When a Crackpot Runs for President

When Donald Trump first announced his candidacy for US President last year, he was immediately met with a tidal wave of scorn and derision. His was a joke candidacy, we were told, intended merely as a publicity stunt, and he would soon withdraw from the race.

Watching from the other side of the pond, I was already well aware of Donald Trump as a self-publicising US property developer who wrote his own name on more or less everything he built, much like the famed Kilroy who carved “Kilroy Was Here” wherever he travelled. At the time I wasn’t aware that he was also a celebrity in America as one of the judges on The Apprentice TV show, much like the tycoon Alan Sugar in the UK’s equivalent show.

It’s been some 15 months since Donald Trump announced his candidacy, and the scorn and derision has never let up for a single day: he is the single most abused man in America.

Yet another example of this appeared yesterday in the New York Times under the banner: “When a Crackpot Runs for President” – a nice example of a genre in which the insults start in the title.

I took a while to read the opinion piece carefully:

There are crackpots who believe that the earth is flat, and they don’t deserve to be quoted without explaining that this is an, er, outlying view, and the same goes for a crackpot who has argued that climate change is a Chinese-made hoax, who has called for barring Muslims and who has said that he will build a border wall and that Mexico will pay for it.

We owe it to our readers to signal when we’re writing about a crackpot. Even if he’s a presidential candidate. No, especially when he’s a presidential candidate.

So the evidence that Trump is a crackpot derives firstly from his denial of the reality of global warming/climate change, secondly from his wish to bar Muslims from entry into the USA, and thirdly from his promise to build a southern border wall to keep out illegal immigrants.

I must confess that I see no evidence of crackpottery in any of those, even if some of them don’t seem very practical.

The modern doctrine of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is a novelty which has only gained traction in the past 25 years. It has now become something of a religious cult, despite there having been no warming for the past 18 years, and plenty of evidence (Climategate) of mendacity on the part of its high priests. In my view, the real crackpots are the credulous true believers in AGW, not the sceptics or “deniers”.

In respect of Muslims, it is quite obviously the case that a great many of the mass murders of the past few years – Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan, Nice, etc – have been carried out by Muslim zealots, and something urgently needs to be done to restrict their access to the Western world. Once again, the real crackpots are those who advocate doing nothing.

And in respect of illegal immigrants (some of whom will be murderous Muslim zealots), a nation state simply ceases to exist if it fails to defend its borders against intruders. This is true not only of the USA but every state in Europe (and indeed the world). There was a time in the 1980s when it looked like I might be asked to do some work in the USA, but back then one had to apply for a visa, which I did, and was granted a 10-year entry permit printed in my UK passport. I didn’t think it was impertinent of the US authorities to do this: on the contrary, it seemed like simple common sense for them to vet prospective visitors before allowing them into their country. They would have been crackpots had they not.

So, far from demonstrating that Donald Trump was a crackpot, his various positions rather suggested that he was anything but a crackpot, and was in fact a man of simple common sense.

The article continues:

The latest dust-up has been health care. Neither candidate has been very open about health, but Clinton has produced much more detailed medical records than Trump, and an actuarial firm told The Washington Post Fact Checker that Clinton has a 5.9 percent chance of dying by the end of a second term in office, while Trump would have a 8.4 percent chance.

Since Donald Trump is a year older than Hillary Clinton, and women tend to live longer than men, it’s probably true that Trump has a greater chance of dying in office than Hillary Clinton. But that’s not what the health scare has been about. The concern has been about Hillary Clinton’s propensity to fall over in recent years – something that has resulted in a broken arm and multiple cerebral haemorrhages -, and was demonstrated last Sunday when she collapsed outside a 9/11 memorial event. There are serious concerns about Hillary Clinton’s health in ways that there are not about Donald Trump’s.

The article concludes with a final fusillade of insults:

For my part, I’ve never met a national politician as ill informed, as deceptive, as evasive and as vacuous as Trump. He’s not normal.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump actually is ill-informed on a great many affairs. He’s a property developer, after all. But I doubt he will remain ill-informed for very long once he takes office. And what politician isn’t deceptive, evasive, and vacuous? It’s almost part of the job description these days.

