This morning I decided to have a look at the online archive of the New York Times. I searched for items containing the name “Donald Trump.” I came across a piece dated January 28, 1973. It’s a piece others have cited in discussing Trump’s lying ways. The piece is well worth reading, primarily because it offers a thumbnail business biography of Trump’s father, who apparently really did start from nothing to build a remarkable real estate empire.
The younger Trump’s apparent fabrication appears matter-of-factly in the middle of the piece. Here’s the sentence: “Donald, who was graduated first in his class from the Wharton School of Finance of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968, joined his father about five years ago.” Donald, it turns out, did finish Wharton’s undergraduate program — not the far more prestigious MBA program—after transferring from Fordham. Nothing wrong with that, of course, even if his admission interview at Wharton was with someone who went to high school with his older brother, as Gwenda Blair noted in her 2001 book on the Trumps.
But was Donald “first in his class” at Wharton? Wharton itself won’t say. But there’s this: “The 1968 commencement program does not list him as graduating with any sort of honors,” according to Glenn Kessler, who wrote a column in 2016 with the headline “Donald Trump’s Myths About Himself.”
No doubt plenty of folks are happy to dismiss such dissembling if that’s what it was, as a bit of relatively harmless résumé embellishment. I suppose. But it’s never occurred to me that it might be okay to lie outright about my credentials. And I think it’s telling when someone feels at ease with telling lies to get to the head of the line.
I feel it. Do you? Finally, after decades of undeserved dominance, Fox News as we’ve known it is vulnerable. Why? Because the dramatic divergence between the channel’s coverage and the reality out here in the world is seeping through to the Fox audience. I don’t expect the death tomorrow or next month or this year of what Ailes wrought. But I do expect the outlet to fall gradually into shadow unless it morphs, relegated to niche status as a hangout for the folks who don’t want to know what’s out there beyond their fear and suspicion and resentment.
Remember when Republicans were hoisting the flag of patriotism, insisting that civics classes be made mandatory and prominent? Well, they’re now conducting the most effective civics class in a generation — a class in the vulnerability of the Republic when a political party, taking advantage of our anachronistic constitutional arrangements, gerrymandering, and vote suppression, takes power and puts the parochial interests of its donor class ahead of the imperative of removing a dangerous, willfully ignorant thug from the Oval Office.
Trump has not released his tax returns. He is under no legal obligation to release them. It’s fair and reasonable to draw the inference from his refusal to release them that he has something to hide from the American people that would be relevant in assessing his fitness for the nation’s highest office. The failure of Congress to force him to release the returns and to require all Presidents to release them is inexcusable. This malfeasance by Trump and his enablers should be count one in a political indictment of Trump and the Hill GOP.
Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, declared Trump’s first year “a historic success.”
— Conor Friedersdorf, ‘Never Trump’ Will Be the Only Faction Still Standing When He’s Gone, The Atlantic, December 27, 2017.
Breathtaking, no? Ms. McDaniel’s declaration underlines the gulf between what the leadership of the Republican Party actually wants for America and what the rest of us want, including a fair percentage of the Trump nation. We are not, as a nation, neoliberals. The tax bill doesn’t exhilarate us. We do not regard an apotheosis of the market as the single most effective guarantor of freedom in the republic. On the contrary, we generally understand as a people that our freedom would be diminished more and more over time in a society radically committed to enforcing market outcomes. Freedom to the sky for the Koch brothers emphatically does not translate to enhanced freedom for you and me. Our freedom is maximized in a mixed economy undergirded by constitutional limitations on government. Social security maximizes overall freedom by relieving want among the elderly and others. So, too, medicaid and aid to education and many other programs. Neoliberalism is a false god, suspiciously co-extensive with greed, and it is the god the RNC worships on behalf of its well-heeled donor class.
Having access to mass media and having anything worthwhile to say are independent variables.
How shall we assess Senator Corker’s part in the unfolding American crucible? His open and honest condemnation of Trump’s degradation of the Presidency must be acknowledged and heartily commended. Let’s start with that. But let’s also condemn, at least as roundly, his transparent hypocrisy in helping send to Trump’s desk a tax “reform” bill crafted in secrecy and haste, substantially by lobbyists, to appease the GOP’s donor class and with reckless indifference to fiscal responsibility and to the fate of ordinary Americans.
The best thing about this holiday period is that it marks the end of a year unsurpassed in my lifetime for national awfulness. Trump, his supporters, and his enablers drowned 2017 in layer after layer of the raw sewage of hatefulness, cruel indifference, and shameful silence. They debased the Republic, hijacking it as a tool for their gratification. They treated the vulnerable like dirt, coddled bigotry, and ate away at the commitments we’ve made to ourselves and the world to be better than we’ve been, to work toward a more perfect union and a safer earth.
Let’s, then, ring in the new year, 2018, with the bell of enough’s enough. Let’s gather ourselves for battle, giving no quarter and expecting our adversaries to do their worst. Let’s press toward November recognizing that we will be the only authors of our salvation.
There ought to be a Serling Society open to all who appreciate that the Twilight Zone ranks with the great works of western civilization, on a par with Don Quixote and the original Miracle on Thirty-Fourth Street.
We should be, but aren’t, a majoritarian republic. The electoral college, the composition of the Senate, gerrymandering, and vote suppression have put in power a minority government that is imposing radical, profoundly damaging, and unpopular policies on the country.