Trump Is a Charlatan

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“There’s a sucker born every minute,” said P.T. Barnum (1810-1891), the Donald Trump of the 19th century. These days suckers cluster on the right.

Conservatives love the idea of Donald Trump — a D.C. outsider who doesn’t care about political correctness and says what people are thinking but are afraid to say, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said the other day.

But Mr. Trump himself is a narcissist, all bluster and no substance, Mr. Jindal continued. “It’s silly to argue policy with this guy. He has no idea what he is talking about. He makes it all up on the fly.”

When his ignorance is exposed, Mr. Trump responds with bullying and name calling.

The distinction between Hamas, a Palestine-based Sunni Muslim terror group affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State group, and Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based terror group affiliated with Iran, is important. A president should know it. When a question asked early this month by commentator Hugh Hewitt revealed that Mr. Trump didn’t, he attacked Mr. Hewitt as a “third-rate radio talk show host” who asked “gotcha” questions.

Mr. Hewitt asked essentially the same questions of outsider candidates Carly Fiorina, who answered them easily, and Ben Carson, who struggled but didn’t blame Mr. Hewitt for his lack of knowledge.

Mr. Trump is a misogynist who says coarse and demeaning things about women. For leftists, rudeness is a political weapon. They like to bully, and most of them can’t make logical, fact-based arguments for the policies they advocate. But boorishness is not a conservative value.

Donald Trump is no conservative. He’s contributed more to Hillary Clinton than to any other politician. He’s supported abortion on demand, national health insurance and gun control. He was for bailing out the big banks whose reckless lending was a root cause of the Great Recession. His call for higher taxes on higher incomes has been embraced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

“Trump University,” in which The Donald promised to show how to get rich quick in real estate, was a scam, say former students who are seeking more than $40 million in restitution.

“He’s the biggest phony in the world, yet people as gullible as me think he’s the greatest guy in the world,” said Bob Guillo, who told The Washington Post he spent $34,995 for little more than meaningless certificates of completion and a photo of himself with a life-size image of Mr. Trump.

Those on the right who are quick to denounce as “RINOs” genuine conservatives for deviating from what they consider to be “true conservatism” overlook or forgive Mr. Trump his much greater, far more frequent apostasies.

Evidently they can’t tell the differences between Trump the Act and the real Donald Trump. And when conservatives point them out, Trumpkins accuse them of selling out to the GOP establishment, of secretly supporting Jeb Bush.

The act is magnificent. Mr. Trump is the greatest showman of our era. He’s especially adept at manipulating a news media that highlights celebrity over substance. (The broadcast networks have devoted more attention to Mr. Trump’s hat than to the records of the Republicans running for president.)

But “dealing with Trump as a conservative is like dating a hot, crazy stripper who keeps eyeing your wallet that’s sitting on the bureau,” said columnist Kurt Schlichter.

The Trump boomlet is fueled by rage at an arrogant, corrupt, incompetent ruling class — conservatives rage especially at the supine and clueless GOP “leaders” in Congress who have barely tried to resist the Obama administration’s assaults on the Constitution and the rule of law.

An indication of the depth of that rage is that the only candidate close to Mr. Trump in the polls is another outsider, Ben Carson.

The fate of the republic hinges on whether more people see through Trump the Act. Fortunately, rage is an emotion difficult to sustain. A hopeful sign is that in a New York Times poll last Tuesday, Dr. Carson — the opposite of The Donald in both temperament and substance — has moved to within a statistical tie with him. 

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

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