06 September 2016

Against My Better Judgment

Well, yes, I’m still reading the newspapers—mostly The New York Times, but I’ll check any one of them looking for news of the decline of Donald Trump in the polls in the race for President. I am reminded of a story of an elderly German man in 1944 who nervously approached a news stand and lifted up every newspaper displayed, looked at only the first page, put it down and raised the next. Finally, the owner of the newsstand asked the man, “What are you looking for?” and the man answered he was looking for the obituaries. “Oh,” the kiosk owner said, “the obituaries are not on the first page.” And the man answered, “The obituary I’m looking for will be there!” I’m not wishing any one an early death, but I am seeking a political decline of dramatic proportions. I am frankly appalled and frightened at the prospect of Donald Trump becoming President of the United States. I wonder how someone with absolutely no political experience, with not even a basic understanding of geography or diplomacy, with a temper and vocabulary unacceptable in a third grade classroom, presume to assume the leadership of a country which rightly or wrongly nevertheless remains the most powerful nation in the world. Underlying Trumps’s candidacy there rests an absurdity and a stupidity. Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay “Fate,’ offers some explanation. He says, “Most of our politics is physiological. Now and then a man of wealth in the heyday of youth adopts the tenet of broadest freedom. In England there is always some man of wealth and large connection, planting himself, during all his years of health, on the side of progress who, as soon as he begins to die, checks his forward play, calls in his troops and becomes conservative. All conservatives are such from personal defects. They have been effeminated by position or nature, born halt and blind, through luxury of their parents, and can only, like invalids, act on the defensive.” Trump derives from millions of dollars. John Stuart Mill has said “Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.” Not much in my lifetime has proven him wrong.
     I applaud Paul Krugman who refuses to defer to the news reports that question Clinton’s ethics. In his op-ed piece “Hillary Clinton Gets Gored” Krugman accuses the newspapers of reporting by innuendo rather than fact. This ‘gored’ refers I believe to the repulsive suggestion employed by the Bush campaign that John Kerry dishonestly reported his war experience in a story that became known as the ‘swift boat’ scandal. Krugman suggests that no evidence of a violation of ethics occurred during Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State and that the Clinton Foundation has, in fact, done good work in and for the world.

     Hillary Clinton is no saint, but no President of the United States (or politician for that matter) ever was so. On the other hand, Hillary is no dope, which cannot be said for her rival for the office.


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