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Trump Can’t Meet His Own Standards

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Trump Can’t Meet His Own Standards

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Published with permission from the Washington Monthly

Critics were right Wednesday in blasting CNN commentators for describing Republican Donald Trump as presidential. He had given remarks beside Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. As the Washington Posts’s Greg Sargent predicted, he didn’t vomit. He didn’t urinate. So … he’s presidential!

In fairness, this is a judgment based on Trump’s own standards. Those standards, of course, are very, very low. When he rose above them, voila! Even Bill Kristol, he of never-ever #NeverTrump, thought he looked pretty good.

The problem in my view is when commentators make judgments independent of Trump’s standards. For instance, that it was OK for him not to tell Peña Nieto his country would pay for a wall along the US-Mexican border.

I’ll get to the facts in a moment. Meanwhile, this is not Trump’s standard. His standard has always been that Mexico will pay. He has said that to media. He has said that to allies. He whips up crowds with a feverish call and response.

So when he said that they had not discussed who would pay for the wall, that should have raised a fat red flag. On the one hand, you could say he looked presidential. On the other, you could say he had his chance but choked.

I know that’s sounds uncharitable. Indeed, if this were any other candidate, I would say no way no how should a candidate visit a foreign country to make extraordinary demands of its leader. But that is precisely Trump’s way.

He savaged Republicans for exhibiting weakness. He knee-capped “low energy” Jeb Bush. He humiliated “Little” Marco Rubio. He memorably blamed Mitt Romney for losing to Obama in 2012. He said Romney choked under pressure.

These are Trump’s own standards: One, making Mexico pay for the wall. Two, making Mexico pay because only he has the strength to make Mexico pay. Everyone else is weak.

That facade fell to pieces Wednesday, or should have. Trump said during questions that he and Peña Nieto had not discussed payment. That was a choke, and bad enough. But it turns out they had discussed payment. Peña Nieto flatly told him that Mexico would not do any such thing.

So: Not only did he choke, he lied about it. Not only did he lie about it, he lied about getting played — by a man shorter than he, a man classier than he, a man who rises above petty demonstrations of machismo. Trump looked plain weak.

Remember, these are not my standards. These are Trump’s. More importantly, these are standards his supporters demand, and they may (fingers crossed) prove to be his undoing.

Later that same day, Trump held a rally in Arizona during which he presented his clearest vision of immigration policy. He restated that Mexico will pay for a wall.

“They don’t know it yet, but they will,” he said.

That statement should have deepened the impression that Trump is all talk. It should have given the impression that, like every bully, he becomes unglued in the face of strong opposition but returns to form when surrounded by people whose greatest wish is for him to demonstrate dominance.

The next day, Peña Nieto again took to Twitter to reiterate: Mexico will not pay. Let’s hope this lasts till November.

The Democrats are now trying to turn his greatest strength — the illusion of strength — into his greatest weakness. If he is made to look small at the presidential debates, he’s done. That can only be done if he’s held to this own standards.

John Stoehr is a lecturer in political science at Yale, a journalism fellow at Wesleyan, and US News & World Report contributing writer.

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61 Comments

  1. the actual Bajmahal September 2, 2016

    Well, whether he urinated or not …kind of depends. Doesn’t it?

    Reply
    1. Oddworld September 2, 2016

      Definitely depends….and he’s gonna need a reliable pair of depends to get him through the debates!

      Reply
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        Reply
      2. The lucky one September 3, 2016

        Most of Trump’s shite comes out his mouth.

        Reply
        1. Dan S September 3, 2016

          It’s been said he’s got a bad case of diarrhea of the mouth. For once I cant wait for this election to end to shut him up

          Reply
          1. The lucky one September 3, 2016

            He’s just not that smart, not a fool, but so sure of himself (from a lifetime of mingling primarily with sycophants) that he assumes anything he says is brilliant and that people are dying to hear his thoughts. It must be sobering for him to deal with people who he can’t control and have no need to kiss his ass.

            Reply
          2. Oddworld September 3, 2016

            Those are great points. A good con person also knows how to read the room of his/her marks by preying on the greed of those marks. It may have served Trump well in the past but this time was an epic fail.

            Reply
        2. Oddworld September 3, 2016

          Better yet then. We could muzzle the SOB then hopefully he’ll choke.

          Reply
          1. The lucky one September 3, 2016

            Sounds like a plan.

            Reply
          2. Oddworld September 3, 2016

            SHHHH!!! We never had this conversation.

