those of us who take faith and politics seriously, the conduct of America’s major religious voting blocs—Catholics and evangelical Protestants—and, particularly their leaders is further evidence of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy that ought to disqualify them from further influence over the minds of reasonable Americans. Such people, even ...

With Trump, the worse is yet to come

0 Permalink

In the dark days that are undoubtedly before us, many may come to look back on this election as Albert Camus did the Spanish Civil War. “Men of my generation have had Spain in our hearts,” Camus wrote. “It was there that they learned … that one can be right and yet be beaten.” Make no mistake, though, there is worse to come. Consider President-elect Donald Trump’s conduct since Election Day and that, for his first round of senior appointments, he has  skimmed the scum from the fetid pond of the Republican Party’s extreme right. Over the past week, the putative leader ...

Will Trump and his followers really accept the results of this election?

0 Permalink

Understandably, questions about Donald Trump’s tax status have dominated recent campaign coverage, but as a result, what may have been the most extraordinary moment in the first presidential debate has gone all but unremarked upon. At the end of Hillary Clinton’s confrontation with the failed casino operator turned pseudo-populist demagogue, moderator Lester Holt asked the candidates a question that would have been unimaginable in any previous presidential debate: Would the candidates accept the results of the election, whichever way it goes? Clinton, of course, immediately said she would. Then Holt put the same question to Trump: “Will you accept the outcome ...

Donald Trump channels Gordon Gekko at first debate against Hillary Clinton

0 Permalink

Gordon Gekko for President! There can be no other campaign slogan for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump coming out of Monday’s first presidential debate with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. In his most unscripted and unguarded moments, the failed casino operator uncannily evoked no one as much as the slick-haired, reptilian corporate raider played by Michael Douglas in Oliver Stone’s 1987 “Wall Street”, the film that so masterfully captured the essence of an era of unfettered avarice in the financial markets. Who can forget Gekko’s signature pronouncement: “Greed is good.” Certainly, none of the 100 million-plus Americans who listened carefully to Trump during this ...

Regarding Trump’s new pro-life stance: Catholics recognize a con man when they see one

0 , Permalink

By now, I think we all know that Donald Trump would hock his kids’ kidneys to win this election. I’m probably being over fastidious, then, to note that I find his most recent attempt to exploit the painfully wrenching issue of abortion particularly offensive. I use the adjective wrenching, I suppose, because I’m a Catholic who personally opposes most therapeutic pregnancy terminations, but still supports the woman’s right to choose. I do so, in part, because the question of abortion’s morality hinges on a question to which we currently have no convincing scientific answer: At what point does life begin? Given our ...

Jimmy Kimmel and Donald Trump on the Same Constitutional Page

0 Permalink

Emmys host Jimmy Kimmel had a lot of fun Sunday night ridiculing Donald Trump in front of an overwhelmingly Democratic Hollywood crowd. The truth is, though, that the talk show personality and the Republicans’ Mad Hatter of a presidential nominee are united in their contempt for one of the Constitution’s most important safeguards of our individual liberty. That protection is the Bill of Rights’ Sixth Amendment, which guarantees every American accused of a crime the services of a defense lawyer: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of ...

Surveys Show the Trump Campaign’s Real Fuel is Old-Fashioned Racial Resentment

0 , Permalink

If you’re someone who thinks and writes about politics, as I have for more than four decades, this election cycle has been—by turns—perplexing, humbling and terrifying. More than once over the past months, I’ve found myself watching the primary returns and wondering whether I really know this country or its people anymore? Virtually no serious analyst foresaw the sequence of improbable events and subterranean eddies of popular sentiment that now have put Donald Trump within reach of the White House. It sometimes seems nowadays that the this vulgar bully may be just one more Hillary Clinton scandal from the Oval Office—and God ...