Is the problem Trump or those who support him?

Not long ago Donald Trump addressed a crowd in Arizona, where he retrod his undocumented claims about the Mexican government “sending” its rapists to the U.S. The venue was a convention center with a capacity of 4,100. Afterward he tweeted a photo of the audience with the notation, “This is what 20,000 people looks like.” Perfect.

Donald Trump is indeed perfect. Detail by detail, he embodies the voter-ideal the Republican hierarchy and its media enforcers have been working so hard to create: a person to whom facts are irrelevant, whose idea of strength is the my-way highway, whose definition of patriotism is bullying braggadocio and whose answers to the most complicated problems are so simple they fit on bumper stickers. Nuance? Unwelcome as a climate change conference. He’s the mephitic spawn of Karl Rove and Lee Atwater. Or maybe he sprang from the ids of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Alex Jones, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter and the rest of our rightwing spewers. It’s as if they each brought a favorite body part to a lab and stitched him together. His popularity tells us much about today’s Republican voters.

Rising to political prominence by questioning President Obama’s birthplace, Trump sent “investigators” to Hawaii where, he claimed, they were finding “amazing” things which, for some reason, he’s never gotten around to sharing with us. (Maybe it was pineapples. Pineapples are pretty amazing over there.) Now he tops the polls and Republican leaders are between a rock-head and a hard case: to criticize is to disown the denialism and deceptions they’ve been crafting for years. It’s no mystery why “the base” admires Donald Trump. He’s born of decades of deliberate disinformation, efflorescing now like a corpse plant (tinyurl.com/p4fyauc) His ideas are boilerplate: tax the poor, cut needed spending to lower taxes on the rich, talk tough, reject science, monger fear and resentment. Offering nothing new, he does it louder.

Predictable as the next round of record-breaking heat, Trump attacked the agreement with Iran as soon as it was announced. “It’s a disgrace,” he informed us. “We look so desperate,” he reasoned, as if strict sanctions leading to years of negotiations involving several countries happened in a panic. Yes, because anything except war is a sign of weakness, and because our previous invasions have worked out so well. Trump, of course, wasn’t alone in opining before the details were made public. Lindsey Graham crawled out from under his bed to speak to Joe Scarborough, predicting the end of the world. Joe mostly agreed but allowed as how he’d like to read it first. “Me, too,” said Mr. Graham, without evident irony.

Not that it’ll make any difference, but experts, including nuclear scientists and weapons inspectors, have marveled at how airtight the agreement is. (See Vox.com at tinyurl.com/opej4cv) So far, arguments against it ring hollow. (See Vox.com at tinyurl.com/p4eutrw) I don’t know if it’ll work, but apocalyptic claims notwithstanding, it’s hardly naïve. (See NewYorker.com at tinyurl.com/pq4ucwx) The only way we’ll get past the constant threat of war is to give Iran’s young people reasons to reject their ayatollahs and admire the U.S. After all, we found our way from “you’re with us or with the terrorists” to offering alternatives. Given the opportunity, they might, too.

Even if they voice objections, Trump has made it impossible for Republicans to deny their real agenda: Illegal immigration and “taking our country back” are exactly what tea partiers have been fed by those wanting to keep them angry in the wrong direction. Who knows whether Trump’s claims are deliberate lies or simply uninformed? (He does seem to favor making up numbers on the spot.) But, exactly as intended, they’re keeping impending oligarchy under the rug (See tinyurl.com/ouysmg8).

I’ll admit Trump is facile, if thin-skinned, in interviews. Wiggling out of tight spots with flimflam, he’ll do well in debates, at least in the eyes of the fact-averse. Which, I suppose, is the point. Unless their party produces a candidate with realistic ideas, they may as well go for the guy who slings it the furthest. And now we have his asinine comments about John McCain, which, no matter the fallout (because R’s hate [Kerry!] attacks [Cleland!] on decorated veterans!), won’t change the fact that a superficial blowhard like Donald Trump has led the Republican presidential pack.

Sid Schwab is a surgeon and Everett resident. His email address is columnsid@gmail.com.

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