But perhaps with the final shot – “He’s not normal” – the author at last scored a direct hit. Because Trump isn’t normal. He’s a maverick, an outsider, a man apart. From the moment he stepped into the race, he stood apart from all the 16 other rather boring Republican candidates. Probably because he’s not been a politician, he hasn’t come over as a normal politician. His speeches aren’t like theirs. The language he uses isn’t like theirs. He has a different campaign strategy, appealing directly to people via town hall speeches or online tweets, rather than through slick and expensive TV commercials. Donald Trump doesn’t do normal politics.

But I rather suspect that many Americans are as sick of normal politicians as many of us are in the UK (and much of Europe). And that’s why Trump has attracted a considerable following. Normal politicians have let us down badly. And if normal politics leads nowhere, then the time has come for abnormal politics. So Trump’s non-normality is another asset, and not a liability.

And I can’t help but think that his endurance in the face of the almost daily frenzied attacks on him (like the one above) in the mainstream media has done a great deal to demonstrate to all concerned an admirable steadfastness and resoluteness in the man, that I for one never saw in him before. He’s been being crucified for 15 months, and will probably carry on being crucified, but he carries his cross lightly.

I have plenty of my own reservations about him. I’m a bit worried that a man who doesn’t smoke or drink (not even coffee!) may turn out to be yet another puritan busybody like Michael Bloomberg or Bill Gates. I also wonder – since he’s a very rich man – that he’s likely to prove to be just another oligarch (he knew both Bill and Hillary Clinton before he ran for office, and contributed to their campaigns) in a suffocating US oligarchy.

Unlike many people, what I’m not worried about is whether he’ll start lots of new wars. That’s what normal politicians do, more or less as a required rite of passage. I think a blunt-speaking Trump presidency would probably shake up international politics and ruffle lots of feathers, but that will be a welcome breath of fresh air in the sterile corridors of power. His probably won’t be a normal US presidency, bringing the normal succession of futile and destructive wars – and that will be a relief. And as a man from the construction business, his might even be a highly constructive presidency, that will leave his name emblazoned forever on his new 40-storey Trump Wing of the White House, and will maybe do so perfectly deservedly.

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About Frank Davis

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25 Responses to When a Crackpot Runs for President

  1. I really don’t ‘get’ all the fuss and outrage around Trump (who seems a fairly odious individual I admit). Socialist German friends of mine reacted to my indifference to his possibly becoming POTUS with the same horror they expressed when I admitted using my body weight in bleach annually to clean our toilet.
    People seem to forget that while the President of the US is the ‘most powerful man on Earth’ , he can’t necessarily get things done. Obama, healthcare anyone?
    In the UK and Europe, in general, leaders present and run on a manifesto, a manifesto the electorate holds them to-more or less. We expect them to fulfill their promises (‘more fool us’ i hear you cry?). In the US it is expected that Presidential candidates will promise whatever they think will get them elected, whether it is feasible or even desirable.
    If Trump thought it would get him a few points more in the polls he’d promise to build a wall down the middle of the Atlantic and paint it Roy Rogers motifs or nuke Backwardstan every other Tuesday.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I don’t see him as being particularly odious. I’ve heard stories about him (I’m thinking of one in which someone refused to sell him some land for a golf course, and he retaliated by planting trees all around it) which suggest that he pushes very hard to get his way. He doesn’t back down. I’m not sure that makes him ‘odious’ though.

  2. cherie79 says:

    I remember them saying much the same things about Reagan when he ran, my Democrat friends said of course no intelligent person would vote for him and turned out to be a pretty good President. I hope Trump wins if only to see the sheer horror of the so called ‘elites’ ! At least with him there are some chance things might change with Hillary we know what we will get and it isn’t pretty. I would rather take a chance with Trump than have a greedy congenital liar with all the Clinton baggage any day. Must agree that most of what he says is just common sense, career politicians seem to have lost that if they ever had it.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Yes, there were the same vapours when Reagan was elected.

      A B-movie actor! How terrible!

      • nisakiman says:

        I think Reagan was great. He was a fountain of bons mots, some of which are classics.

        “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”

        “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

        “It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.”

        “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

        “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

        “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!”

        “Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources.”

  3. garyk30 says:

    There is nothing strange about wanting a wall along our Southern border.

