Last week, Donald Trump and his family spoke with CNN’s Anderson Cooper about the campaign, about Donald as father and husband, about their familial bond.
The takeaway was obvious: This is a solid, close, poised, articulate family.
Were there talking points between the fond reminiscences? Sure.
Was there an air of the rehearsed? Sure again.
But not on Donald’s part. He listened to his wife and daughters and sons, sitting quietly, a man confident in his closest circle. Donald Trump in repose is a rare sight, but there he was—at peace with himself and his loved ones.
For one human moment, Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency seemed secondary.
Last night Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders in the New York primary after a rough battle across the state. Standing next to the victor during her thank-you speech was a member of Hillary’s family, husband Bill, beaming.
He may respect his wife, he may even love her, still, but what he loves most is politics, what gives him the greatest charge is victory. The same holds true for his wife; in this way the Clintons are a most-compatible couple.
Their cold celebratory kiss, the way Hillary patted Bill on the back three times as if embracing a close friend, reveals the truth: passion has been replaced by business and, for Hillary, too often the business of politics, the need to win, trumps true passion and principle.
At least Bill’s smile is genuine—he loves the limelight, as Hillary readily admitted, calling him the natural politician in the family. Hillary’s smile always looks unnatural, put on. But maybe this is her real smile. Maybe she’s played the pandering politician so long, the actor has become the character.
Of course, Donald Trump has more than a touch of caricature in his persona. He’s a bloviating self-promoter, as transparent as P.T. Barnum — the things he does are the best and most successful, the people he knows are the brightest and most powerful, his “deep thinking” is spectacular, his negotiation skills without compare.
We get it, Donald. You’re the greatest. But there’s a core of truth to his bluster. He has plugged into something, a disgust with the system, a disdain for all things politically correct.
Donald Trump says what, sadly, too many people think.
Let’s be honest — we’ve all had moments where we wanted to punch somebody in the nose. Is it presidential to say so? No. But is it human?
I was fortunate enough to see Hamilton, a show that roused patriotism in even the most cynical.
For me, the moral to that story was clear: Choose the person over the policy.
When it came time to throw his support behind Aaron Burr or Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton chose the man who was true to himself, whose character was consistent, even if his policies were not consistent with Hamilton’s.
Thomas Jefferson went on to become a pretty good president.
I don’t like Trump’s policies. I don’t like Trump’s personality.
But Donald Trump has always been Donald Trump. Just as Bernie Sanders has always been Bernie Sanders. Just as Hillary Clinton has not always been Hillary Clinton, her every line, smile, and gesture practiced and studied.
If Trump wins the GOP nomination—and if he doesn’t there will be hell to pay for the Republican Party — and if Sanders does not win the Democratic nomination, which he probably won’t after New York’s results, it will be Donald Trump battling Hillary Clinton for president.
As Donald says, he hasn’t even started on Hillary.
As Donald boasts, when Bill Clinton hit him, he hit back hard and silenced the usually glib ex-president. I like many of Hillary’s policies. I don’t like her. But even her policies are questionable, possibly put-on.
If it weren’t for Bernie, Hillary would never have used the word progressive — her campaign now rests on a foundation that Bernie built.
And there are other questions that surround Hillary, questions about character, questions about consistency. Forget her emails. Why won’t she release the transcripts of her Goldman Sachs speeches?
Why does she continue to take money from Super PACs? What about all those super delegates in Hillary’s ledger? What about the way the DNC scheduled debates before Bernie became a real threat?
Something’s rotten in the state of the Democrats and Hillary, their darling, is tainted.
I’m a writer. I’m a teacher. I’m a liberal. If I had to define myself, I’d say I’m the kind of socialist Bernie Sanders wants us all to be. I’m a New Yorker. I’ve voted Democratic my whole life. I’m probably everything those raging Trump supporters hate.
But on November 8, 2016, if Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the last two standing, I may be singing Alexander Hamilton.
Adam Berlin is the author of "Both Members of the Club" (winner of the Clay Reynolds Novella Prize), "The Number of Missing,” "Belmondo Style" (winner of The Publishing Triangle’s Ferro-Grumley Award), and “Headlock." He teaches writing at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and co-edits "J Journal: New Writing on Justice" (AdamBerlin.com). For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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