The Times, They are A-Changin.’ Or are They?

George Will long has been a rock of intelligence and erudite conservative Op-Ed comments in numerous US newspapers. His writing style is brilliant, reasoned, and expressed in very sophisticated American English. He recounts that doubts about the rational outlook of Mr. Trump began when photos of the crowd at his Inaugural in Washington following his election in 2016 showed around a third to a half of the size of the crowd four years prior at President Obama’s Inauguration. For reasons still not understood, President Trump responded to criticism by doubling down and stating repeatedly that the crowd as his swearing in was “larger, by a lot." He never retracted that in spite of photographs vividly comparing the two crowds. I'm not sure that any of us gave much thought to that other than why contest the obvious. Then came the President’s characterization of white ruffian skin-heads carrying Swastikas at Charlottesville as “very nice people." Looking back, these provided data points of Mr. Trump never retracting anything, never saying he is wrong ... fake media. He did, at one point, in a terse one-liner, retract his continuously false statements that President Obama was not born in America, a tag line of Mr. Trump’s long standing “Birther” theory.

 

Winds of change, national and international forces that preceded the election of Mr. Trump over Ms. Clinton, were deep and they continue. The divide between rural portions of this country and our urban areas is significant. People have different lifestyles. The sorts of work people do: agriculture, technology, IT, retailing, and manufacturing are quite different. Religious faith seems more ingrained as a rural and small town tenet; evangelical congregations are especially strong in these areas. Large Mega-Churches and evangelican television programs are popular with Trump supporters. The divide also is significant between age groups and different races. The Red-Blue separation is no longer one primarily of traditional and somewhat timeless political philosophy such as regulation, personal responsibility, foreign policy and trade, but one now influenced by one’s views on border security, abortion, prayer in schools and public places, and cultural issues. Economic changes depopulate wide swaths of the country-side as people move to cities for newer jobs and increase the divide. Suburbs, areas of nice lawns and homes once reasonably secure for Republican votes, now are trending Democratic, with exceptional strength among women.

 

Mr. Trump allows himself to be “transactional” on many issues, just to get something done.  But his internal compass is strong along certain bearings including border security,  concern about immigration, more protection for mineral extraction and mature industries, as well as “America First.” I certainly agree that the country must ensure we have not outsourced literally everything but military goods and social media leadership to China. But business priorities cannot outweigh the environment. Mr. Trump speaks in terms, sometimes coded in ways his supporters understand, terms that resonate culturally, and confirm he “has their back.” Yet in reality, economic gains have not been spread equally, with literally untold wealth creation for few while many live in crowded and unsafe neighborhoods from meager paychecks with no financial backstop.  The COVID-19 pandemic has eliminated many of these jobs as well, and with the current deaths of black men in police hands, racial tensions are high.

 

Younger people are the vanguard of change, while older citizens are more change resistant in all areas. Mr. Trump remains strong in the areas where he appeals to the more traditional religious and cultural beliefs, and the electoral system of the USA is such that he can be reelected if he wins a majority in the states where these traditions predominate. In the last election, he won a strong majority of electoral votes while losing the popular vote by three million by successfully appealing to these voters. "Make America Great Again" is a simplistic and appealing tag-line.

 

Mr. Will is extremely critical of Mr. Trump’s personal style as well as his principles. In fact, many of the President's own supporters are uneasy with this. Trump’s method is to “attack, never retreat, and never say I am wrong.”  Mr. Trump often makes statements that are clearly factually wrong. More than ten thousand of these public statements have been documented as false since his election. This does not seem to bother his most fervent base. He has boasted that he could shoot someone on a main street and no one would care. To approximately 35% of the voters, that appears to be the case in fact. Mr. Will is very harsh in his criticism of the President, calling him a “Vulgarian” and “small man” as well as “a malignant buffoon.“ Will writes that the nation is spiraling downward into acrimony and sporadic anarchy, which is very evident now. He writes that the Republican Party has fallen into silent, sycophantic acceptance if not approval of Trump’s style as long as they themselves get re-elected and get their Supreme Court appointments. To run in a Republican primary election without the endorsement of the President is a curse of defeat, no matter that the national debt has ballooned, US leadership in NATO has been hollowed out, our allies wonder about US commitment, key trade pacts have been cancelled, immigrants are less welcomed, and US participation in the World Health Organization is cancelled. All of this is taking place in the midst of the worst viral pandemic in one hundred years, which has triggered the most severe economic contraction since the 1920-30’s. Racial unrest, triggered by years of frustration, is spilling over in our cities as a wave of police excesses has occurred, but with ugly violence and destruction of the very stores and services that cater to the same frustrated population. The President responds with a theme of Law and Order.