    We have been building massive fences/walls there for years.

  4. beobrigitte says:

    The article concludes with a final fusillade of insults:

    For my part, I’ve never met a national politician as ill informed, as deceptive, as evasive and as vacuous as Trump. He’s not normal.

    The author failed to add his personal definition of normal.

    Trump is a business man and therefore knows how to efficiently advertise. (Most successful business men know that, too). Trump also had a good start in his life. True, since most people don’t have the same Trump had, this part could be defined as abnormal. In that case most of us would prefer abnormal.
    I, personally, have no problem with Trump’s personality. However, he does not appear to have a clear plan for his presidency, so we all don’t have a clue if he is yet another rich tobacco control sock puppet, such as Bill Gates.

    Since Donald Trump is a year older than Hillary Clinton, and women tend to live longer than men, …
    This may well change in a very short time. Nowadays women are expected to hold down 3 full-time jobs. Their job that pays them, child rearing (which involves amongst many other things also the support of their offspring for their future best chances) and the bulk of the household chores.
    In the 1980s the burnout syndrome was something that happened to nurses due to the ever changing shift and th dealing with situations most people don’t deal with on a regular basis. Now the burnout syndrome (very costly to any state, btw) affects working mothers the most. The problem is, nowadays no family with young children can afford to live on one wage only.

    I am glad that I’m the age I am. I had only 5 years of constant stress and then got to where I wanted to be (unfortunately that’s not normal, either!) and get off that rat race while there was time to do so.

    That does remind me to ask tobacco control a question or two. I bet I’ll have to wait another 40 years for them to answer.
    How come that after 4 weeks in a gym I have to put in so much more effort to get out of breath?
    How come when increasing the difficulty and time on the cardio it takes really pushing myself to get my (sort of registered) heartbeat above 120 even though I think I should feel it by then?
    How come that I have managed to increase muscle mass to an extent that allows me lift objects I used to lift at the age of 30?
    WHERE does my smoking fit in with that?

    Perhaps we all need to compile a list of questions to be answered by the lobby that, uninvited, controls us.

    As for Hilary, she’s overdone the rat race.

    • Some French bloke says:

      “Perhaps we all need to compile a list of questions to be answered by the lobby that, uninvited, controls us”.

      Some good questions to put to them would be: how come the LC death rates for younger men in the UK started to decrease in the late fifties (that is, well before smoking rates started to decline), and were divided by 5.3 between 1959 and 2013, while they began to surge for their French counterparts, starting from 1970, and doubled during the following three decades? How different have their respective smoking histories – the so insistenly publicized explanation to the problem – been?

      P.S. Those IARC graphs usually tend to disappear after four weeks or so, perhaps Frank can find a way to convert and ‘perennize’ them, so that belated visitors can still view them?

      • Frank Davis says:

        Perennized! :)

        (by saving the image in WordPress)

      • garyk30 says:

        1. 75% of lc’s occur after the age of 65, why did they stop at age 54?
        2. Rate is given as per 100,000.
        The chart uses 0 to 45 instead of 0 to 100,000.
        Both lines are actually flat on the 0 to 100,000 scale.

        This chart is crap!

        • garyk30 says:

          Since 100,000 is 2,222 time bigger than 45, the numbers on that chart should be 2,222 times smaller and would be hard to tell from the baseline.

        • prog says:

          I occasionally (to my cost usually!) place v modest spread bets on IG Index. Charts are usually presented to reflect short term moves, which look very dramatic in isolation, whereas the longer term overall fluctuations are often very slight – what appears to a major daily price move is generally a very small one and barely noticeable when viewed over a period of days, weeks or longer.

        • beobrigitte says:

          why did they stop at age 54?

          Indeed a good question. There is nothing we have to combat INDIVIDUAL’S aging processes. Some people age quicker than others.
          And it is nothing unusual for a smoker to reach the age of 90+ (prominent example Helmut Schmidt, former German Bundeskanzler who frequently annoyed the anti-smokers by requesting an ashtray when invited for interviews with TV stations long after he retired) and others even 100+
          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/7941676/Britains-oldest-smoker-dies-after-puffing-on-cigarettes-for-95-years.html
          Smoking kills?

