Friday, July 24, 2015

Donald Trump's firebrand candidacy is neither unique nor a "cancer" by Wayne Masen

Donald Trump's firebrand candidacy is neither unique nor a "cancer"
by Wayne Madsen
New York billionaire Donald Trump's firebrand campaign for the GOP presidential nomination is neither unique in American history nor is it a "cancer" as described by long shot Republican candidate, former governor Rick Perry of Texas.

Trump is, right or wrong, tapping into a disgust among a large swath of the American electorate about being taken for granted by the pundits, pollsters, focus group facilitators, and candidates themselves.

It was not long ago when another billionaire, H. Ross Perot, seeing the futility of challenging incumbent Republican president George H W Bush for the White House, ran as an independent candidate. Perot garnered 19 percent of the vote in the election and Trump has strongly hinted that he is prepared to opt for an independent candidacy if the GOP hierarchy continues to attack him as a carnival act. With the notable exception of CNN's Larry King, Perot received the same "clown act" treatment from the establishment political class and the media in 1992.

At one point in time, Perot was in a two-way race with Democratic candidate Bill Clinton with Bush pulling up with a third place position. In May 1992, Perot was running in first place in electoral vote-rich California and Texas. Perot exited the race in mid-summer after he claimed that his campaign had been infiltrated by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Bush campaign planned. Perot later rejoined the race, but the meme that he was unhinged by claiming, among other things, that Bush was planning on disrupting Perot's daughter's wedding by having rumors started that Perot's daughter, Carolyn, was a lesbian. After Perot re-entered the race, he told CBS's 60 Minutes, "I couldn't believe that anyone representing the President of the United States would stoop to these lows," a clear reference to Rove's team of gum shoe operatives. Perot said that among the Bush schemes was a plot to wiretap his office. With Perot being pained as --dare it be said? -- a conspiracy theorist, the damage was done.

After Perot re-entered the race, his poll numbers had dropped to 20 percent, from which they never recovered. Of course, Perot was right on the money on the CIA and the dirty tricks campaign against his daughter. The CIA has always been at the beck and call of Bush presidential candidacies. Langley never forgot when its single-year director, George H W Bush, saved the agency from congressional bills, which would have been vetoed in any event by President Gerald Ford, that required the CIA to obtain congressional approval before launching any covert action. Of course, responsible for the dirty tricks campaign against Perot's daughter was none other than the Bush family's in-house dirt thrower, Karl Rove.

Perot was correct in what he said about the Bush campaign. The FBI in Dallas confirmed that someone had taped Perot's phone conversations and that it was investigating. No arrests were ever made. However, the media savaged Perot over the dirty tricks claims to the point that even the television assists by Larry King and Phil Donahue were not enough.

Now it's Trump's turn in the barrel with the media and the behind-the-scenes political operatives for Jeb Bush, including Karl Rove. Even after Trump's calling out of 2008 GOP presidential candidate John McCain for his overblown Vietnam hero status, Trump has remained in first place in the low 20 percentage range, with the Koch brothers' owned-and-operated candidate Scott Walker and the Bush monarchy's designated White House heir Jeb Bush hovering at around 13 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

Twenty years before Perot's campaign, there was another upstart campaign against the status quo. America's male white working class began sporting "Archie Bunker for President" t-shirts and buttons and slapped Bunker for President bumper stickers on their vehicles. The only problem was that Archie Bunker was a fictional working class husband who lived with his family in Queens. Many southerners and westerners, suspicious about Easterners and who would be in the "Tea Party" today, actually supported a fictional New Yorker played by Carroll O'Connor. Fast forward to today and the Bunker for President phenomenon in 1972 helps explains why so many in the South and West have gone wild over Trump. Trump's New York City coarseness and "shoot from the mouth" attitude is reminiscent of Bunker and sons and daughters of the working class "Reagan Democrats" and the "Bunker for President" crowd love it.

Trump has no political star power? Guess again. In 1972, middle America supported for president a fictional TV character from Queens, New York who they identified with. Archie Bunker's accent sounded much like that of Donald Trump.
Trump's savaging of South Carolina GOP presidential contender Senator Lindsey Graham by revealing his cell phone number after Graham called Trump a "jackass," with Trump responding that Graham is an "idiot," had no effect on Trump's poll numbers. In fact, they shot up in South Carolina where practically everyone in the state is aware that Graham is a hypocritical closeted homosexual except for one person, Graham himself. When the New York-accented Trump told a rally that Graham gave him his card so Trump might arrange an appearance for Graham on Fox News, South Carolina joined Trump in the delightful moment of exposing Graham for the phony that he is. Trump's baring of Graham for all to see came a few days after Trump exposed McCain, who has been at McCain's side continuously over the years, for his bloated "war hero" record. Graham's appeal to veterans to rally with him against Trump have fallen on deaf ears. Graham has now resorted to filming a video where he destroys a number of cell phones. It is the typical "drama queen" pitch of Graham and the GOP faithful are clearly not buying it.

Reince Pribus, the Republican National Committee chairman, has told Trump to tone it down on the Mexicans. However, that caution came a few days before the escape from a Mexican maximum security prison of Joaquin Guzman Loera, aka, the narcotics kingpin "El Chapo," with the obvious connivance of senior Mexican government officials. It was El Chapo's second "assisted" escape from a maximum security prison in Mexico. When Trump said that many of those who enter the United States illegally from Mexico are criminals, rapists, and killers, he was obviously referring to the drug smugglers, paid hit men, and human trafficking coyotes who work for El Chapo's Sinaloa cartel, as well as for the rival Zetas and Gulf syndicates. This fact of life is lost on GOP candidates like Perry and Jeb Bush who have had their own dealings with the CIA-linked Mexican and Colombian drug cartels.

Far from being a "cancer," as alleged by Perry -- whose own gay exploits in Austin as governor have also been covered up -- Trump's candidacy is following in the steps of other American populist firebrands, including Perot, Ralph Nader, Alabama Governor George Wallace (who carried five states as an independent candidate in 1968), Louisiana Governor Huey Long, Bob La Follette, Socialist candidate Eugene V. Debs, Bull Moose candidate Theodore Roosevelt (who carried 6 states in 1912, a total of 88 electoral votes to the GOP incumbent William Taft's 8), twice-Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan, and even a fictional character who sounds a lot like Trump, one Archie Bunker, working man with an attitude from Queens, New York.