By Bill Press
Tribune Media Services
Among all the wicked tongues of Washington, D.C., there has never been a sharper one than that of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Teddy’s first daughter. It was she who said of President Harding: “Harding was not a bad man, he was just a slob.” And she who famously described Calvin Coolidge: “He looks as though he’s been weaned on a pickle.”
But my favorite Alice Roosevelt Longworth line was the one she had embroidered on a soft pillow in her salon: “If you can’t say something good about someone, sit right here by me.” Which is why I’d like to sit alongside her today and talk about Donald Trump. Honestly, I can’t think of one good thing to say about him.
The fact that anybody would take Trump seriously as a presidential candidate is a monumental national embarrassment. Talk about the dumbing down of American politics. First, Sarah Palin. Then, Michele Bachmann. Now, Donald Trump? How low can you go?
Yet Trump is the new media sensation. In the last couple of weeks, he’s been interviewed (more like slobbered over) on “Good Morning America,” “Today,” NBC News, CNN, “The View,” Bill O’Reilly, Geraldo Rivera, and “Fox and Friends” (weekly), among many other shows. Trump is everywhere you look, and he only talks about one issue: Obama’s birth certificate.
It’s bad enough that networks devote any airtime to this issue. It’s worse that they give Trump airtime to spout such nonsense about it. He accuses Obama of never releasing his birth certificate. That’s a lie. The Obama campaign posted it online, for the whole world to see, on June 13, 2008. He says even Hawaiian officials question its authenticity. That’s a lie. Hawaii health department officials examined the document and declared it “a valid Hawaii state birth certificate.” He says nobody remembers growing up with Obama in Hawaii. That’s a lie. Obama’s been photographed playing golf with former schoolmates.
Now Trump says Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie claims he was in the room when Obama was born. That’s another lie. Abercrombie, who attended the University of Hawaii with Obama’s father, merely confirmed he was in Honolulu when baby Barack was born — yet saw him for the first time, with Obama’s parents, just a couple of days later. And does Trump really believe — does anyone really believe? — that the birth announcements in two Honolulu papers were part of a conspiracy to enable a newborn Kenyan to run for president of the United States someday?
Trump is equally clueless on other issues, when anyone bothers to check. On gas prices, for example, he’s offered two solutions. One, simply tell OPEC to lower the price of a barrel of oil. When asked why the Saudis would listen to him when they’ve ignored the very same request from other presidents, he insists that he has more “brain power.”
His second proposal is to seize Iraq’s oil fields and take home all the crude. This would not be stealing, he insists, but simply taking what is rightfully ours after having liberated the country. But nowhere does Trump suggest how many soldiers it would take, nor how much money it would cost, to re-invade and occupy Iraq. And, while he’s at it, Trump said he would seize Libya’s oil fields, too.
On domestic issues, Trump is a moving target, depending on the needs of the moment. He used to be a Democrat, now he’s a Republican. He used to be pro-choice, now he’s pro-life. In February 2000, he gave an interview to The Advocate supporting equal benefits for same-sex couples and allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Now he’s against both. In fact, he’s such a strong supporter of traditional marriage that he’s had three of them, including a messy public affair with Marla Maples, who later served briefly as wife number two.
But nobody cares because Donald Trump is a brilliant businessman who’s never filed for bankruptcy. Oh, really? True, he’s never (BEGIN ITALICS) personally (END ITALICS) filed for bankruptcy. But his casino operations have filed Chapter 11 three times, while Trump continued to collect his $2 million annual paycheck. His only business specialty is getting his name slapped in gold letters at the top of buildings other people build and pay for.
Fortunately, the name Trump will never be engraved on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. As Alice Roosevelt Longworth might say: Trump’s bad comb-over alone would disqualify him for the White House.
© 2011 Tribune Media Services, Inc.