Saturday, February 24, 2018

When did buffoonery become statesmanship?

When you think of some of the nation's great statesmen, who comes to mind? Thomas Jefferson? George Marshall? Woodrow Wilson? Dean Acheson?

But somehow the list seems incomplete. Who could be missing from this august assemblage of figures who negotiated international treaties, rebuilt countries ravaged by conflict and stood at the diplomatic parapets of the Cold War?

Yes, of course, none other than Donald Trump, the Republican Party's answer to Bozo the Clown meets Bedford Falls' Henry Potter.

According the Republican Party of Sarasota, statesman Trump seems to loom right up there with Winston Churchill.

This weekend, in the land of those other noted envoys for brotherhood, Katherine Harris and Vern Buchanan, the Republican Party of Sarasota will honor Trump at its sold-out annual "Statesman of the Year" award. Uh, isn't this a bit like paying tribute to befuddled Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin for his contributions to a better understanding of obstetrics?

Apparently the Republican Party of Sarasota equates Richard Holbrooke's brokerage of the Dayton Accords, which brought an end to the Bosnian conflict, with Donald Trump boldly informing Snoop Dog that he isn't exactly upper management material.

Compared to last year's Republican Party of Sarasota "Statesman of the Year," Trump comes off as Anwar Sadat. That would have been the Foghorn Leghorn of the GOP, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who once famously said that he never really noticed any racial tensions while growing up. On his last day in office, he granted pardons and clemency to 203 people, including 19 convicted murderers.

Now there's a Nelson Mandela statesmanship moment for you.

Trump was tagged by the Sarasota Republicans to be recognized for this contributions to statesmanship on the eve of the party's national convention in Tampa. Think of this as Larry the Cable Guy as opening act for an Agenda 21 gathering of conspiracy theorists.

Just what Trump's influence has been on the statesmanship racket isn't entirely clear. The Sarasota event has been promoted as an opportunity to recognize the mogul's right-wing bona fides, as well as his courage in pontificating his conservative crib sheet.

But that's not statesmanship. It's political huckstering, which would more than qualify the Great Pumpkin of Fifth Avenue for his own banquet.

On the international scene, Trump would seem to prefer to cause crises, rather than resolve them. Such as building a ritzy golf course in the Scottish hamlet of Aberdeenshire, ignoring the objections of the citizenry and environmental groups who argued the development would adversely impact sensitive sand dunes and wildlife.

Trump even griped about a nearby windmill farm as detrimental to the project, braying that his word was the only evidence authorities need to support his claim. This was not Nixon goes to China.

It's not as if the Grand and Glorious Beach Ball doesn't have a foreign policy, even if it was filched from Groucho Marx's stewardship of Freedonia.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Trump continues to peddle his uninformed and unfounded belief that Barack Obama was born elsewhere other than the United States. He's the primary P.T. Barnum bloviator of the birther buffoonery.

Donald Trump has spent his adult life in two pursuits: a) building as many gaudy edifices as possible with his name emblazoned on the roof, and b) trying to show up on television more often than Regis Philbin. It's good to have goals.

The Republican Party has many notable figures in its midst who have played important roles in advancing the nation's interests, often undertaking complex and risky diplomatic challenges. John McCain, Bob Dole, Chuck Hagel, Olympia Snowe. George H.W. Bush come immediately to mind and that's just for starters. These are statesmen, not self-absorbed, self-promoting shills.

The best the Republicans can come up to fete as a "statesman" is the Irwin Mainway of the tea party foisting his Bag O' Declasse off on fawning Sarasota sycophants?

Tickets to dine, breathe the same air in a private meet-and-bleat session and have a picture taken with the Grate Man can run as high as $1,000. There really are silk-stocking suckers born every minute.

Last year it was Barbour, Mississippi's answer to Boss Hogg. In 2012, it's Trump, who makes Narcissus look like Sad Sack. How can the Republican Party of Sarasota top itself with next year's honoree?

Tom DeLay's money laundering conviction could still be on appeal. He might be available. After all, the Sarasota Republicans have shown they aren't fussy about setting too high a bar when it comes to defining "statesman."

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