Robert Stein 1924-2014

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If anyone has comments, questions or condolences, please feel free to send a private message to the family at robertstein@optonline.net.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Trump Redux

In memory of my late father’s birthday today I am reposting several blogs he wrote in 2011 on Trump’s flirtation with running for President.

Portions are eerily prescient:

 4/21/11 Trump, Reagan and Karl Marx:
"History repeats itself," said the father of Communism, "first as tragedy, then as farce." He foresaw what's going on now in a disoriented GOP that still hates his guts...With disgust now at the rage level, the Trump boomlet is riding a much stronger current. Unless a plausible Republican stops his momentum, it could carry him to the nomination by default and fulfill the Marxist prophecy with a Groucho Marx farce. But few Americans would be laughing.

4/26/11 Trump's Bully Pulpit: As a fake reality star, Trump is now taking it all to the logical extreme, stepping off the set of his own show to run rampant all over the small screen, cutting out interviewers, the middle men, by taking over both parts of the dialogue.  If he gets there, he can stock the White House Briefing Room with cardboard reporters and ask himself only the questions he wants to answer. He is giving us a preview of that now.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Trump, Reagan and Karl Marx

"History repeats itself," said the father of Communism, "first as tragedy, then as farce." He foresaw what's going on now in a disoriented GOP that still hates his guts.

If Donald Trump stops tripping over himself to win the nomination, the party line would hail him as the Second Coming of Reagan, but the parallels are not the ones they would be selling.

Both candidates were created by TV, Reagan as a pitchman for General Electric (a global corporation that now pays no taxes) and Trump as the fictional business giant who, in real life, keeps losing other people's money and going bankrupt.

Unlike Trump, Reagan's ratings went south. As a former not-quite-movie star and one-time Democrat, he turned to conservative politics the way washed-up contemporaries now flock to celebrity reality shows and roasts, delivering a canned speech about free enterprise with such sincerity that he found himself Governor of California.

But in today's souped-up media-ocracy, no experience is required as presidential apprenticeship: Trump is poised to go directly from what David Brooks calls "Blowhardia" to a White House run with none of Reagan's experience in the government trenches.

Political incorrectness might not stand in the way. Just as Reagan became the first divorced president ever, conservatives may overlook Trump's flamboyant personal life the way many backed a multi-married, cross-dressing, pro-choice Rudy Giuliani the last time around. Desperation for a winner breeds tolerance.

After the bumbling of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, Reagan rode into the White House on public disgust for two soothing terms as a Great Communicator who did little domestically and almost got himself impeached for illegal behavior in the Iran-Contra dealings but is now remembered mostly for his "Morning in America" rhetoric.

With disgust now at the rage level, the Trump boomlet is riding a much stronger current. Unless a plausible Republican stops his momentum, it could carry him to the nomination by default and fulfill the Marxist prophecy with a Groucho Marx farce. But few Americans would be laughing. With the possible exception of Democrats who, other than Obama and Clinton, have held a monopoly on ridiculous candidates over the past half century.

Update: The Trump farce continues as he berates Jerry Seinfeld for pulling out of one of his charities with unpresidential nastiness and to keep the publicity pot boiling promises to reveal "very interesting things" about the search for Obama's birth records.

Anybody here old enough to remember Geraldo Rivera's big buildup to opening Al Capone's safe and finding it empty?

http://ajliebling.blogspot.com/2011/04/donald-trump-ronald-reagan-and-karl.html

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mixed Blessing for Trump: A Flashback

Billy Graham's son and successor says the Donald may be his "candidate of choice" for the Presidency, stirring memories of how the fabled minister got his start as the spiritual advisor to Presidents.

In backing Trump, the Grahams would be coming full circle on gambling casinos from a founder of Las Vegas to the honcho of Atlantic City.

In 1940s after starting out as a Fuller Brush salesman, the elder Graham went to L. A. and started saving celebrity souls. A young evangelist not adverse to publicity, he was landing only small fish until he hooked onto the mobster who helped Bugsy Siegel invent Vegas, Mickey Cohen ("I have killed no man that didn't deserve killing." Think Harvey Keitel in Warren Beatty's 1991 movie, "Bugsy.").

The conversion lasted only long enough to generate headlines but, after Cohen did a prison stretch, the Rev. Graham tried again, breaking bread with the reformed gangster.

"I am very high on the Christian way of life," Cohen said afterward. "Billy came up, and before we had food he said—-What do you call it. that thing they say before food? Grace? Yeah, grace. Then we talked a lot about Christianity and stuff."

Alas, the conversion was not a complete success and, after flaunting his legitimacy in the media, Cohen was sent back to prison for tax evasion. "Christian football players, Christian cowboys, Christian politicians," he shrugged. "Why not a Christian gangster?"

But the Graham ministry has never backed down from a challenge and, in Donald Trump, they will have the biggest to date. In converting to piety a loudmouth, loose-living, double-dealing egomaniac, they will be moving up from praying with Presidents to trying to create one.

Heaven help them--and the rest of us. "God does play dice with the universe," Albert Einstein famously said, but legendary evangelists apparently do, if they are willing to put Donald Trump's finger on the White House nuclear button.

http://ajliebling.blogspot.com/2011/04/mixed-blessing-for-trump-flashback.html

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Trump's Bully Pulpit

Anderson Cooper, who was pushed around by a Cairo crowd earlier this year, takes a verbal mauling while trying to interrupt Donald Trump's tirade about the Obama birth certificate with a few facts.

This was not what Teddy Roosevelt had in mind when he called the Presidency a bully pulpit. Luckily for the CNN anchor, it was a phone interview so the shoving was verbal as the non-candidate kept pelting him with shaky assertions even as Cooper struggled to get a few words in to question the sources on which they were based.

As bad as the mud wrestling was, CNN will air the rest of the interview tonight. Why so much Trump trumpery? Cable news, of course, is about ratings, not journalism, and as the network honcho explained his importance in the 1970s movie "Network" to the insane anchorman, "Because you're on TV, dummy."

Ironically, Trump's media ride comes as HBO is showing a muddled movie dramatizing the origin of reality TV, the 1973 PBS series about the Loud family, under the title "Cinema Verite" (pretentious, moi?).

One theme of that effort is how journalists, even "documentary" filmmakers, and their subjects "manipulate each other and thus warp the story they're co-creating."

As a fake reality star, Trump is now taking it all to the logical extreme, stepping off the set of his own show to run rampant all over the small screen, cutting out interviewers, the middle men, by taking over both parts of the dialogue.

If he gets there, he can stock the White House Briefing Room with cardboard reporters and ask himself only the questions he wants to answer. He is giving us a preview of that now.


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