It's pretty easy to write a column about how horrifically awful Donald Trump is -- not just as a candidate for the presidency, but just in general. But I'm not sure if I want to write about him every single day. Though I probably could. And given the importance of an election for the presidency of the United States, it's not necessarily a bad idea. But every once in a while, I think it's good to have a change of pace. So, I was hoping to write about something different today.
It was tough to do, given all the potential Trump stories. Like, his bizarre press conference in Scotland on the day of the Brexit vote when the world economy went into a meltdown and the British Prime Minister resigned, saying this could mean more tourists to his golf course. Or how the amount of money his campaign has raised is so bizarrely paltry. Or how reports show that about 10% of the money his campaign has spent has gone to his own properties, facilities or family. Or how in the midst of a presidential race he's decided to take a trip to Scotland to view one of his golf courses there. Or how the latest polls show Hillary Clinton's lead over him steadily increasing, now some up to double-digits. Or the epic rant Mark Cuban just made about Trump which included such ethereal comments as, "It’s rare that you see someone get stupider before your eyes, but he’s really working at it. You have to give him credit. It’s a difficult thing to do, but he’s accomplished it" -- and "Let’s look at it this way: Name one good deal he’s done/ When he talks about his great renegotiations, they’re renegotiations, so tell me if you think this is a good deal: I lose four casinos, they go out of business, but I’m really good at renegotiating the debt of his companies that have already gone out of business" -- and "At some point, you’ve got to start learning and understanding the issues, you know? Donald has been at this a year but you don’t look at him and say, 'Wow, he’s gotten so much smarter on this topic or that topic.' In fact, you look at him and say, 'What the hell are you talking about?’ That’s not good for America.”
So, I started preparing pieces instead on Gov. Paul LePage (R-ME) who had a hissy fit when he was told he couldn't pick-and-chose what people on food stamps could buy and so threatened to shut down the program in Maine -- basically eliminating the concept of how Republicans want to keep the government out of peoples' lives. Or how everything has been going terribly wrong for Brazil as it prepares to host the Olympics, including its economy becoming shaky and its president having been impeached -- and then in the torch relay, a jaguar being used to help promote the event got loose from its handler and had to be shot and killed, and a paralympic athletic was robbed at gunpoint in Rio. Or how even though 20 million more Americans have health care coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the country is on track to spend 2.6 trillion less by 2019 since the law was enacted.
And yet, in the end I still have to come back to Donald Trump. Because the inanity of one of his comments reached Trumpian levels.
In a speech to evangelicals, Donald Trump (R-Trump Towers) questioned the religious beliefs of Hillary Clinton and then President Obama, hinting that neither may even be Christians --
“She’s been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there’s no, nothing out there. There’s like nothing out there. It’s going to be an extension of Obama, but it’s going to be worse, because with Obama you had to have your guard up. With Hillary you don’t and it’s going to be worse.”
This is ghastly for several reasons.
First, Secretary Clinton is long on record about her religious beliefs, and has even said that she caries a Bible in her purse.
Second, Donald Trump seems to be perhaps the least-religious man who has ever run for the presidency and sounds like an ignorant pandering clod when discussing religion (like when he infamous and incorrectly quoted from "Two.Corinthians," rather than "Second Corinthians" and asked, "Is that the one you like? I think that's the one you like"). Most likely, he is taking a page out of the traditional GOP playbook and attack your opponent about your own biggest weakness.
And third -- and most importantly by far -- religion has absolutely no place in a political race. Zero. While I know that it's a fool's wish to think it will disappear, since religion does play a part, that part is pretty much exclusively played by those outside the arena attacking those in it. When candidates address religion it's pretty much always to pat themselves on the back for being holier than thou. But for a candidate of any office -- especially the presidency of the United States -- to try and make a litmus test of religion is about as un-American think as there is, striking at the core right of Freedom of Religion.
I say "try and make," because the attempt will not only fail but fail miserably, and if it gains any traction, it will be solely as a means of backfiring on Donald Trump, not just for his silly, childish petulance at his idiotic charge, but for shining the spotlight back on himself and his own standard of devotion.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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