We’ve long been dazzled by grift, so we shouldn’t be surprised we found a President in Donald Trump
If you have ever asked yourself, “What the hell does anyone find to admire in Donald Trump?” rest assured, you’re not alone. How does a compulsive liar with a history of rampant fraud and serial bankruptcy, who prides himself in not reading become President of the United States? Many of us ask these questions. Daily. Many, but apparently, not enough. As we advance inexorably towards November in this pleasantly symmetrical year of 2020, the question is “Why aren’t there more of us?”
Why, instead, do so many of us remain so credulous? How did we elect this snake oil salesman to the Presidency?
A recent, relatively small development serves as a typical enough illustration for explaining why.
Last November, we learned about Trump’s new “faith advisor” Paula White and her remarkable background. A flashy, bombastic TV evangelist, White teeters dangerously near parody, more so than many others in the parade of rather deranged evangelicals Trump has at his beck and call — Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell Jr, Betsy Devos, etc. At the time of her appointment, the progressive news organization NowThis circulated a supercut highlighting some of her more bizarro proclamations and moments, which drew millions of views.
“Wherever I go, God rules!” White exclaims as she struts back and forth on stage manically in a tight red pant suit. “When I walk on White House grounds, God walks on White House grounds. I had every right and authority to declare the White House as holy ground because I was standing there and where I stand is holy.”
In the 4:30 minute video, she speaks in tongues, warns of a “demonic network” out to undermine “the calling of President Trump” and — perhaps most fantastically — concludes that “To say no to President Trump would be to say no to God.”
Let’s be honest. That all sounds delusional. And dangerous. Especially in the context of a supposedly secular democracy.
Even some cursory research reveals that White apparently possesses a fictitious doctoral degree and — like her earthly idol — a history of bankruptcy. Like most televangelists, she spends much of her time talking about money, and she assures her flock that every time they give, “something supernatural happens.” When you don’t give, however, she warns, “there are consequences.” Which makes her sound like the kind of gal God sends around in $1000 pumps with a tire iron if you’re not producing the Benjamins. Most recently, she suggested that Trump’s opponents are wielding sorcery and witchcraft against him.
She’s a grifter, a bullshitter, a 24-carat master manipulator. Arguably, she must be either delusional or sociopathic to speak the words she speaks. And yet. She now enjoys this position of power, an emblematically significant one, even if it does prove relatively powerless and limited in its impact in the near future. How?