 

Between 30-40% of the US, more or less, are unvaryingly loyal to President.  Apparently, absolutely nothing will break their commitment to their man. Approximately 40-50% have the opposite viewpoint. There are some 15-20%, give or take, who somehow have remained either neutral, wait and see, or who just don’t care. The key to Mr. Trump’s re-election or defeat will be these, along with turnout. Trump’s base - mostly older, white men along with the conservative religious voters - is sure to vote. Will the minority community, so supportive to Obama, but less participatory for Ms. Clinton, turn out against Trump? Young voters, often strong Democratic Party supporters, are notoriously fickle in voting percentages. The polls historically have undercounted Trump supporters for some reason: Are they not asked? Do respondents answer truthfully? In some areas, to be a Trumper is a mark of scorn. So the accuracy of polling is questionable, as is the fact that things are changing so fast with the economic and medical hurricane in which we live, along with social unrest.

 

The election ahead is likely to be the rawest and most unsettling in our lifetime. Trump’s strategy is to counter punch, threaten and demean, no matter how bizarre the information might be. This strategy has been successful for him. The opposing candidate is put into a box and must defend against an array of incredible attacks. Mr. Biden’s heroic older son Beau, who served with such distinction in the US military, and who died from a fatal brain cancer, was a hero.  Biden’s younger son, Hunter (by one year) has made decisions that will ensure an endless series of accusations on his father. One wonders why a young man with a solid background could be selfish and stupid at the same time. This matter alone, Hunter Biden’s extremely questionable choices, is worthy of valid criticism. In addition to beating this to death, Mr. Trump apparently will wander off into Trump fantasy land and has accused Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough of murdering a young aide, a woman who had documented heart problems. She apparently had a heart attack while working in his office two decades ago, at a time while Scarborough was miles away on a business trip. Zero facts support such conspiracy theories and terrible malevolent lies, however this is Trump conspiracy world at its best, or worst. Just get ready for a trip through Uglyville.

 

In what was a truly concerning move, and this should be troubling to all Americans, a phalanx of military/policing /security forces that reminded some of a Praetornian Guard with shields appeared to secure the President’s recent Bible-thrusting photo opportunity while standing outside a famous church near the White House. This ominious force were dressed in “non-descriptive” dark clothing with no insignia or otherwise identification as to their unit, or even that they are American! Does the American public, demonstrating peacefully in full accord with their First Amendment rights peacefully, now get swept aside by horsemen and baton-yielding strongmen who are dressed in black? Is this an American version of the Black Shirts and Brown Shirts from you-know-where back in the 1930s?

 

For the most part, Republican members of Congress have remained silent. Senator Murkowski of Alaska alone appeared to have enough independence to question the President, but recently Senator Mitt Romney of Utah has added his voice. In addition several senior military officers who have served in key governmental civilian positions of authority now have come forward criticizing the President on his handling of current chaotic events and specifically the use of US military and security for questionable civilian purposes such as mentioned above. These men include James Mattis, retired Marine Corps General who served as Secretary of Defense under Mr. Trump, John Kelly, retired Marine Corps General who served as Chief of Staff and Secretary of Homeland Security for Trump, Mike Mullen, retired Navy Admiral and former Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and John Allen, retired Marine Corps General and Commander of NATO International Security (and US) Forces in Afghanistan. In addition, Colin Powell, retired General in the US Army and former Secretary of State, blasted the President in a major interview on CNN. Finally (and the list of key military leaders is getting long), William McRaven, US Navy Admiral, Commander of American Special Forces and recently Chancellor of the University of Texas System also is on public record in opposition to President Trump.

