I think it is time to face facts and imagine what life would be like under a Donald Trump presidency.
I admit the thought is terrifying.
What if he were president today and had just gotten news that a series of deadly explosions had occurred throughout Brussels, leaving at least 30 dead and more than 230 wounded, and that the Islamic State group had claimed responsibility?
“Everybody just calm down,” we could tell ourselves. “President Trump can handle this. He could have a bunch of his thugs go through the streets and beat up everybody who looks Muslim. Or else he could build a wall around Belgium. No matter what he does, however, he will show the same calm, measured, mature behavior that he showed during his election campaign.”
Now I’m getting terrified again.
Ask yourself a serious question: Could Donald Trump handle the presidency? I mean really handle it — not just wave his hands, run about, scream and shout.
Fortunately, the American people will get to decide this by casting ballots. Don’t be fooled by those countdown clocks that you see; the election has not taken place yet!
It just feels as if it has.
A couple of days ago, CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Hillary Clinton whether Trump is qualified to be president.
“I think it’s important to listen to what he says,” Clinton replied. “He has been engaging in bigotry and bluster and bullying.”
And then she got really serious. “I think his incitement of violence, his constant urging on of his supporters in large numbers to go after protesters, his saying ‘I want to punch people in the face’ and telling somebody who did punch somebody ‘I will pay your legal bills’ — I think that raises very serious questions,” Clinton, who has a certain flair for understatement, said.
And Cooper asked the question that many are now asking: Sure, Trump acts like a dope on TV. Sure, he says absurd things. But isn’t that just part of his act? He’s a showman! If he were to get in the Oval Office, he would measure up to the job, wouldn’t he?
“You’ve known him for a long time,” Cooper said. “Is there a different Donald Trump in there?”
(Hiding in all that hair, perhaps.)
“Who knows?” Clinton replied. “Calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, saying John McCain was not a war hero, being reluctant to denounce the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke — and the list goes on.”
Is Trump a real person or just an act? Or does he no longer know the answer to that himself?
It is said that Trump’s popularity stems from an angry nation. People are sick of government, so they are turning to dangerous clowns such as Trump as a cure.
This anger with government did not come from nowhere. Republican leaders have preached it for decades. “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help,'” Ronald Reagan said in speech after speech.
Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, became famous for saying: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” A million laughs, that guy.
The Republicans have become the party of doom and gloom. The Democrats are hoping they can sell themselves as the party of hope. “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America,” Bill Clinton said in his first inaugural address on Jan. 20, 1993.
And you get to choose between the two parties. Really. You get to cast a ballot and everything. I think that when we get to November, it will be Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton, though there are other possibilities.
Clinton is not without her flaws. I have written about them. I think her desire for privacy has become a mania. Storing her emails as secretary of state on a private server at her home was a very serious error in judgment. But she has said: “That was a mistake. I’m sorry about that. I take responsibility.”
I’d like to see Trump take responsibility for his behavior when it comes to inciting violence.
This is a recent exchange between Trump and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, with Blitzer examining Trump’s suggestion that there could be riots if he were not to get the Republican nomination.
“There could very well be riots,” Trump said.
“Will you unequivocally say to your supporters you don’t want any violence — you don’t want any riots at the convention?” Blitzer said.
“Of course I would, 100 percent,” Trump said. “But I have no control over the people.”
Wait. What? So Trump takes no responsibility for his words?
“These people have been disenfranchised; they lost their jobs; they make less money now than they made 12 years ago,” Trump said. “They’re not, by nature, angry people, but I will tell you, right now they’re angry people.”
But you could say the same thing about terrorists around the world, something Trump doesn’t seem to appreciate.
The American people have “been misled by politicians for years, and they’re tired of it,” Trump went on. “And that’s why I’m doing so well, and it’s why I’m leading.”
Today Trump leads. He can smell victory from way up there on top of the tiger. But as the ancient proverb goes, “he who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount.”
And once he does dismount, Hillary Clinton might make a snack out of him.
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 Web page at www.creators.com.
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Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) afternoon general session in Washington March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts