Donald Trump's dog whistles

Like most people - possibly even the man himself - I don't think that Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate for President in 2012.

But that doesn't mean that I can't lament the abject buffoonery of the campaign he's decided to run.  I'm not sure that his scatter shot accusations and allegations even deserve to be called a campaign.

Instead we should probably call it what it appears to be: a series of increasingly reckless dog whistles to the ultra-conservative, seemingly designed to create public stir - and possibly even incite some useful hatred? Would that be more accurate? And is that what must pass for a conservative political campaign nowadays?

Currently Trump's three main targets seem to be Muslims, gays and a Democratic president - all irresistible straw men to a certain mindset. To appeal to that mindset Trump says he has never seen the presidents birth announcement (which, by the way, also means Trump has never in his life performed a ten second Google search). Trump says Obama's hiding it (in fact, of course, he's not) because “it might say he’s Muslim."

It might also say Obama's a gay transgendered 500 year old Venusian who's arteries pump raw diesel instead of blood. It "might" say anything. That's how cynical and dangerous this idiotic conspiracy game is. But it doesn't stop there.

Trump says he also thinks there is a “Muslim problem” - oh, and a "gay problem," or rather a "gay distraction" (because gay's aren't important enough to be, you know, an actual problem).

But by pandering shamelessly to some of the most cretinous people in America, a tactic that even Bill O'Reilly believes Trump is pursuing, he's making the the GOP field look less like a serious challenge and more like a clown show, a sort of Death Match 2012 to discover who's the most reactionary conservative candidate, in the hope of boosting their standing with a deluded or demoralized base.

But why does a man who has apparently traded his own wives for newer models the way other men might replace aging motor vehicles believe he's an authority on marriage - and on who should not be allowed to get hitched? Trump has been married three times. By his own yardstick, he's been a failure.

And by suggesting the US and the entire world has a Muslim problem, whatever that's supposed to actually mean, Trump is maligning and tarring an entire international faith community, literally all of them, with one brush.

But the birther nonsense is Trump's most risible tactic of all, because the birther myth is a way to undermine and discredit without coming out and saying explicitly why. At its root the birther myth is about being ineligible: ineligible to govern, and ineligible to even run.

At its root it's also toxic racism: because the birther myth implies that this foreign, black, Muslim, un-American, lying Kenyan usurper has hoodwinked us all and he should not sit in the Oval Office, where his type most certainly do not belong.

Never mind that the president's birth certificate is a matter of public record in Hawaii. Never mind that you can read it yourself after a ten second Google search.

The birther myth is not about objective truth anyway, it's about metaphorical truth: it's about what is real but it should not be real. In that sense it's premise is utterly selfish, rather like something out of Lewis Carroll: if I don't accept him then he is not acceptable. No wonder it appeals so strongly to fundamentalists.

Of course there's a well-known word for a child who's origin is in doubt. Can it be very much longer before one of the increasingly lamentable lineup of 2012 Republican candidates decide to use it?

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