March 01, 2016

Three Times I Didn't Recognize My Country

Over the past couple decades, three events left me feeling like I didn't know my own country.

First, the election of Bill Clinton in '92 despite sexual predation and borderline criminal activity.

Second, the acquittal of OJ Simpson and subsequent cheering in the black community, which woke me up that we were still two countries despite seeming racial progress, showing it takes both sides to end a feud.

Third, the rise of Trump, who is now on the verge of the Republican nomination.

Honorable Mention: the '08 election of a president without a resumé and with close ties to anti-Americans like Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright.

Now for something lighter.  Too funny, this from Jonah Goldberg:

Donald Trump, Christian Martyr

Dear Reader (including all of the Manhattan-street-corner watch salesman pondering what might have been),

I was starting to doze off. The debate was all but over, and the exhaustion from the day was catching up with me, as was the scotch. The rush of finally seeing the candidates go after Trump in a serious way was wearing off replaced by a mix of dread and resignation that it may all be too little too late.

I was only half listening when Donald Trump came into the spin room on CNN to explain why he’s been audited every year for twelve years.

“I'm always audited by the IRS, which I think is very unfair -- I don’t know, maybe because of religion, maybe because of something else, maybe because I’m doing this, although this is just recently,” Trump said in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo immediately following the 10th GOP debate on Thursday night.

Cuomo cut in: “What do you mean religion?”

“Well, maybe because of the fact that I’m a strong Christian, and I feel strongly about it and maybe there’s a bias,” Trump said.

Cuomo cut in again: “You think you can get audited for being a strong Christian?”

“Well, you see what’s happened,” Trump said. “You have many religious groups that are complaining about that. They’ve been complaining about it for a long time.”

“Spit take” doesn’t even come close to describing my reaction. As it was, I gagged so hard my spleen almost came out my nose. It was nearly the first recorded instance of spontaneous self-mummification. I scared the cats because I reacted like members of Delta House when the picture of Flounder appeared on the screen.

There are two possibilities here. Either Donald Trump believes what he said, or he doesn’t. If he does believe this, he’s sufficiently delusional to disqualify himself for public office. If he doesn’t believe this, he thinks his conservative Christian supporters are morons.

Leave aside the question of whether it’s permissible to question someone’s faith. Trump says it’s outrageous when people do it to him, but he thinks it’s fine when he does it to Ted Cruz nearly every day.

The public evidence that Donald Trump was a “strong Christian” prior to saying so in the last year is, as the Donald would say, “weak, very weak.”

Even Trump’s sincere Christian supporters don’t believe that he’s a very sincere Christian, at least according to the very polls Trump prints out and sleeps on like a dragon atop a pile of gold. (Though, looked at from the right angle, it’s more like a guinea pig hoarding all the shredded-paper cage-lining.) In fact, only 5 percent of Republicans believe that Trump is “very religious,” while nearly half think he’s “not at all” religious or “not too religious.”

I know he now says that “nobody reads the Bible more than me.” But, again, I can’t imagine anyone actually believes him. (I also would have thought this is the kind of lie truly God-fearing people would not utter, for fear of, you know, lightning bolts or salt-pillarification.)

Anyway, all of this public religiosity is fairly new. Before he ran for president, if you played the word-association game with 100,000 Americans, I’d venture that not one of them would have said “Christian!” when asked, “What first comes to mind when you think of Donald Trump?”

Apparently, according to Trump, that’s only true of normal Americans. The IRS is different. It’s like the eye of Sauron searching the land for “strong Christians.” When its cruel gaze landed upon the failed casino magnate, beauty-pageant impresario, thrice-married and confessed adulterer who’s talked about how his own daughter is so hot he’d date her if she wasn’t his daughter and bragged about how it doesn’t matter what critics say about you so long as “you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass,” and who told Howard Stern that his ability to avoid getting the clap while sleeping around was his “personal Vietnam,” the IRS immediately saw the truth of the matter.

Suddenly, the alarms at the IRS Christian persecution squad started flashing. Over the P.A. system came: “Code Red! We’ve got a ‘strong Christian’ in sector 7!”

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not making light of the IRS’s well-earned reputation for inappropriately scrutinizing conservative Christian groups. (But let’s not forget, they target them because they are conservative. And for most of Donald Trump’s audit period he was a major Democratic donor.)

What I am doing is unapologetically mocking the idea that Donald Trump, a bankruptcy impresario and formerly mob-tied businessman, who likes to mock the disabled at that, was singled out by the IRS for his tendency to ask “What would Jesus do?”

Oh, and keep in mind, according to Trump, this potential Christian persecution started on George W. Bush’s watch.

I could go on for hours listing everything ludicrous about Trump’s attempt to claim he is being crucified on a cross of shady tax shelters.

But what is so dismaying is the way Trump supporters took the bait instantaneously. I won’t bore you with my Twitter feed, but I was amazed by how many people (1) immediately bought Trump’s explanation as plausible, (2) claimed I was defending the IRS’s persecution of Christians, (3) actually believe that Trump gives a ton to Christian causes. (I mean in the past. I’m sure he’s written a lot of checks this year. I personally can’t wait to see the Trump Student Center and Hall of Greatness at Liberty University.)

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