Airs May 7, 2016 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: https://youtu.be/UcZDJBjwbW8
Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of May 8, 2016.
Just over a year ago, I did a Rabbinical Reflection about the 2016 presidential candidates for the Republican Party. There were a dozen and a half of them—remember? Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Scott Walker—a veritable who’s who of who’s hooligans.
Almost as an aside, I included the candidacy of Donald Trump. I said, and I quote, “Donald Trump, who went bankrupt three times and yet brands himself as a financial genius. Donald Trump, who has a magnificent knack for self-promotion but spends money he doesn’t have like it’s going out of style—why isn’t he running as a Democrat?”
The idea of Donald Drumpf actually getting traction as a viable candidate, and the thought that more than a few flakes would vote for this narcissistic, self-aggrandizing Oompa Loompa was downright comical. And even if he did ride the cult of celebrity for awhile, you had fifteen other G.O.P. hopefuls with their own deluded followers. But then America happened. And the people rejected Chris Christie and his highway robbery. They rejected Marco Rubio the wind-up doll. They rejected Ben Carson, who didn’t need anaesthesia during heart surgery because he could put patients to sleep just by talking to them.
By the time the conservative muckymucks realized that Donald Trump was not just
a fad but a movement—and I don’t just mean the kind of movement I have every other morning if I’m lucky and drink my prune juice—by the time the powers that be of the G.O.P. realized their conservative groundswell was getting dug up by a real-estate developer, it was too late to stop him.
My God, their best shot was Ted Cruz, a man who couldn’t find one person to like him—even when he was looking in the mirror. Ted Cruz was a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, vehemently pro-Israel (God bless him for that), and seemingly in line with everything the Republican party wanted to roll back from the last eight years. And yet, not a single soul in the House or Senate wanted to work with him. Former speaker of the house John Boehner called Ted Cruz, quote, “Lucifer in the flesh!” and “the most miserable son of a bitch” he ever worked with, unquote. This from Boehner, a man who always behaved like he had a stick so far up his tushie, you could see splinters on his uvula.
And yet, this loathed and despised senator, Ted Cruz, was the Republicans’ last hope of putting one of their boys into the White House. Oh, wait, I’m forgetting about John Kasich. Because we all forgot about John Kasich. The past three months, he should have just changed his name to something Chinese, like: “Oh Him Too.” Especially since his name was on ballots like those restaurants in Chinatown that keep items like putrefied eggs and pig bladders on the menu even though no one in their right minds would order them.
To be fair, Kasich seemed like he had a brilliant strategy compared to go-for-broke losers like Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz. Why spend money? Why knock yourself out in races you can’t individually win? Just keep treading water, don’t make waves, and when it’s time for the contested convention, make your perfect dive. What Kasich didn’t realize is that voters saw through his shabby chicanery with Cruz and voted straight up for the man who wasn’t endorsed by the party, wasn’t owned by the Koch brothers, and wasn’t a career politician.
So when the dust settled last week, and the delegate votes were counted, the only candidate with a clear mandate was the one with the cloudiest agenda: Donald Trump. The clown had become the clown prince. This despite—or maybe because of—his penchant for school-bully insults and his crazy, off-the-cuff statements about the Klan and Mexicans and ugly women and pretty women being punished for their abortions. They used to call Reagan the Teflon president because everything stupid slid off him. Well, Trump is Teflon sprayed with Pam, coated with goose grease, and dipped in K.Y. Jelly. Whatever he says, his followers counter with, “He really speaks his mind” or “well, he may say one thing, but we know what he really means.” Do we?
Look, I’m the first to admit—or, if not the first, maybe the 12,030th—to admit that Donald Trump’s wildcard, shoot-from-the-lip status has a visceral appeal. If the two parties running, and usually ruining, the country for the past 30 years don’t approve, he must be good, right? And being a great persuader, he appeals to our emotions—unlike Hilary, who appeals to, well, not even her husband.
But let’s not forget that Donald Trump is a man who promises a robust job market, and yet he grew famous from a TV show on which he fired everyone! This is a man who used to be pro-choice, but when he becomes a Republican, hup!, he suddenly turns anti-abortion. This is a man who vows to fix the country’s troubles by collaborating with the best and brightest, but he couldn’t even find enough intelligent minds to teach in a bogus university. This is a man who wants to keep out immigrants, unless they’re six feet tall, anorexic, and look good on a bearskin rug. This is a man who wants to help the little guy, by building casinos to take their money and hotel rooms that only movie stars can afford.
In other words, the wizard behind the curtain has done very, very well for himself. For others? Not so much. For better or worse, we’ve spent the last eight years led by a community organizer who, perhaps naively, thought he could bring everyone together to solve problems. Are we now ready, instead, for a semi-benevolent dictator who thinks he knows everything and whose answer for every crisis is, “It’ll be amazing. It’ll be beautiful. Believe me.”
We’d like to believe you, Donald. We’d like to believe in something. But 240 years of politics, not to mention the Bernie Sanders campaign, have taught us the futility of belief. And I’m a Rabbi saying this! So if the votes are counted on November 8th, and America chooses the bloviating, thoughtless TV star over the jilted, calumniating harridan, all we can do is what we always do every four years on January 20th: pray.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, New York. .
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