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Five Minutes to Trump

Lies and Lapses on the US Campaign Trail

Donald Trump is a proven liar. But Hillary Clinton is a flawed candidate as well. With eight weeks to go until Americans go to the polls, the prospect of a notorious charlatan moving into the White House is looking more realistic than ever.

By , , and
Thursday, 9/29/2016   05:16 PM

Perhaps it really does boil down to the name. The family comes from the town of Kallstadt in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate -- a wine-growing region of Germany with red rooftops and clean-swept streets. In their search, historians found many different variations on the name's spelling: Drumpf, Dromb, Tromb, Trum, Drumb, Tromp, Trumpff and Trumpf. None of them, though, sounds much like presidential material.

The small Friedrich, born in 1869, was a slender child of eight years when his father died. His was unable to help his mother in the vineyard and she sent him off to begin training as a hairdresser. But Friedrich didn't want to cut hair for a living, so he headed for Bremen and boarded the SS Eider. On Oct. 19, 1885, he arrived in New York. His file at the immigration authority lists him as "Friedrich Trumpf, farmer," but the "f" disappeared soon after his arrival for reasons of pronunciation.

That's how the Trumps were born.

The international community would be much more at ease today if the slim émigré from Kallstadt had brought another name along with him as he crossed the Atlantic Ocean, an awkward name like Hustekuchen, Grube, Kieselmüller or Drumpf. But Freidrich's grandson Donald Trump, 70, is named Donald Trump, and the name is both a promise and a brand.

The name sounds like that of a rock band, a neon sign, an exclamation or a craving. It's a name that promises boundless power and eternal greatness. "Make America great again! Trump."

Does a discriminating, earnest woman have a chance of prevailing over that?

Ever since Trump's Democratic Party rival Hillary Clinton collapsed after attending a 9/11 memorial service in New York and had to be helped into her van, the world has been faced with the realistic prospect that Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States.

Under normal circumstances, the man would be nothing but a joke. Whenever he feels that not everyone in a room sufficiently reveres him, he says, "I have a lot of money." When he encounters Jews, he tells them, "I'm a negotiator like you folks." He also thought it important during a television debate to ensure his audience that he didn't have a small penis.

The man should have been debunked long ago, because he's a notorious liar.

No Laughing Matter

Donald Trump says he spoke out early on against the war in Iraq. His supporters applauded him when he said those deaths wouldn't have happened under a President Trump. But it's nonsense. In 2002, radio host Howard Stern asked Trump if he supported the war. "Yeah, I guess so," Trump answered.

Crime in the inner cities of North America has "reached a record level," Trump has lamented. He continues to make this assertion all across the United States -- in all his speeches and on all the talk shows. But FBI statistics show that the crime rate is at its lowest in 25 years.

And Barack Obama is the "founder of ISIS" (Islamic State) Trump said in August and then tweeted it. Of course it outraged the Democrats, but it was also welcomed by the right-wing camp and the mainstream media barely even reacted.

Donald Trump's political ascent has long since ceased to be a laughing matter. Even though he has been exposed hundreds of times, the Trump juggernaut just keeps on going. Indeed, it's possible it may end inside the White House in eight weeks. Something astonishing has happened.

The one candidate, Clinton, isn't allowed to deceive. She has to apologize for every slip-up, no matter how minor, and any mistake she makes just refuses to go away.

Trump, meanwhile, lies and stirs up hatred and it doesn't harm him in the least. It even helps him which, of course, he understands and thus continues to operate free of any scruples.

It is precisely this incendiary speech free of inhibitions that is the Trump hallmark. His fans see his lies as the courage to tell the truth, as chutzpah, as a revolt against those at the top. From the very beginning of his campaign, he has succeeded in stylizing himself as an outsider, a challenger to the thoroughly corrupt establishment, and every desperate attempt by the establishment to counter Trump's demagogy with numbers and data is taken by them as affirmation. They're ranting at Trump? Then he must be right -- their reaction makes it clear. The facts contradict his assertions? Who's to say the facts are true?

Carried Away in Anger

There is nothing elegant about this candidate. Those who look closely, or get close to him, can hardly stand this over-tanned, bloated man with the dyed blond, comb-over hair (or toupee or whatever it is). He stands there flailing, bellowing and spitting. And his tie is always too long.

He's not even an eloquent speaker. He uses few words, he constantly loses his train of thought and seldom finds it again and he often gets carried away in anger. He'll repeat a half sentence he seems to like two or three times, but there's nothing funny or intellectual about it.

All this has led journalist and economist Paul Krugman to believe that Hillary Clinton could suffer a fate similar to that of Al Gore 16 years ago. He was the smarter, better-educated candidate, harder working and even a better speaker, but instead his opponent became president -- a man who could get away with every impudence, lie and mistake: George W. Bush.

Then as now, it has to do with the left's eternal complexes and the self-assurance of the American right. The Democrats are gentler and less likely to attack their opponent as rabidly, and they don't defend their own people as decisively as the Republicans. It also has to do with the Tea Party's hatred and that of the Republicans on the extreme right. They consider President Barack Obama and candidate Clinton to be unpatriotic simply because they are different -- as a black man and as a woman, they must be traitors.

The gender issue of course plays a role. The man, Trump, uses course language and exhibits loutish behavior. The woman, Clinton, is questioned about every step she takes. The man can look however he pleases. The woman's hairstyle, pantsuits and weight are constantly scrutinized and commented on. If you were to imagine, purely theoretically, that the behavior were reversed in these two candidates and that Trump would be as punctilious as Clinton and Clinton as vulgar as Trump, then it becomes immediately clear that Trump can only get away with acting as he likes because his is a white American man running against a woman.

Surveys might indicate that a majority of Americans may now be prepared to accept a woman as president, but the populace holds women to a stricter standard than men. That's why the seconds when Clinton lost consciousness are so disastrous. Men are tough, women are frail and delicate. The cliché of the fainting woman has long been with us in the world of literature and opera -- and it's nonsense.

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