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September 22nd, 2017

Insight

Trump's world, and the simple secret of how it is made

Paul Greenberg

By Paul Greenberg

Published June 8, 2016

There is an old story about a traveler who, as he passes through a tiny town out West, notices something strange: Everywhere he looks, he sees targets pasted up with bullet holes in their exact center. A bull's eye every time! "Who is this expert marksman?" he asked of one of the few pedestrians he spotted on its dusty streets, which remained undisturbed except by an occasional batch of tumbleweed following in his footsteps. "Oh, that's the work of the village idiot," he was told. "He comes through every morning shooting up everything in sight, then comes back toward the evenin' time and draws a target 'round every bullet hole."

The other day, Donald Trump came through the usual media scrum to boil down his entire environmental policy to two points: Clean air and clean water. No diagrams, charts and graphs to get in the way. No windy pronunciamentos from distinguished delegates from Kyoto to Copenhagen who have just spent a fortune -- of other people's money, naturally -- on jet fuel without making a bit of difference in the world's climate, yet claim their conclave was a great success.

Meanwhile, old Mother Nature has gone on her not always merry way, paying no mind to us mere mortals, even if we're hotshots at the United Nations or in Washington. Or even the kind of experienced fraudsters who compile perfectly symmetrical proofs like those fabricated hockey-sticks. Which is not the way Nature works or has ever worked. Her hallmark is the asymmetrical; it's man's that is as neat as a city grid.

Yet our bien-pensant still find it easier to dismiss The Donald's simple, even simplistic, arguments than to discredit them. Condescension, not common sense, remains their stock in trade. His brevity trumps their loquacity every time. But doubt them, and you're asked, as old Groucho would put it, "Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?"

What have the current powers that be done for us? Besides handing Tesla generous subsidies, or distributing up to $100 billion in research grants on climate control without controlling the climate and setting the stage for notorious bankruptcies of government-financed corporations like Solyndra? Consider the pseudoscientists who long assured us that fracking is (a) impossible and (b) a clear and present danger. Meanwhile, our masterminds in Washington have sought to kill our own Keystone XL pipeline while encouraging the mullahs in Teheran to open the oil spigot as wide as she'll go.

One suspects that The Donald's real sin is his habit of shooting down the administration's fish-in-a-barrel arguments. No, that's not very sporting, but Mr. Trump has never pretended to be a gentleman. Hillary Clinton has been pretending to be a lady at least since she was making an obscene profit by having somebody else fix commodity trades for her benefit. Now she's proving she can call names with the best, or rather worst, of them.

Oh, yes, she says Mr. Trump is one of those nasty male chauvinists. And he no doubt is. He doesn't deny it. The Donald may be only the guy on the next barstool, but he's never pretended to be anything else. Indeed, he glories in it. Which, if nothing else, is a change from politics as usual.

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Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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