The so­cial­ist and The Don­ald

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION - kath­leen­parker@wash­

Stranger things have hap­pened in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, but the sud­den surge of Demo­cratic/pop­ulist Bernie San­ders and Repub­li­can/pom­pulist Don­ald Trump puts one in mind of al­ter­nate uni­verses. And I don’t mean Miss Uni­verses. Both men are hold­ing sec­ond place in some polls be­hind Hil­lary Clin­ton and Jeb Bush, re­spec­tively. And both are steadily ascending in the polls at a greater pace than any­one could have pre­dicted — or imag­ined.

San­ders, a so­cial­ist run­ning on a plat­form that should send shivers up the spines of most Amer­i­cans, drew his largest crowd of the sea­son — nearly 10,000 — in Madi­son, Wis., last Wed­nes­day night. The anti-es­tab­lish­ment can­di­date, who wants to break up big banks and re­dis­tribute wealth, makes Pres­i­dent Obama (and Clin­ton) look like rob­ber barons by com­par­i­son.

Although Madi­son is a lib­eral col­lege town and San­ders’s record crowd could be ra­tio­nal­ized ac­cord­ingly, poll af­ter poll shows him clos­ing the gap with Clin­ton. A Quin­nip­iac Univer­sity poll re­leased Thurs­day morn­ing put him within 19 points of Clin­ton among likely Demo­cratic cau­cus-go­ers in Iowa. Quin­nip­iac sur­veyed 761 likely Iowa Demo­cratic cau­cus par­tic­i­pants, with hu­mans call­ing cell and land phones, and with a mar­gin of er­ror of 3.6 per­cent­age points.

Mean­while, A WMUR/CNN Gran­ite State poll put San­ders just 8 points be­low Clin­ton in New Hamp­shire.

As San­ders re­marked in Madi­son upon see­ing the throng that greeted him, “Whoa.”

At the same time San­ders is on the zoom rail, mys­te­ri­ous things are hap­pen­ing around the can­di­dacy of the Trump­ster. Some of you may rec­og­nize him as the car­toon char­ac­ter eter­nally lost in a game of Mo­nop­oly, sort of the way Beetle­juice was con­fined to a minia­ture grave­yard in the movie of the same name. (No mat­ter what hap­pens, do not say “Trump!” thrice in a row.)

He is oth­er­wise known for: the build­ings he has named af­ter him­self; a cou­ple of TV shows he has hosted, the names of which es­cape me now; his hair, which he re­cently averred is his own; his vast for­tune, about which he can’t stop brag­ging — and a pro­por­tion­ately small mouth for some­one fa­mous for hav­ing such a big one.

To wit: His re­cent com­ments about Mex­i­can im­mi­grants as rapists, drug run­ners and crim­i­nals. And, he added, “some, I as­sume, are good peo­ple.”

Why, there’s a good one right over there — mow­ing Trump’s Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago es­tate lawn. “Hola, Paco, que tal?”

Trump’s in­sult­ing tirade has had the dual ef­fect of get­ting him fired from NBCU niver­sal, Univi­sion and Macy’s (and count­ing) for com­ments un­be­com­ing an icon and get­ting him feted as the Icon­o­clast that Repub­li­cans have been wait­ing for. If you’re a mem­ber of the Repub­li­can base, a can­di­date can’t be too anti-immigration, too anti-Com­mon Core — or too rich, ap­par­ently.

Even as Trump’s var­i­ous en­ter­prises are van­ish­ing — and sup­port among, I dunno, let’s call them “sane Amer­i­cans” is wan­ing — he has dou­bled down on com­ments that could as easily have been re­tracted with an apol­ogy. Here’s a sam­ple for fu­ture ref­er­ence: “Of course, I didn’t mean that all Mex­i­cans are rapists. I was up­set by some of the sta­tis­tics I’ve read and just mouthed off with­out more care­fully con­sid­er­ing the full im­pact my words could have on oth­ers. I’m sorry.” ( Warn­ing: Do not add: Some of my best friends are Mex­i­can.)

But no. In­stead, com­ment­ing on a 2014 Fu­sion ar­ti­cle about Latin Amer­i­can women be­ing raped as they trav­eled to the United States across Mexico, “Well, some­body’s do­ing the rap­ing, Don!” he re­torted when CNN an­chor Don Le­mon gave him a chance to think things through. “I mean, some­body’s do­ing it!” Trump said. “Who’s do­ing the rap­ing? Who’s do­ing the rap­ing?”

Trump has a point there. Some­one is do­ing the rap­ing, as­sum­ing the Fu­sion story is true. And the same Fu­sion story that claimed that 80 per­cent of Cen­tral Amer­i­can women and girls are raped as they cross through Mexico to the United States also an­swered Trump’s ques­tion: “Per­pe­tra­tors can be coy­otes, other mi­grants, ban­dits, or even gov­ern­ment author­i­ties.”

Hmmm, so not nec­es­sar­ily those who then fun­nel into North Amer­ica?

See? Logic isn’t so hard, but rant over rea­son is so much more ef­fec­tive in at­tract­ing at­ten­tion.

Trump’s fans say they like his blunt talk, that he says what they’re think­ing. He’s BOLD! In­deed. But bold and blunt wear thin af­ter a while.

And the United States, though keen to hear fresh voices and ideas, isn’t ready for ei­ther a Robin Hood or a King John in the White House.

En­joy the show, ev­ery­body. But rest as­sured: This too— and these two— shall pass.

Like Beetle­juice, no mat­ter what hap­pens, do not say “Trump!” thrice in a row.


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