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Paul A Duginski
Paul A Duginski
Paul Duginski is a political cartoonist and veteran newspaper staff artist. He enjoys reading history, literature and going bodyboarding whenever he has time.


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Posted in Politics / Elections / National


Aug. 7, 2017 3:37 pm
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As President Trump begins his first week of vacation and Washington slows a bit for the dog days of August, it’s worth taking stock of where we are.

Part of the reason Trump is away from Washington is that the West Wing is being renovated.

Trump, of course, criticized President Obama for taking time off, away from the White House, and it’s too tempting to call him out for his hypocrisy. Trump’s regular weekend trips to his various resorts, including expensive visits to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, overwhelm the time Obama took off in terms of cost to the taxpayers. Moreover, there’s the ethical problem of presidential promotion of vacation and golf properties that simultaneously enrich Trump.

Trump regularly attacked Obama for playing golf. For example, here’s one of his tweets from October 2014: “Can you believe that, with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf.”

The truth is that, according to PolitiFact, as of August 1, Trump has played golf 21 times compared with 11 times for Obama at the same point in his presidency. That’s nearly twice as much time on the links.

You would think that the truth would make a normal, honest person shut up and sit down — or at least have the grace to color. But not Donald Trump.

Not Donald Trump.

That’s because Trump is a flagrant liar. I think it isn’t so much a matter of not being able to distinguish fact from fiction, I think that with Trump the truth simply doesn’t matter.

When Bill O’Reilly interviewed Trump on Sunday, Feb. 5, he shrugged off the fact that Vladimir Putin is a stone-cold killer and a war criminal. As if the truth about Putin, vis-a-vis other countries, didn’t matter one bit.

Trump is not only a liar, he’s a delusional demagogue who (probably knowingly) ladles out simplistic solutions to his cheering, ingenuous base regardless of whether those solutions are in any way supportable by facts. He says whatever they want to hear, and the feedback is the applause that Trump craves. Once thus unified with his base crowd as “us,” it is possible to attack “them.” The “them” may be undocumented immigrants who are taking jobs from “us,” or it may be a mainstream press whom he accuses of spreading “fake news” with the motive of undermining “us” or delegitimizing “us.” Yet, Trump’s “birther” attacks on President Obama take the cake for being fake news designed to undermine the legitimacy of a sitting president.

Like those in darker chapters of world history, Trump’s bullying, dictatorial style has focused on scapegoats, such as a particular religious or ethnic and/or racial minority.

He tapped into a vein of misogynistic hatred of Hillary Clinton. She was the representative of some hated “them” during the campaign, and Trump still tries to resurrect her as a bogey and villain — even though the campaign is long over with.

Trump isn’t just a liar, he’s a nihilist. Truth doesn’t matter to him and he rejects all semblance of moral principles. He does and says what makes him feel good at the moment, or that which generates the applause that he craves for the moment, regardless of the damage his words may do or their incitement to violence. Applause at all cost. In that respect he may be the neediest president we’ve ever had.

Trump wants applause to aggrandize himself. He has enough money and he has never known want. Obviously, something is missing in his life, something of which he is acutely and perhaps secretly aware, and only high praise seems to fill his need. It doesn’t even matter to Trump that his populist base is duped — they applaud and support him even while he takes a meat ax to their healthcare program. That’s because they don’t matter to him, either. Nothing matters, only applause.

We can hope that during the White House renovations this month that a moral compass will be installed in the West Wing. But even if there was one, Donald Trump would pay it no heed.

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