We’ve been warned
By Walt Zlotow
Really bad presidents do much to conceal their unfitness for office during the campaign. Such is the case with the two worst in my lifetime, Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. Nixon rose to power in the McCarthy era; smearing Democratic incumbent Jerry Voorhis as a communist sympathizer in 1946 to win his California House seat. He reprised that line, branding Democrat Helen Douglas as the ‘Pink Lady’ to grab the Senate seat in 1950. Nor did we truly have a window into his mental instability only evidenced by his little seen 1962 post gubernatorial defeat press conference showing a clearly unhinged Nixon. But such ruthlessness and mental unfitness were largely forgotten by 1968 when Nixon won the presidency on a promise to end the Vietnam War. Then he went berserk in a futile effort to prevent America’s first lost war, before self destructing from paranoia and personal insecurity pursuing his imagined domestic demons.
George W. Bush slithered into the White House as the affable (though largely failed) son of President George H.W. Bush; the guy you’d like to share a beer with instead of the smart but stiff Al Gore. Bush campaigned on a promise to pull back from nation building but then went full monty after 911 unleashed the war mongering neocons who played Bush like a Stradivarius to bust up the Middle East, sending hundreds of thousands to an needless death.
While Nixon and Bush voters get a pass on electing truly dreadful presidents, anyone voting for Donald Trump knows exactly the tsunami of fear and loathing he represents. He wears his unfitness as a badge of honor, leading his 12 million primary voters to act out their hatred of the ‘other’ that has gotten some measure of relief and support from that foreign born, secret Muslim traitor for the past eight years. That was Trump’s pitch from Day One.
Republican leaders hate Trump for exposing the sick underbelly of their constituency. They despise him for not using the established GOP code for garnering that disaffected vote without resorting to overt xenophobia and racism. A Trump presidency will be no mystery and no surprise.
We’ve been warned.