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Friday, October 28, 2016

Since announcing his 2016 White House bid, Donald Trump has been the central focus of the campaign — by one estimate, he has garnered almost 40 percent of all election coverage on the network newscasts. Clearly, The Donald’s attempt to turn 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue into Trump White House has attracted so much attention because the candidate is seen as a Bulworthesque carnival barker who will say anything, no matter how hypocritical, factually unsubstantiated, or absurd.

Yet for all the hype he’s generated, Trump is not the only presidential hopeful willing to make utterly mind-boggling statements.

Take Hillary Clinton. Earlier this month, she said, “there can be no justification or tolerance for this kind of criminal behavior” that has been seen on Wall Street. She added that “while institutions have paid large fines and in some cases admitted guilt, too often it has seemed that the human beings responsible get off with limited consequences or none at all, even when they have already pocketed the gains.” Her campaign echoed the message with an email to supporters lauding Clinton for saying that “when Wall Street executives commit criminal wrongdoing, they deserve to face criminal prosecution.”

Clinton’s outrage sounds convincing at first — but then, audacity-wise, it starts to seem positively Trump-like when cross-referenced with campaign finance reports, foundation donations and speaking fees.

According to an Associated Press analysis, Clinton has already raked in more than $1.6 million worth of campaign contributions from donors in the same financial sector she is slamming on the campaign trail. Additionally, Clinton’s foundation took $5 million worth of donations from at least nine financial institutions that secured special deals to avoid prosecution — even as they admitted wrongdoing. The Clintons also accepted nearly $4 million in speaking fees from those firms since 2009.

Oh, and that anti-Wall Street email from Clinton’s campaign? It was authored by Clinton aide Gary Gensler, a onetime Goldman Sachs executive who later became a government official.

Then there is Jeb Bush. He recently trekked back to Tallahassee to deliver a speech portraying himself as a clean-government reformer. He asserted that before he became Florida governor, “lobbyists and legislators grew a little too comfortable in each other’s company” but he also insisted that he “refused to go along with that establishment” and “wasn’t a member of the club.”

Again, it sounds vaguely convincing, until the facts make the chutzpah involved seem positively Trump-ish.

A review of Bush’s own gubernatorial emails shows that he was very much a member of the club. He sought public policy counsel from lobbyists on everything from government contracts to medical malpractice legislation to state land purchases. Bush also approved a plan for corporate lobbyists to help his administration pass a bill exempting the state’s pension investments from Florida’s open records laws. And, of course, he is now raising presidential campaign money from lobbyists.

Bush’s speech, which bashed legislators who become lobbyists, was held at Florida State University — a school whose president had previously become a lobbyist after serving as Florida House Speaker. If all that wasn’t enough, emails show Bush’s event at FSU was arranged by the Florida Chamber of Commerce — a corporate lobbying group that has funneled cash to a political action committee backing Bush’s presidential campaign.

In these and so many other spectacles, the candidates appear to be assuming that voters will never know any context — they are assuming, in other words, that voters are goldfish who will forget their entire world every 15 minutes or so.

Trump may get all the attention for flamboyantly embodying such a cavalier attitude. However, the cynical view of the electorate — and the attendant say-absolutely-anything attitude — has now become the pervasive zeitgeist of the entire 2016 campaign.

David Sirota is a senior writer at the International Business Times and the best-selling author of the books Hostile Takeover, The Uprising, and Back to Our Future. Email him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at

Photo: Donald Trump speaks at the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Feb. 27, 2015 in National Harbor, MD. Conservative activists attended the annual political conference to discuss their agenda. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

  • judith.cedillo
    • yabbed

      flagged as spam

  • Dominick Vila

    The rise of Donald “Narcissus” Trump to the top in the Age of Selfies, should have been all but predictable. His followers are part of a movement of people who see in him the same self-adoration they practice, often manifested by threatening, insulting, and disparaging the achievements of others.
    Those who rejoice in the damage that Narcissus I is doing to the Republican party should be very cautious and restrained in their enthusiasm. The Donald is an equal opportunity employer. He is neither a conservative nor a liberal. He is the leader of a social movement focused on narcissistic idolatry, and he will crush anybody or anything that stands on his way to achieve what he believes is rightfully his.
    Running as an Independent, if the GOP rejects his bid at the nomination of the Republican party would, obviously, weaken the Republican chances in 2016, but I would not be surprised if many Democrats join his bid for the presidency as enthusiastically as so many Republicans are willing to do.

    • jmprint

      Any democrat that votes for him is fool.

      • Dominick Vila

        Any Republican that votes for him is crazy. Donald onl

  • ikallicrates

    Trump gets a lot of attention from the media because he says so many outrageous things. He’s always good for a headline. But he’s no fool. He knows what he’s doing. The more media attention Trump gets, the more voters get used to the idea of him as a legitimate candidate.

    The fact that voters see Trump as a legitimate candidate shows what voters think of politicians. They can see he’s a con man, but what politician isn’t? At least he’s honest about it, and doesn’t pretend to be a statesman.

    Is Trump electable? It’s possible. Back in 1980, a lot of people thought it was impossible for a Hollywood actor like Ronald Reagan to be elected president.

    • jmprint

      I do wonder how the religious sector feels about him. They have the swing vote. He is more of a devil’s advocate then anything else.

      • ikallicrates

        Not sure what you mean by ‘the religious sector’, but if you mean Christian fundamentalists, I’m sure they’ll be just fine with Trump because their god looks and sounds like the devil.

        • jmprint


        • David

          Guess what, I am a Christian and my God does not look like or sound like the devil.

          • ikallicrates

            I said Christian fundamentalists, not Christians. If you don’t know the difference, or claim there is no difference, I doubt you’re a real Christian.

          • David

            Christian fundamentalists have a different interpretation of the Bible than I do. However, our God is the same!

  • etta.bartlett2