Mr. ‘Lunch Pail Guys’ Is A Force To be Reckoned With

Donald J. Trump
Donald J. Trump

I met him once, while I was exploring, with my then-wife, the public-side sanctum of Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. The Tower’s namesake was prowling, observing, taking in the crowds and their reactions to what was then – shortly after Trump Tower opened – a marvel to behold. As it still is.

“The Donald”, as he then was generally referred to (but not by us, who opted for ‘Mr. Trump’), was both approachable and amenable to interactions with people he perceived, largely justifiably, as his ‘fans’. Fans, that is, of the business accomplishments that, in those days, were his sole focus.

It was a ‘hi, how are ya? Good to see ya’ event that, in its way, made a point the recent Rolling Stone portrait of this presidential candidate did: He’s a ‘man of the people’ because, despite his wealth, much of it inherited, ” He was raised around lunch-pail guys in Queens and learned to talk like them trailing his father to building sites,” the article says. “He shares the syntax and sympathies of meat-and-potatoes types, and has crafted his message for their ears expressly, calling out the enemies on their list In New Hampshire,” reporter Paul Sorotaroff writes.

“I watched that huge crowd come to a boil as he took dead aim at corporate greed. ‘When the head of Ford calls me up and he says, ‘Mr. President, we really want to build this plant in Mexico,’ I’ll say, ‘Congratulations . . . we’re gonna charge you a 35 percent tax on every car and truck and part that comes in!’ ‘But you can’t dooo that, Mr. President!’ ‘Trust me, I can do it — and what happens is, they probably fold by 5 p.m.'”

There’s one small problem with that scenario: The president doesn’t have the authority raise (or lower) taxes. Congress does, exclusively.

But entities of the U.S. government, in both the legislative and executive branches, have a long, colorful history of modifying, adjusting and outright ignoring legal niceties as befits their needs or purposes.

Thus we get the likes of government shutdowns, women dying on combat missions they are specifically banned from participating in, people being held indefinitely — without being charged with anything — in a probably-illegal prison in Cuba — and something oddly called extraordinary rendition — the secret moving of individuals suspected of terrorism or, among other things, war crimes, to a jurisdiction where it is permission to interrogate said suspects in ways totally against U.S. constitutional law.

Few if any are better at manipulating rules and standard operating procedures to their own ends than is Mr. Trump. And as has been amply demonstrated since he declared himself a Republican presidential candidate in June, he’s pretty good, too, at making claims and promises as — and even more — outrageous than political candidates, in general, are famous for.

The differences between some of his claims and those of some of the 21 (count ’em, twenty-one) others seeking to put their seat behind an Oval Office desk include the facts that:

[1] A good deal of what he says bears little if any resemblance to the truth (“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best … They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people,” Trump said on June 16, and The Hill debunked that comment a month later — as others did before and since;

[2] He is less concerned with realistic presentations of what he might do — if he could — as president — than with appealing to the base emotions of people with fears that are unrealistic (a Hampton NH resident said to him, speaking of undocumented [nee ‘illegal’] immigrants, “They’re everywhere, and they’re sucking our economy dry,”  and/or downright stupid: Another quote from The New Yorker article, from a man who thinks Trump reflects “an unconscious vision that white people have — that there grandchildren might be a hated minority in their own country; I think that scares us,” and

[3] Even as he declares he won’t do so, he seems to delight in insulting women — note his “blood coming out of her . . . whatever” attack on first Republication moderator Megyn Kelly of CNN, and his more quoted-in-Rolling-Stone remark(s) (as quoted by USA Today: about fellow candidate Carly Fiorina, ‘Look at that face!’ he cries. ‘Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?’

It’s early days, for sure, but the Guinness drinkers (in their home country, Ireland) are betting — but, one has to wonder, why?? –) Jeb Bush (whose mother, of all people, declared earlier this year that “we’ve had enough Bushes in the White House”) will eventually trim Trump’s lead then overtake him, to become the Republican’s eventual nominee for president.

Talk about a Hobson’s Choice — which is, simply, you take the one choice (in this case, either of two not-very-good options) or none at all, meaning that, no matter which way the Republicans choose, where their ‘not-as-concerned-as-s/he-should be candidate options are concerned, they are likely to miss the brass ring — tossing the election to . . . who? Hillary Clinton, who, you can count on it, hasn’t seen the last of the email server or other (possibly not yet known) ills her campaign will suffer, or Bernie Sanders, or . . . ?

Sanders is at the opposite end of an exceptionally broad spectrum from Trump in at least two significant ways:

[1] He speaks, with vast political experience in his wake, what is widely regarded as truth, truth that is facts-based and issues-oriented, and

[2] as Trump is, at the other end of the spectrum, not dependent on fund-raising because he’s independently wealthy.

Sanders, as he’s proud to tell you, avoids big corporate or interest-oriented donors.

Trump claimed that, as of early in September, 2015, he’s spent very little “aside from for some jet fuel” on his campaign. Sanders has spent a good deal more than that, but only from what’s been donated by able-to-give-only-a-little individuals.

Trump gets massive media coverage because of who he is and, sometimes, because of the fact he’s attracting sizable crowds and, probably as important, that they represent a spectrum of people — some of them, it might be imagined, simply curious to see a celebrity who’s spent a lot of time on TV in the past decade.

Sanders, meanwhile, seems to be moving toward filling stadiums with people who believe, when all is said and done, some of the same things Trump preaches: The big money people grab too much of it, and we need to take it away from them; trade agreements that allow companies to export jobs are bad, and need to be legislated against.

Then there’s Iran: Sanders supports the internationally sought-for deal that would prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb; Trump’s position, as declared on CBS News, “they have suckered us” into a deal we’ll regret.

That from a man who has many made people regret dealing with him, as he’s declared bankruptcy four times even as he protected enough of his ‘stuff’ to rise again, like a phoenix, to be able to again brag how ‘successful’ he’s been as a titan of big business.

And, amazing many, how strongly he seems to feel he’s qualified to be president.

He’s not.

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