Wednesday, September 28, 2016

LIZ SMITH: The Earth Continues On Its Axis

by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Boy Vs. Adult. The Debate Happened. The Earth Continues On Its Axis.

“I WAS going to say something terrible about Hillary, her family ... but then I thought ‘No, I won’t, that’s too mean.’”

Lester Holt gave me very unfair questions at the end.”

“They gave me a defective mic’. Was that on purpose?”

Those three remarks by Donald Trump, one during the Monday night debate (deciding not to be “mean”) and the other two, immediately after, are all you need to know about Donald Trump.

He’s just a child. 
ONCE upon a time that childishness and ego and overgrown-boy-playing-in-the-sandbox-with-his toys-and-bragging persona could be amusing or endearing.  In fact it was. 

He was a real-estate tycoon. His narcissism was nobody’s business. It was up to his partners, wives and children to deal with. He was a flamboyant, garishly decorative figure on the New York scene.  Loving or loathing him wasn’t a national security issue.  Nobody had to pay attention to him if they didn’t want to.  But, like a child, he wanted everybody to pay attention, one way or another.  Now, everybody does, and it is, indeed, a matter of national and international security.
MONDAY night’s debate, will not, in my opinion, change the minds of people who believe that either Trump or Clinton is the anti-Christ.  That’s all set in stone. Especially about Secretary Clinton. (Read Janet Reitman’s extraordinary “Hillary Vs. The Hate Machine” in the current Rolling Stone.)

Only some form of intelligent life from another galaxy could  look at the two and decide impartially which one has what it takes to safely and intelligently guide the course of the most powerful nation in the world. (Obviously, we wouldn’t want those extraterrestrials to be warlike argumentative Klingons, although even they might have looked askance at Trump.)  
Kor, son of Rynar, last son of the Imperial Klingon House of Kor, assesses a potential Donald Trump presidency. "I'm beginning to think I was too lenient in my judgment of him. I don't trust him.  I should have let him stay on that space station where he belongs!"
Clinton was well-prepared, as all adults should be.  She looked terrific, giving a “touch of pneumonia” a good name. She was as charming and as cheerful as one can possibly be under the circumstances — it’s a presidential debate, not the “and here’s the serious question, potential Miss America.”

As much as optics count, I’m not interested in Hillary’s charm or cheerfulness. Or how often she feels required by her opponents to “Sparkle, Hillary, sparkle!”  My requirement is her ability to keep America great and safe and to improve a nation and a people who are constantly — if sometimes with wariness and reluctance — evolving.
If she is not perfect — and she is not — nevertheless she meets my criteria for experience, substance and stability.  It was not a “dazzling” performance. It was presidential.  I’ll get my dazzle on the next time I take in a Broadway show, or if I can persuade Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to bare their souls to me, in their time of lawyerly negotiations. Exclusively of course.  (But I’d be just as content with freshly separated Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber!)
AS FOR Donald, he began pretty well.  He stayed on course.  Not quite adult, but like a smart adolescent who has watched a lot of TV.  Then came the unraveling — his taxes, birtherism, the self-interrupting self-referencing on the qualities of being rich.

He began to ramble and strike out. It wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. But it showed the petulant, unrepentant boy with little or no impulse control.

The boy who wants a job that requires iron control on emotion and impulse.
"I will be SO presidential. Yeah, yeah. 'Winter is coming.'  We'll put lights on the Iron Throne."
The boy who wants a job where using the word “unfair” as an excuse or as a self-defense, is simply not allowed. (Donald claims to know so much — everything, in fact! But he still doesn’t know that life is unfair, even for the rich?)

And it is a job in which the boy must occasionally say, with sincerity, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake.”

I am not going to unload all the worst words that have been heaped on Trump. Why bother?  His fans actually love him for those qualities. His bragging child in a man’s body appeals to a large swath of frustrated people who rightly perceive the unending corruptions and frustrating deal-making of politics. In their frustration they all claim that they want change at any price.

Yet they disregard the corruptions and deal-making of a businessman who won’t release his tax returns and seems to imply the best way to win in America is to stick it to the other guy.  What they don’t get is that THEY are the “other guy.”  And that Donald Trump, born to wealth, given a million-dollar start-up by his daddy, was never one of them. And never will be. 
But, should Donald become president, this column believes they will learn that, the very hard way.   

If Hillary Clinton becomes president we will not achieve Utopia.  However, we will be in the hands of a brilliant, compassionate pragmatist who knows that a utopian civilization is impossible, a fantasy.

What we need to strive for is implementing the very best of American ideals, to bring out the optimism, the humanism — battered as it often is — rather than fear. Because along with the fear come fantasies about a “better time.” (Better for whom, one must always ask?)

Donald Trump is not a bad man. He’s not evil.  He’s just a boy, overcompensating for ... something. And not everything he says or represents is wrong. At first. Then, because he is a little boy, thrilled to be the center of attention at the adult table, he goes way too far. Some of the adults encourage him, amused, because he is only a child. Others see the danger in leniency and reprimand him.

As president of the United States, Boy Donald could not be sent to his room without supper until he learns to behave. The entire world would be his supper plate — filled, emptied or broken at his pleasure.

Can we risk it?
"Thank god that's over with!"

Contact Liz here.