          We all have questions. It’s time we get TRUE answers.

  5. Tony says:

    I agree there is a parallel with Ronald Reagan. I vaguely remember various 1980 BBC interviews where the interviewee apologised for being American on the basis that someone as awful as Reagan could be a presidential candidate. Although as it happens, I was never a fan, particularly with his frankly murderous escalation of the so called ‘war on drugs’. I am always puzzled at the way many libertarians seem to hold him in such high regard. Nevertheless I certainly take the point that he was probably no worse than many others.

    I’d suggest that one difference between Reagan and Trump is that Reagan seemed to be a ‘front man’ and that the ‘organ grinder’ or ‘power behind the throne’ was George Bush senior (ex-head of the CIA). Whereas Trump appears to be his own man.

    There again, my understanding of American politics is very limited.

    • waltc says:

      I think you’re wrong about Reagan, IIRC, he didn’t much like Bush Sr. Maybe you’re confusing this with Bush Jr and his veep, Dick Cheney? Dunno if that’s true either but it was widely rumored

      • Tony says:

        I’m not sure where I got that from unless it was the Doonsbury cartoons where Bush snr was always shown as invisible. Perhaps I inferred from that that he was the invisible hand behind the throne. Maybe I did get it wrong.

  6. Lepercolonist says:

    The most constructive function of the New York Times is at the bottom of my bird cage.

  7. Lecroix says:

    Reblogged this on Contra la ley "antitabaco" and commented:
    Crítica de la razón pura.

  8. Jim says:

    The Left hate Trump because he stands for the large proportion of the population who don’t agree with the Left, but who have been sidelined by the Left’s march through the institutions for the last 50 years. The Left have lost the economic argument (capitalism provides better ‘stuff’ than communism) but they have universally won the cultural argument, such that most governments are culturally leftist now, due to the nature of the people who are in politics, and the nature of the people who run the State apparatus. The large proportion of the electorate who are culturally opposed to all this (mass immigration, meddling in people’s lives, infringements of privacy and liberty, high taxation, identity politics) are ignored and rarely if ever given a voice. Brexit gave them a voice in the UK, and we see the squeals from the usual suspects. Trump is giving those unspoken for a voice in the US and the Left don’t like it – they see 50 years of slow accumulation of power being threatened, and they are doing everything to destroy him.

    Mark my words, if Trump wins there will be violence from the Left, because thats the position they have got themselves into – they have painted themselves as ‘the good guys’ and Trump as the Devil, so what could be more sensible than for the good guys to fight evil?

    • waltc says:

      What gets me is things like–I think it’s–the NFL (national football league) boycotting North Carolina because of the state law against transexuals using the other (biological) sex’s bathroom. Hard to imagine linebackers holding that position, yet it seems PC has drifted further down the slope that I’d’ve thought….

      • Jim says:

        Neither the NFL players nor most of its spectators would agree with transsexuals right to use the bathroom of their choice, yet the NFL itself aligns itself against both. Why? Because if they didn’t the Left would threaten the NFL with ‘demonstrations’, which a code word for violence. Its how the minority (the Left) cow the majority, by threatening violence and disruption of their right to ignore the Left and their political ideas. Any one organisation or even individual that steps out of line is so threatened, and as most people want an easy life, to be left alone to get on with their lives, the Left usual win. The ballot box is pretty much the last place that the silent majority can make their feelings felt safely, which is why the anti-Trump rhetoric has been raised so high – they’ve got to try and scare the average Joe/Josephine enough to prevent them doing what they probably want to do, which is vote for anyone but a continuation of the status quo.

        Its probably why more men are going to vote Trump than women – women tend to seek consensus, and if someone is painted as ‘extreme’ will tend to shun them, whereas men are more likely to make their own minds up on the facts in front of them, and indeed trying to push them in one direct often results in a desire to go 180 degrees the other way.

  9. Clicky says:

  10. Mimi says:

    When the article stated he’s not “normal”, it was obviously referring to Donald Trumps personality disorder described in the DSM V as Narcissistic PD. That PD includes Sociopathy. No amount of spin can change his abnormal behavior into something acceptable such as a maverick or outsider. The mad is clearly “mad”!

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