Trump will al­ways be Trump

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Kath­leen Parker Colum­nist Kath­leen Parker is syn­di­cated by The Washington Post Writ­ers Group.

If Belt­way in­sid­ers and other East Coast elites ever won­dered why so many Amer­i­cans pre­fer Don­ald Trump to Hil­lary Clin­ton, all they need do is watch a re­run of Thurs­day night’s 71st an­nual Al­fred E. Smith Me­mo­rial Foun­da­tion Dinner.

There they were in their fin­ery, A-lis­ters from the once-cher­ished in­sti­tu­tions of church, state and the Fourth Es­tate — in­clud­ing the two afore­men­tioned ma­jor-party pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates; Car­di­nal Ti­mothy Dolan, the evening’s host; and, hardly least, Maria Bar­tiromo’s decol­letage. No one watch­ing could have missed the cleav­age clad in candy ap­ple red be­neath long sparkling earrings, as Bar­tiromo’s el­bow-length gloves flut­tered like white doves di­rect­ing traf­fic to the heart of things. A flick­er­ing fe­male vi­sion float­ing in the TV frame among four, dusty-white males, she ap­peared as one of those on­line ads that dis­tract read­ers as they try to con­cen­trate.

Oh, but the de­lec­ta­ble hu­mor, jar­ring jokes and quiv­er­ing quips — the tit­ters they brought to bleached smiles and know­ing nods — and all for the good of dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren for whom the dinner raised $6 mil­lion. What could be bet­ter than din­ing with a few close friends, amus­ing one­self as the fu­ture pres­i­dent and the in­evitable loser trade in­sults, as mil­lions of view­ers re­mem­ber why they hate Washington?

Homage also was paid to the dinner’s name­sake, Al Smith, the first Catholic to run for pres­i­dent of the United States and at a time (the 1920s) when Catholics were viewed as Satan’s spawn by peo­ple such as Trump’s own fa­ther, who par­tic­i­pated in a KKK-spon­sored, an­tiCatholic rally.

God bless Amer­ica, how far we’ve come.

But not really, as Trump came to re­mind the boo-and-hisser crowd. As though he cared. And, as though all the de­plorables and Trump sym­pa­thiz­ers watch­ing at home weren’t per­fectly de­lighted by Trump’s per­for­mance. To them, the dais was a dio­rama of self-con­grat­u­la­tory elites, smugly tit­ter­ing at in­sider hu­mor and then, sud­denly, be­tray­ing white-tie out­rage at their red­neck Gatsby, who hocked up his couth and hurled it into the near­est vat of Dom Perignon.

The dinner is sup­posed to be a gen­tle roast at which po­lit­i­cal foes parry a bit but al­ways with rub­ber rapiers. At­ten­dees faith­fully present them­selves as priests and priest­esses of the High­est Or­der of Ci­vil­ity, Good Hu­mor & Char­i­ta­ble Hearts. A good time is sup­posed to be had by all.

Trump knows the rules all right and even men­tioned that he’d been at­tend­ing the dinner for years, be­gin­ning when he was a young man ac­com­pa­ny­ing his fa­ther. But be­ing Trump means never play­ing by the rules.

He be­gan his re­marks well enough, look­ing rather pres­i­den­tial and cer­tainly com­fort­able in a for­mal en­vi­ron­ment bloated with swells. But Trump car­ries within him a lit­tle bit of Gol­lum mixed with a touch of Tru­man Capote. Like Gol­lum, he loathes what he loves and can’t re­sist sab­o­tag­ing him­self. Like Capote, he turns on his own. If Capote alien­ated all his “swans,” the belles of Up­per East Side New York, by be­tray­ing their con­fi­dences in “La Cote Basque, 1965,” Trump be­trayed the hopes of his pow­er­ful and wealthy col­leagues that he could be trusted to be­have.

Some of his jokes were very funny: “Af­ter lis­ten­ing to Hil­lary rat­tle on and on and on, I don’t think so badly of Rosie O’Don­nell any­more,” he said. When Clin­ton took her turn, she jabbed back with: “And look­ing back, I’ve had to lis­ten to Don­ald for three full de­bates, and he says I don’t have any stamina!”

But about mid­way through, Trump’s light­ness turned dark.

“Here she is tonight, in pub­lic, pre­tend­ing not to hate Catholics,” he said of Clin­ton, who was seated next to Dolan. (Boos.) Trump was re­fer­ring to the Wik­iLeaks email in which an ex­change among Clin­ton cam­paign staffers seemed to be con­de­scend­ing to Catholics.

He earned more boos when he said Clin­ton was so cor­rupt that she’d been kicked off the Water­gate Com­mit­tee. And, “She knows a lot about how govern­ment works. And ac­cord­ing to her sworn tes­ti­mony, Hil­lary has for­got­ten more things than most of us will ever, ever, ever know.”

Read­ing over the tran­script, the jokes don’t seem so bad — or so good. De­liv­ery really is ev­ery­thing. But watch­ing the speeches in real time, Trump’s cuts con­tained a pal­pa­ble hint of mal­ice that wasn’t present in Clin­ton’s.

To the boo­ing se­lect, Trump’s per­for­mance was the final nail in his cof­fin. But to the great “un­washed,” you can be sure, Trump was do­ing his job and stick­ing it to the elites, which is what tens of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans deeply yearn to do.

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