 

Virtually no one alive today has seen anything like this. Certainly the Covid-19 Pandemic is random, if a viral infection that has killed 110,000 Americans to this point can be such. Yet early reactions to the virus with clearly assinane positions that "it will go away" and failure to take actions to minumize infection rates have accelerated the spread. The resulting national and international recession is deep and will leave long-lasting effects in many  ways. Public anger of police excesses and long standing racial frustrations are tearing at the very fabric of the country. All in all, it feels we are living in a fantasy land with a well-dressed puppet careening from one superlative declaration (the greatest ... this or that) to incredibly demeaning comdemnations of people and things; woven into a history of serial exxagerations and lies. There is only one way out; to return to an honest leadership style. Mr. Trump is a strongman demagogue cast in timeless form. Chaos reigns. Enough!

 

Comments are welcome and will be published, pro and con without the writer's identity. Make your comments below, or send to me via email at n3bb@mindspring.com

 

Enjoy life; it's the only one we will get.

 

J.K. (Jim) George

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18 Responses

  1. Jim, Only a couple of comments as we obviously look for different things from Presidents. In short, I don't look to the President to be my moral or spiritual leader. I look to a President to keep people working and provide for the National security and to provide definitive leadership, i.e., I want to know where he/she stands. Never any doubt where Trump stands, like it or not. Again not out to change any minds, just putting forth a different view. To be honest, I could care less what George Will says (I used to read him regularly) or any other political journalist or talking head, conservative or liberal, who writes or performs in the political arena. Another thing I'm certain of, none of them care about what I think. They have their opinion and they have one vote, just like you, just like me. They have no more insight or wisdom because they write well or use sophisticated American English. They write and perform to increase circulation and/or ratings, no different really than a CEO looking at the company's bottom line. And the same for those who have critical words for the President, some of which are deserved, but go take the Presidency of the US and see if you can find someone who disagrees with you. I put very little, if any, weight on those comments. There is also no doubt that you could find just as long a list of praise for Trump from high ranking individuals, that you would probably discount. . At the end of the day, the leadership of this country is defined by the voters, not George Will. BTW, where are the lists of criticisms of Biden:-) One last thing, the birther theory is not Trumps's as you say in your post, This theory was born in the 2008 campaign for the Democratic nomination. The story can be found here, https://www.politico.com/story/2011/04/birtherism-where-it-all-began-053563. At a minimum Hillary's campaign staff circulated a memo promoting the theory and from there it grew legs. Contrary to popular belief, Republicans did not author that theory. Of course, they jumped on board and in the world of politics, why wouldn't they? Keep writing Jim, it helps keep me sharp:-) Regards. Mike
  2. JK James George
    From email: Anon-1 Hi Jim, Excellent article I just read. There is a year that I believe was darker than these times and I have talked about it with my employees to encourage them. Times have been darker and we survived. 1968..Global flu pandemic began that fall and took 100,000+ lives in the USA. As a % of population that is worse than we are experiencing right now. On top of that, Nixon was elected. MLK and RFK were assassinated. The positive side - LBJ pushed the Civil Rights Act through. Stay well,
  3. JK James George
    From email: Anon-2 Jim, as far as I am concerned Obummer was the worst president in our history and I am concerned that anyone would vote for Biden! I don't like a lot of the things that Trump doe's but I believe he has America at heart! You can disparage him all you want but I will not vote for anyone from the Democrat Socialist party! Pass this on if you want!
  4. JK James George
