December 18th, 2018


Donald Trump and the Man Who Would Be Howard Beale

Bernard Goldberg

By Bernard Goldberg

Published July 18, 2016

Donald Trump and the Man Who Would Be Howard Beale

It's a safe bet, I think, that most of you have never heard of Charles Pierce. If you haven't, consider yourself lucky. Charles Pierce, technically, is an opinion journalist. But mostly he's an angry liberal partisan who revels in showing off his nastiness. Something terrible must have happened to Charlie along the way, perhaps when he was a small defenseless child, because no one could turn out to be so vile by mere bad luck alone. In fairness, he's not always nasty. Sometimes he's only ridiculous.

Like the time he wrote a magazine piece about one of his liberal heroes, Senator Ted Kennedy. Here's a line from it that would be funny, in a dark way, if he weren't serious. "If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age."

Priceless! Teddy Kennedy would have brought comfort to Mary Jo if only she had reached her 60s, but she didn't because Kennedy drove off a bridge and left her to die a horrible death in his car while he swam to shore trying to figure out how the crime he had just committed wouldn't derail his political career.

Congratulations, Charlie. Your homage to Senator Kennedy may include the stupidest paragraph ever written in the English language.

Now, Charlie is at it again. This time he has Donald Trump - and everyone who doesn't think Donald Trump is Hitler - in his sights.

Pierce is agitated because Donald Trump said there were "some people" who called for a moment of silence for Micah Johnson, the man who killed five police officers in Dallas.

Charlie Pierce has every right to call out Trump on what may be yet another statement by the candidate that isn’t entirely true. While news organizations could find no person of any importance who called for a moment of silence — let alone “some people” –there were several (maybe only two) people who posted comments on social media about a moment of silence for Johnson. In a country of more than 300 million people, two people on social media can say anything. But should a man running for president make a big deal out of something that small? In any case, Pierce isn’t content to simply say Trump got it wrong — or that he exaggerated.

Trump's “some people” statement is proof enough for Pierce that Donald Trump is "no longer [just] a goofy guy with three wives and a ferret on his head, a freak candidate who devoured an incredible passel of unpopular lightweights on his way to a freak nomination."

No longer is Trump "just a vessel for the barely camouflaged rage and fear of an aging white American majority terrified of so many barbarians at so many gates."

No. Now Donald Trump is a Nazi. Now, Charlie Pierce writes in Esquire, "... we hear clearly the echoes of shiny black boots on German cobblestones."

This might have been provocative if it weren't the 10,000th time a liberal compared Trump to Hitler. By now, it's a cliché. A better writer would have known that and fought the temptation.

But this is just the opening salvo. There's a lot more in Pierce's garbage bag of venom for anybody and everybody who wouldn't put Donald Trump in a car and drive him off a bridge so he could suffocate and drown. (Cheap shot? Maybe. Fortunately, I don't care.)

"Damn the delegates who will vote for this man, the sanctimonious Mr. Pierce tells us. "Damn the professional politicians who will fall in line behind him. ... Damn the four hopeless sycophants [this was before Trump picked Mike Pence as his vice presidential candidate] who want to share a stage with him for four months. Damn all the people who will come here [to Cleveland] and speak on his behalf. Damn all the thoughtful folk who plumb his natural appeal for anything deeper than pure hatred."

Hang on. Charlie Pierce playing Howard Beale isn't finished telling us that he's mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

"Damn all the people who will vote for him, and damn any progressives who sit this one out because Hillary Rodham Clinton is wrong on this issue or that one. Damn all the people who are suggesting they do that. And damn all members of the media who treat this dangerous fluke of a campaign as being in any way business as usual. Any support for He, Trump, is at this point, an act of moral cowardice. Anyone who supports him, or runs with him, or enables his victory, or even speaks well of him, is a traitor to the American idea."

Memo to Charlie: Take a deep breath. Then take your meds. After that, take a nap - a very long nap.

But it isn't only borderline psychopaths like Charles P. Pierce who think this way. So do run-of-the mill lefties whose letters get published in their school newspaper, The New York Times.

On the day Donald Trump picked his VP candidate, the Times ran several letters on the subject. One said Governor Pence "is not merely right wing; he's cruel and racist and uncaring. But then, isn't that what today's Republican Party is all about?” Another said Mike Pence "has the personality, the charisma and the star wattage of a rutabaga."

Remember, this is from the crowd (not just the letter writers but the Times’ editors too) that is better, smarter and mostly morally superior to conservatives. Just ask them.

It's no secret that more than a few Republicans (at least as of now) can't bring themselves to support Donald Trump. John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, probably won't even attend the GOP Convention, which is being held in his own state, such is his distaste for Trump.

But if there's anything that might change the minds of Republicans who don't like Donald Trump, if there's anything that might move them over, however reluctantly, to the Trump camp, it may turn out to be … liberal sanctimony, the kind Charlie Pierce and the holier-than-thou letter writers to the New York Times have fine tuned to a stomach turning state of near perfection.

Liberal smugness is never attractive. But it is always annoying. And before this is over, it may prove to be a kind of magnet - one that draws reluctant Republicans to, yes, Donald Trump.

I can picture the bumper sticker: Charlie Pierce (and smug libs in general) convinced me to vote for Donald

If that happens, there won't be enough meds in all of North America to calm the man who would be Howard Beale.

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