Editor’s note: The conversations featured here are the product of the author’s memory, with the intent of preserving long-held friendships with people he hopes will regain their mental equilibrium once The Donald and his cohorts vacate the White House.
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They didn’t grow up to be cowboys, thanks in large part to their mamas. They were doctors and lawyers and such, as Waylon and Willie sang about decades ago. Others were once bankers or government workers in some of the more difficult administrative jobs on the federal, state and local level.
These are my friends and family members from more than 50 years spent grinding out a paycheck in stops ranging from Delaware to Texas. People I grew to respect for many reasons as we confronted the challenges of making ends meet, raising and supporting families, and finding time to share a few beach encounters along the way to retirement.
In other words, these are not people I would have never considered to be part of The Donald’s political base. Yes, I knew they had voted Republican in the past and strongly supported the GOP political approach to governing our country. We had spirited debates during the Reagan, “H.W.” Bush and “W” Bush years given my constant support for candidates sporting the Democratic Party banner.
But backing The Donald unconditionally?
Recently I found myself scratching my head when a few of these fine folks told me they not only voted for The Donald in 2016, but continue to support his anti-America, chaotic and corrupt presidency.
“I don’t look to him for moral or ethical leadership,” one of them explained to me during a wide-open discussion about the Putin-loving chief executive of our country. “I wanted someone who was outside the government and would fix what was broken in Washington. He’s done that. The politicians just can’t stand the fact that he doesn’t do things the ‘normal’ way.”
“Hold on a second,” I shot back. “You don’t care that he lies at an alarming rate — more than 7,000 times since taking office two years ago? That his presidential focus is on how he can pad his pockets at taxpayer expense — booking trips and events at his resort properties to the tune of tens of millions of dollars?”
“Well, sometimes I wish he wouldn’t say some of the things he says,” another GOP friend confessed. “But that’s Trump. That’s how he worked as a dealmaker his whole life. He’s not going to change. He’s going to speak his mind. He’s going to do what’s best for America.”
“A dealmaker?” I asked incredulously. “His casinos went bankrupt. His real estate operations were so bad American financial institutions stopped lending him money, which forced him to turn to Russian oligarchs to keep his family living in the gold-plated lap of luxury he and they had gotten used to over decades of bad business dealings with not only lending institutions but contractors, subcontractors and employees.”
My protest was to no avail. “Sure he had some problems as any real estate developer in New York has when trying to operate in that cut throat environment,” said a friend familiar with the worlds of commercial real estate and financial institutions. “But he came out a winner most of the time because he knew how to play tough and get results. That’s what I like about him.”
“Results?” I asked calmly. “Six bankruptcies? Thousands of lawsuits? A failed university? A failed airline? A failed winery?” My list could have gone on for another few minutes but I cut it off for the sake of sanity. Mine, that is.
“What about that border wall?” I asked.
“We need the wall. No doubt about it,” said a friend who lived for a time in Texas and who traveled extensively to ports of call in Central America and South America. “We need a stronger southern border and the wall will give us that. He’s going to make it happen.”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “What about his campaign promise that Mexico would pay for the wall? You want him to spend our tax dollars on this bad idea and not live up to his campaign promise and get the funds from Mexico?”
The reply: “He was never going to get the money from Mexico, we all knew that. That’s no big deal. We need the wall. And he’s only asking five billion dollars from us. Given the size of the federal budget, that’s chump change.”
“Do you understand that 5 billion is only a starting point, that it could cost as much as 25 billion?” I asked. “Plus it’s not going to deter any illegal immigrants who want to get into our country. We need to take a more comprehensive approach to border security, not just count on a concrete wall or steel slats or whatever to solve a problem. Plus, this argument that there is a national crisis on our southern border is bogus and you know it!” I nearly shouted.
“Sorry, we need the wall. Has to happen. We need to give him the money for it.”
Ended that conversation quickly before my dander got any higher.
Given that all my friends who support The Donald point to his business background as a key deciding point in voting him into office, I asked a friend who hired many folks during her career how she would have handled an employment interview with The Donald for the position of president of the United States. Would she have asked him about the bankruptcies, about the failed businesses, about the lawsuits charging him with stiffing contractors?
“No,” she honestly replied. “Those are not relevant to the presidency of a country.”
“Then what would you ask him?” I wondered aloud.
“How he would deal with foreign governments, the global financial community, staffing the executive branch of government,” she said.
I followed up: “Based on the past nearly two years of his administration would you say he has showcased the qualities needed to serve as chief executive officer of the United States?” I was sure I had her cornered on this one.
“Yes, quite well,” she replied. “He has stood up to NATO which no other president has done. He has provided the largest tax break in decades that has the economy growing quite nicely. He has provided funds to strengthen our military and make us stronger as a nation.”
Ouch, ouch and holy crap, ouch.
“What I don’t understand,” another friend argued when I relayed this conversation to him, “is why the news media only reports bad stuff about Trump. They don’t go beyond made up facts they can use to make him look bad, or they only report on his mistakes rather than all the good things he does.”
Keep in mind my conversations were held before The Donald served up a fast-food feast to the National College Football Champions Clemson Tigers, so that wasn’t part of this friend’s angst about media coverage of Trump’s accomplishments.
I asked this person who reads newspapers regularly and watches cable news shows extensively — although he’s heavy on the Fox News channel and lighter on CNN and MSNBC — to give me examples of how the media is not providing accurate coverage of The Donald.
“Well, take his visit to the troops during the Christmas season,” he said. “For months the media had been attacking him for not taking such a trip. So when he does they criticize him for pulling a PR stunt or slam him for having taken so long to show up in a battle zone, pointing out his numerous draft deferments. What the heck. He was there to boost the morale of our troops as commander-in-chief. Why the negative stuff?”
So it goes. Nearly two years of this madness, of nothing but chaos coming from The Donald’s turn as chief executive of the United States and still my friends praise him above all others.
My scalp hurts from all the head scratching. I’m counting on Special Counsel Robert Mueller to provide a legal “Head and Shoulders” shampoo of indictments leading, hopefully, to an impeachment of The Donald, to save my hair from falling out before 2020.