Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 4th 2016 Contents For anyone following the US
Presidential campaigns, it has
been a volatile voyage with great
uncertainty about whether
Donald Trump or Hillary Clin-
ton will eventually emerge tri-
We still aren't into the season of direct
debates between the two and the unleashing
of their denigration of each other, although
throughout the primaries we had a good sense
of just how nasty it will become, mostly from
Trump who has verbally assaulted just about
everybody except himself and his family.
But this week the tide began to surge away
from Donald Trump. The Republican Party
Convention was a spectacle of division, pet-
tiness, racism and lynch-mobbing when it
wasn't Trump trotting out his tiresome one-
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party Conven-
tion was sizzling with ideas; vibrant with new
directions (fashioned by Bernie Sanders and
now integral to the party's platform); and ener-
gised by powerful argument, analysis and
values spoken with conviction and magnetism
by Sanders, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
No one listening to Trump declaring himself
the greatest; claiming that he knows just about
everything better than everyone else; and that
he will fix everything that he alleges is wrong
with America, can help to wonder---as Bernie
Sanders did---whether he is running "to be
President of the United States or to be a dic-
tator." There is no doubt, given the personalities
he admires, such as Saddam Hussein and Kim
Jong-un, that the dictator style appeals to
him. It also seems to come very easy to him
to attach demeaning terms to his opponents.
Thus, "little Marco" (Rubio); "lying Ted" (Cruz)
and "corrupt Hillary" (Clinton).
For some time, there seemed to be a reluc-
tance to call him out by his political opponents,
especially those he beat for the Republican
Party nomination. The one exception to that
general pattern has been President Barack
Obama, who, even before he took to the hus-
tings in support of Hillary Clinton, had been
unhesitant---even determined---to expose
Trump as an ill-informed braggart who posed
a real danger to the ethos of the American
Here's the passage from Obama's speech at
the Democratic Party Convention that pigeon-
holes Trump and lays him intellectually and
morally bare: "America is already great. America
is already strong. And I promise you, our
strength, our greatness does not depend on
In fact, it doesn't depend on any one person.
And that, in the end, may be the biggest dif-
ference in this election, the meaning of our
democracy. Ronald Reagan called America "a
shining city on a hill." Donald Trump calls it
"a divided crime scene" that only he can fix.
It doesn't matter to him that illegal immigration
and the crime rate are as low as they've been
in decades, because he's not actually offering
any real solutions to those issues. He's just
offering slogans, and he's offering fear. He's
betting that if he scares enough people, he
might score just enough votes to win this elec-
And that's another bet that Donald Trump
will lose. And the reason he'll lose it is because
he's selling the American people short. We
are not a fragile people, we're not a frightful
people. Our power doesn't come from some
self-declared saviour promising that he alone
can restore order as long as we do things his
way. We don't look to be ruled".
And those remarks came from a man who
had all the gravitas and all the commanding
authority of a respected and admired leader.
Amazingly, Trump's rookie son, Donald
Trump Jr, who is nothing in the campaign but
part of his father's background scenery, actually
claimed that Barack Obama---arguably one of
the best orators in the world---plagiarised his
speech at the Republican Party Convention.
And what was the alleged plagiarisation? One
line used several times by Obama, since as
early as 2010: "That is not the America I
The truth is that Trump Jr's speech-writers
simply lifted the line from previous Obama
speeches; pity they didn't tell him. But, then
again, they also did not appear to have told
him that a part of his speech, on education
reform, was taken wholesale from an article
written by FH Buckley, a professor at George
Mason Law School, in the May edition of The
American Conservative magazine.
The entire tasteless episode was rightly
ridiculed by every pundit, columnist and polit-
ical figure except the paid acolytes at the
Trump Altar. It was seen for what it was: a
trumped-up and foolish tit-for-tat attempt
to whitewash Melania Trump's plagiarising
and wooden presentation of passages from a
dynamic speech made by Michelle Obama at
the Democratic Party Convention in 2008.
She deserves some sympathy. In all this, she
is apparently a reluctant participant, made to
perform by a man that can most charitably
be described as heavy-handed.
It is on Trump himself that focus should
be placed, as Barack Obama has done, clearly
driven by the deep concerns for America in
the hands of a novice whose self-importance
could imperil the nation and the world. As
Obama said: "We are in serious times and this
is a really serious job. This is not entertainment.
This is not a reality show."
And, if anyone needed cause to join President
Obama's concerns, instant motivation should
come from Tony Schwartz, the man who
ghost-wrote the book that Trump so often
conjures as a testament to his ability as a deal-
maker, The Art of the Deal.
In an interview in the magazine, The New
Yorker, Schwartz says: "I put lipstick on a pig.
I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed
to presenting Trump in a way that brought
him wider attention and made him more
appealing than he is. I genuinely believe that
if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes
there is an excellent possibility it will lead to
the end of civilisation."
He added that if he were writing the book
today it would be called "The Sociopath".
To be certain, I looked up the dictionary
definition of "sociopath"---a person with a
psychopathic personality whose behaviour is
anti social, often criminal, and who lacks a
sense of moral responsibility or social con-
And here's the kicker. Schwartz said that
in ghost-writing the book, he wrote the fol-
lowing assertion for Trump: "I play to people's
fantasies. People want to believe that something
is the biggest and the greatest and the most
spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It's an
innocent form of exaggeration---and it's a very
effective form of promotion."
Schwartz now regrets inventing the term,
"truthful hyperbole" which, he says, is a con-
tradiction in terms. He admitted that it's a
way of saying: it's a lie, but who cares?
But, according to him, Trump, loved the
phrase. And, so it is.
(The writer is Antigua and Barbuda's
ambassador to the United States and the
OAS. He is also a senior fellow at the Insti-
tute of Commonwealth Studies, University
of London and Massey College in the Uni-
versity of Toronto. The views expressed
are his own)
AUGUST 4 • 2016 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG23
Donald Trump: The lie
of truthful hyperbole
The week the tide began to
surge away from Donald
Trump. The Republican
Party Convention was a
spectacle of division,
pettiness, racism and
lynch-mobbing when it
wasn't Trump trotting out
his tiresome one-liners.
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