“He says what he really thinks.” That is the standard explanation for the astounding political rise of Donald J. Trump. Somehow the news media have missed the meaning of this: that the rest of political America refuses to say what it really thinks. Why is that and how can it be?
The simple answer: they’re afraid of how it will play on television. One error of the mouth and you’re politically crucified. You’re done. Taken out with the trash. Trump’s secret is that every error of his unfiltered mouth — and the hypothetical mind connected to it — emphasizes and celebrates his liberation from that fear. Trump is like the fabled Honey Badger of YouTube fame: he doesn’t give a shit. He just forges ahead through all the biting, stinging, snapping, yapping, odious, poisonous opposition in his dogged journey to the prize. As Trump might say: they love him and he loves them (for that).
The less simple answer is that America has become a matrix of rackets based on fraud, swindling, and extortion that can only support itself on lies, which form the armature that enables all the racketeering. That explains one of the central mysteries of Mr. Obama’s double term in the White House: why his Department of Justice never prosecuted (possibly never even dared to investigate) criminal misconduct in banking after the 2008 mortgage bond debacle. The Holy Trinity of Bank Fraud: Rubin, Geithner, and Summers paid him a call after election day and said, “Look here, fucker: one false move out of you in the direction of our friends doing ‘God’s work,’ and this whole house of cards comes fluttering down.” Hence, Obama appointed the trio to positions of authority and counsel, and the racketeering resumed without hindrance — to the greater affliction upon the common weal.
The issues at stake were apparently too abstruse for the public to grasp, so they just rolled with it clear to the statute of limitations and beyond. Of course, the trouble with operations based on lies is that sooner or later reality intrudes with all its implacable wrath and you get a mighty correction impossible to ignore. That is likely to be fate’s parting gift to Barack Obama. He will go out the way he came in: amidst financial maelstrom.
As only one example of the collateral damage to all this filtering of what’s real, note a consequence of zero interest rates (a swindle designed to prop up Too Big To Fail banks): ordinary people past their working years can’t earn any income from all the traditionally safe ways of doing this: savings accounts, certificates of deposit, and bonds. Due to my advanced age, I get vast and constant rafts of mailings from an outfit called AARP pretending to be the American Association of Retired Persons. (I don’t pretend to have any intention of retiring, by the way.) Not one of these incessant messages mentions the harm being done by zero interest rates to people of modest means beyond their earning years desperate to get by. If they happen to have, say, thirty-eight thousand dollars of savings, they can’t generate enough income off it to pay for their yearly ration of ibuprofen. That’s because AARP doesn’t represent the stakes of this group. AARP is an insurance racket. AARP is a charade designed for asset-stripping the hapless.
It’s most ironic, of course, that the perceived antidote to the pandemic of lying in America is this arguably crooked real estate developer and gambling casino tycoon Trump. The grand entrance of Trump, with his unfiltered mouth, into the political arena becomes a preliminary argument for sweeping away the accumulated sclerotic political baggage of four generations lucky enough to have lived in a world that briefly allowed to fantasy to override the laws of physics and human nature. What we really ought to worry about is what follows in the foul wake of Trump, both in awful circumstance and the as-yet-unknown cast of characters who will have to grapple with it.