    From email: Anon-3 Now if the religious right can explain how they are able to support a president who has a history of lying and cheating people who do work for him. Sixty times the State of Florida found it necessary to sue on behalf of employees who were forced to work overtime and not paid. Three hundred forty times liens have be placed on properties owned by the president by contractors who did contracted work but were " shorted "in payment. The actor Don Johnson owns a ocean race team . The boat and team are a million dollar investment. The president approached Johnson and offered a sponsorship of the team. He wanted his name printed boldly on this very expensive race boat. The name printed was to be larger than any of the other sponsors." Bold letters across the side of the boat ". A customized paint job was done . No payment was ever made . What company would hire a executive who has used the bankruptcy laws to avoid payment of legitimate debt six times ? I'm confused, where is the bar set on moral conduct by the religious right ? What are their standards of conduct ? Perhaps the viewing of the presidents many guest appearances on the Howard Stern Radio Show would give them a moment of clarity .
  5. JK James George
    From emai: Anon-4 In Spanish the word for bully is maton (accent over the o)…
  6. JK James George
    From email: Anon-5 im , I enjoyed your blog “ The Times..” . In large, your observations are great. I am an attorney and love to opine which I do very often . I am probably much more conservative that you and I rarely “tone it down” . I restrain no facts as I see them and speak them boldly under the 1st amendment assurance of freedom to do so . But I appreciate those with the ability and courage to discern and expose “the truth” as they see it in an age of suppression on individual thought that deviates in any way from the “new orthodoxy”. I had to laugh with you. I understand so well , the error on Joe Scarborough vs Biden. Many times in my writings I discover stupid things like that , in fact, I am so “gun shy” on things like that I over proof my stuff – I STILL BLOW IT!! But when it inevitably occurs it goes to remind me that I am “just human “.
  7. JK James George
    From email: Anon-6 Thanks for the information. I agree with George Will. This president is scary. I am afraid if he loses the election he will declare himself to have won and the country will be in more of a crisis. He reminds me of what Hitler did in Germany. Everyone should be worried.
  8. JK James George
    From email: Anon-7 Great job, Jim. Of course I'm very much aligned with your argument/sentiment. But, also, it's well written and has impact.
  9. JK James George
    From email: Anon-8 Exciting information here! A few of the comments I’ve heard but definitely bear repeating. Most of your blog was about new material I’d never read or heard of even on the news (when I do manage to see it.) I don’t doubt your word just wonder if the fickle media is causing some of us or just me to have so many doubts of their veracity we become ill informed, uninformed or just ignorant of the truth ? Thus, the need for your voice and blogs! As always you elegantly and confidently write your way into our minds with enough interesting facts, quotes and questions to make you sound sincere! More importantly It also makes your readers feel smarter for understanding you!
  10. JK James George
    From email: Anon-9 Thanks. I will say that George Will’s column was as stark and solid an indictment of The Great Orange One as I have seen—solid because it is not from Rachael Maddow (as entertaining and bright as she is, she cannot see beyond center left) or from direct political opponents or from former members of the administration, or from Al Sharpton or from late night TV hosts whose job description seems to require insult by caricature--- no, solid because Mr. Will would generally find some basis in a good range of the policies of the administration (and therefore in ordinary times, something attributed to the Chief Executive), and with a reputation for a measured and disciplined commitment to a social schema for the US that has historically provided growth, improvement, comfort, stability, and honor for many for a long span of time. And the indictment was stark because Mr. Will used unflinchingly harsh language about the sitting president. Thanks for your elaboration and information in the note. I will say that you have avoided the banshee moans that seem to characterize many descriptions of the near term. I don’t really need to add anything and won’t try but I can put a couple of other branches out: We now know that the future is not what it used to be. Fareed Zakaria is frequently correct. The lines of discussion for many seem to have dissolved into a contest of two memes: (a) The caricature of a sharp, glowing, inerrant, line of scientific truth holding at bay the bloody hordes of Mammon seeking to devour the innocent elderly, and (b) the equally squalid caricature of the pure and chaste anger of Uncompromising Liberty, in her flowing robes and with the strong fabric of the Cloth Of The Flag, protecting the innocent honest population wanting only their modest and quiet life, as she battles the bony clutches of the Evil Dr. Lenin-Marx-Khrushchev-Mao-Ho Chi Minh-Clinton-Rosenberg-Stalin-Arafat-Beelzebub-Amin (and his minion Fauci) as that Evil Dr. seeks to pollute the souls of, and to disembowel, the innocent honest population. (That doesn’t even touch the gushing social wound ripped open by a callous criminal’s definitive and final oppression of a person whose life was crisscrossed by the barbed wire of the law, or the epic—sorry, that’s EPIC –cupidity, cowardice, caprice, and craven cunning of our president.) Otherwise, I hope you are doing well.
  11. JK James George
    From email: Anon 10 Charlie Kirk talks faster than I can listen. But he's right on the money. >> Frankly, this should become a 2020 campaign video for Trump. I have >> always liked Charlie Kirk, but this guy tells it exactly like it is. >> There is not one thing that is stated that can be refuted. May God help >> us all if Trump doesn't get reelected
  12. JK James George
    From email: Anon-11 Right on the money and well said. The supporters are firm in their beliefs and choose to remain ignorant of the facts. I have little understanding of how these people function. I'll do my part and vote accordingly...if I can vote in November...if there will be elections...
  13. JK James George
    From email: Anon 12 Hi Jim, A thoughtful comprehensive opinion piece about Trump. Nice job!
  14. JK James George
    From email: Anon 12 Interesting perspective. Let me know your thoughts. (send a link) You already know I don’t like Trump as a person but I like how he is trying to clean up the swamp.
  15. JK James George
    From email: Anon 13 Jim, AMEN!
  16. JK James George
    From email: Anon 14 Jim We enjoyed this. The blog is very respectful and polite towards the President while still getting the points made. Any leader should at least try to show impeccable integrity, empathy, humility, and set a tone from the top. This President fails in all these aspects and we have to hope that he does not set the ‘’role model behaviors’’ for future political leadership in this nation. We wouldn’t ever want any of our grandchildren to follow his example. For us this is not a red v blue discussion, it is'' fitness for office ‘' Thanks for the blog
  17. Jim, I've enjoyed your books and put up with much of your left-leaning diatribes about President Trump since most were on the money. However, you've picked up the pace of left-wing rhetoric with this one! It reminds me of local TV where the news readers say/read one thing and the pictures say another. The term "non-descriptive" and relating it to the Nazis is going too far! Emblems and other identifying insignia were visible in many pictures. I'm surprised you used a photo to prove your point, much like the media that uses video and pictures to their advantage while they hide the full truth. Don't take away from the ridiculousness of this stupid photo op. Stating the facts is sufficient. Save the eloquent prose for another book. Don't head in the direction of propaganda, lies, and exaggeration that your nemesis (Trump) uses. It defeats your purpose! He provides ample fodder for you and late night comedians just by opening his mouth or tweeting. Let him dig his own hole without exaggeration on your part. Cheers, Bill
  18. Ah . Joe Biden. He's like my Model 75 Fluke Multi-meter. . . old, dependable, unexciting -- no graphing, no wireless, just a plain old voltmeter. I got this excellent meter from a course taken at National Instruments in Austin TX on Cinco d'Mayo '94. -- Austin is a great place to be on Cinco d'Mayo, btw. So the Joe Biden Fluke Multimeter went missing a couple weeks ago, and I asked Barbara if she'd seen it. She said no, but use daughter Kim's think and re-trace method. . think when you last used it and retrace your steps. Finally recalled using it to check a ham radio antenna feed line and there it was, under an Oak tree 100' down the road. . . lying on the ground kind of resting. When turned on, the display flickered a bit . . kind of like sleepy Joe in the early primaries. BUT a new 9V battery brought it fully back to life -- first battery replacement in 16 years -- kind of like the re-energizing Joe got from the SC primary. Who are my dream candidates for November? General Colin Powell and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. That will of course never happen. Hunter Biden is, indeed, a horrible campaign liabiliby. Talk about nepotism! Rather we won't be able to talk about nepotism. Let's hope for an open Demo convention -- Joe is only a presumptive nominee. Democrats need to have a big fight over their selection. Also, probaby won't happen. Turning the Senate to democratic majority would be useful. My $'s are going to Mike Espy of Mississippi, challening a female incumbent senator from that state. Mike has a real chance. He was Secy of Agriculture under Bill Clinton until they ran him out of the Dept. for having the nerve and foolishness to serve as Ag Secretary while being black. I was an Agricultural Research Service scientist in the Bay Area then and Mike Espy was my boss four levels up. You wouldn't believe the stories, which included a Nebraska allegation that Mike couldn't tell a cow from a pig.

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