Swimming with sharks: Breitbart in the tank for Trump

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Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I first met Donald Trump’s voters while the bully boy developer still was content to feed his grotesque ego on doses of reality television. Since then, of course, he has decided that failing as a casino operator is precisely the preparation you need to occupy the position we used to call leader of the free world. What we’ll call it if Trump actually gets the job is anybody’s guess—but, right now, Il Duce seems like a good bet. I began to discern the outlines of what’s come to be Trump’s base while writing a ...

Trump playing with an element more dangerous than fire

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Watching the escalating ugliness and violence surrounding Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, I’m sure I’m not the only one recalling George Wallace and the chaotic 1972 national election. That year, it was the Democrats who were fractured and in disarray after the party favorite—Ted Kennedy—declined to enter the race against the incumbent Richard Nixon, then at the height of his popularity. Wallace, an arch-segregationist while serving as governor of Alabama, charged into the field, melding a rancorous populism with a strident anti-busing message in a package that resonated with the disenchanted white working-class voters, who later became known as “Reagan Democrats.” Sound familiar? By ...

Election 2016: Is this the season of the angry white male?

On Monday, two of American Catholicism’s most prominent conservative  intellectuals—George Wiegel, John Paul II’s biographer, and Princeton law professor Robert P. George—posted an open letter on National Review Online urging Catholics not to vote for Donald Trump. Their appeal, addressed to “our fellow Catholics and all men and women of good will,” was joined by almost 40 coreligionists affiliated with academic institutions and non-profits. These folks are among the fiercest of culture warriors and for years have been trying to use the controversies over reproductive rights and marriage equality to pry Catholic voters out of the Democratic Party. They’ve promulgated the ...

Furor over NYT’s Trump tape is much ado about nothing

It’s absurd to single out any single event in this election cycle as odd, since the whole affair is so bizarrely weird that it feels like something you’d stumble into on the other side of the looking glass. So, for the sake of accuracy let’s just call the convoluted controversy over the tape of Donald Trump’s off-the-record conversation with the New York Times’ editorial board interesting. During this week’s Republican debate, you may have heard Trump refuse his opponents’ calls for him to release the recording. Here’s what’s at issue: Back in January, Trump went to The New York Times for one ...

Why don’t voters care that Trump is a bully?

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Last week, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told the journalists and lawmakers gathered for the Washington Press Club Foundation’s usually light-hearted annual congressional dinner that, “My party has gone batshit crazy.” Given that Graham lately has emerged as a kind of Republican Cassandra, it’s tempting to add a gloss on Homer’s famous line: Who the gods would destroy, they first afflict with Donald Trump. The madness of Trump, in fact, is one of this election cycle’s defining forces, and it has many faces. The most mysterious is why, state-by-state, a bit more than a third of the GOP electorate is willing ...

Media Must Scrutinize Donald Trump’s ‘Successful’ Career

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The culture of celebrity and the new media superstructure that supports it are a deceptive combination. They deal in the illusion of intimacy, trading on the fiction that they actually allow us to know the celebrities they create on a first-name basis—Angelina and Brad, Kim and Kanye and, perhaps most misleadingly, the Donald. Oddly enough, though he seems to have lived his whole life in the public eye, there is a great deal about Donald Trump that we don’t know with precision. Because he’s never spent a minute of his life in public service, what we do seem to know about ...

Pope Francis Brilliantly Dismisses Petulant Donald Trump

Hmm, let’s see here. . .Donald Trump, who appears poised to win his second Republican presidential primary, thinks Vladimir Putin is a “great leader,” admires the late Saddam Hussein for “killing terrorists” and is wowed by the “genius” and “toughness” of Kim Jong Ill, the mad dog oppressor of the North Korean people. On the other hand, the developer-turned-schlock TV character thinks Pope Francis I, defender of the poor and migrants, advocate of kindness and mercy, critic of wealth and privilege, is “disgraceful” and “a pawn” of corrupt political interests. What’s wrong with this picture? Everything, which also is what’s wrong with ...

Donald Trump’s New Punching Bag: Pope Francis

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Not content with spewing country club card room invective—“loser,” “jerk,” etc.—at other Republican presidential candidates, Donald Trump now has turned on Pope Francis I. The pontiff is currently on a pastoral visit to Mexico, where over the course of the next few days he will meet with indigenous people and business leaders, celebrate Mass at the shrine of the country’s patroness, Our Lady of Guadalupe, visit a prison and lunch with seminarians. His itinerary consciously mirrors the journey of Mexican and Central American migrants northward to the Rio Grande and will culminate in Ciudad Juarez, where the pope will celebrate a ...