Alone in his bedroom on a dark and stormy night, Donald Trump was inventing some tax returns, when the devil appeared before him.
“Fear not,” the devil said. “You need not file tax returns — ever. Also, I will make sure you are elected president this year and again in 2020.
“But in return, you must sell me your soul. You must betray all decent principles. You must pander, trivialize and deceive. You must gain victory by exploiting bigotry, fear, envy and greed. And you must conduct a campaign based on lies, sham, hype and distortion.”
“So,” Trump said, “what’s the catch?”
It could have been worse. The devil could have asked Trump to prove he really had “bone spurs” that kept him out of the Vietnam draft. Or prove he knew that Crimea is part of Russia. Or prove that he knew anything about the U.S. Constitution.
The Constitution! Jeez Louise! Nobody told Trump that was going to be on the final.
And now everybody on his staff was running around screaming and shouting as if presidents had to know stuff. At the very beginning of his campaign, Trump had put together what he called his “Brain Gang,” made up of political experts (whom none of the other campaigns would hire).
A few months later, the leader of the Brain Gang would be … what’s-his-name. The guy who looked as if he combed his hair with teeth whitener. Pence. That was it. Mike Pence. Mr. Personality.
But who had vetted Pence? And speaking of vetting, they couldn’t have found a veteran to put on the ticket?
Trump went over to the World Wide Interweb machine that his kids had bought him so they wouldn’t have to answer his questions. Trump typed in: “How many veterans are there in the United States?”
The machine answered instantly: “There are 21.8 million veterans of the U.S. armed forces as of 2014, according the Census Bureau.”
In 2012, neither party had a veteran on the ticket, which was the first time since 1932. Both Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine have sons in the Marines, but the veteran on a major-party ticket most recently was John McCain in 2008. McCain, a retired Navy captain, was ridiculed by Trump for being captured by the North Vietnamese.
But here it was, 2016, and some bald guy with a round head, Khizr Khan, had taken a copy of the Constitution from his suit jacket pocket and said that Trump doesn’t know what’s in the document and that Trump has “sacrificed nothing” for his country.
Trump knew a trap when he saw one. He went over to his interweb machine and found out the Constitution could not possibly be kept in a jacket pocket. In fact, the Constitution is on display in a row of large glass cases in the rotunda of the National Archives Museum. You would need a crane to lift it.
So Khizr Khan lies, and this was one of the rare times in history that Trump had proof.
“Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over T.V. doing the same – Nice!” Trump tweeted Monday.
“This story is not about Mr. Khan, who is all over the place doing interviews,” Trump also tweeted, “but rather RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM and the U.S. Get smart!”
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos had gotten all snippy about the whole thing Sunday, asking Trump why Khan had accused Trump of sacrificing nothing for his country.
And when you think about it, not only has Trump sacrificed nothing personally to fight RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM but in his 70 years on this planet, it appears Trump has never done much, if any, public service.
This might not be so striking if not for the fact that prior public service used to be considered a prerequisite for election to the presidency.
So Stephanopoulos ran the clip of Khan denouncing Trump and then said, “He said you have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
Trump replied, “Well, that sounds — who wrote that? Did Hillary’s scriptwriters write it?”
Stephanopoulos continued: “How would you answer that father? What sacrifice have you made for your country?”
Trump’s response: “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success.”
“Those are sacrifices?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Oh, sure, I think they’re sacrifices,” Trump said.
And in a way, Trump may be correct. As to the “great structures” he has built, Trump has sacrificed almost all sense of taste, artfulness, style and creativity.
So maybe he did that deal with the devil after all.
Roger Simon is Politico’s chief political columnist. His new e-book, “Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America,” can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.