            Reply
  2. Oddworld September 2, 2016

    Trump…the tough talking darling of the right-wing had his balls handed to him by someone whom he believes to be inferior to himself in every way. I love it!

    Reply
    1. Leftout September 3, 2016

      The articles comments are so lame and trivial about paying for the Wall. Of course Mexican president is saying he is not paying for the Wall. Trump can extract the fees for Wall building from trade imbalances between the two countries. No one lost face in this meeting between the two, and that is what diplomacy is about . What shallow thinking.

      Reply
      1. Oddworld September 3, 2016

        Duped again I see! Trump did not go to Mexico to discuss a diplomatic solution to payment of the wall. His own statement made in Arizona on Wednesday proves that. He didn’t go there to negotiate, Trumps intention was to demand terms to Mexico, a boast he had been making all long. It really doesn’t matter anyway, he first has to be elected president and that outcome is yet to be determined.

        Reply
        1. Leftout September 3, 2016

          That is correct and he said so on the podium , negotiation for payments would be discussed later but they agreed for the wall and both agreed that a secure country for both is required . The cost of the wall is to be paid by mecxico one way or the other . The decrease In Drug use and trafficking will save billions to not sides . So say I. Did yo. Did you not hear that said.

          Reply
          1. Oddworld September 3, 2016

            I never said Trump and Pena Nieto were duped, I said you were duped. The only positive coming out of the wall is that it may (no guarantee) decrease the flow of trafficking. That’s putting a lot of faith into something yet to be proven. There are ways to get around walls and securities. Are we going to charge Mexico for the extremely large force of border agents and military presence it’s going to take to patrol that wall? You’re entitled to believe everything Trump tells you but that doesn’t make him honest. Let’s just agree to disagree and leave it at that!

            Reply
          2. Leftout September 3, 2016

            I am for border security not because I hate Mexicans but for the ones who look like Mexicans and are terrorists from the those nations . Mexicans are very very hard working people and come for jobs , never citizen ship unless they get in line with others .

            Reply
          3. Oddworld September 3, 2016

            That’s honest…besides, I never presumed that you hate Mexicans nor would I ever. I’m not judging you Leftout, you’re backing the candidate that most speaks to your sensibilities and concerns, we all do that and I wouldn’t expect anything different. I also have concerns regarding Clinton and I’ve consistently said so. When I say offensive things about Trump don’t take it personally, I’m just spouting my deep contempt for the man, not you!! Fair enough?

            Reply
          4. Leftout September 3, 2016

            Absolutely fair. Thanks. I am ultra pro American and I have felt Obama and Hillary have policies that undermine that which has gotten us to a state of civility and prosperity to which other immigrants also aspire. Essentially my grandparents came here to give and not to take, working at menial jobs, giving us a better place. It was not easy. The Golden Door as is described on the Statue of Liberty , remains shiny and inviting only if we do not chip away at it .

            Reply
      2. KDJ54 September 3, 2016

        Trump cannot extract fees to build his wall from the trade imbalance. This is one of Trump’s greatest lies and one that is so obvious to anyone who is taken macroeconomics 101 that he should be laughed off the stage any time he says it. In order to understand that point let’s go back to economics 101 to understand why this is such a farce. For purposes of this example let’s take two companies company A in the United States that makes widgets and exports them to Mexico. In Mexico Company B makes Trump piñatas and exports them to the United States. In 2015 it turns out that Trump piñata’s are a hit with the public in the United States. However, sales of widgets to Mexico is stagnant and the sale of Trump piñatas outstrips the sale of widgets in Mexico. Consequently, company B is receiving payment in dollars in its accounts for the sale of Trump piñatas. Because there are more dollars flowing into company B in Mexico than there are dollars flowing back into company A for the sale of widgets, there is currently trade imbalance between the two countries. However, the money involved does not belong to the Mexican government nor does it along to the United States government it belongs to the two respective companies which are doing business across the border. The money is in private hands. Trump cannot access it. So, you may say, let’s put a tariff on Trump piñata’s from Mexico to rectify the trade balance. We do this so, in theory, we can get the money from the tariff to build the wall. Well let’s examine that particular point a little more in depth. Once the tariff is in place, Trump piñatas will be more expensive in the United States in direct correlation with the amount of the tariff imposed upon Trump piñata’s. If Mexico retaliates with a similar tariff on widgets, then there may be a net impact of zero with regard to the trade imbalance. which means that there may be no increase in the amount of money available to build the wall through imposition of the tariff. At the same time, an enterprising individual in China Canada or even United States may decide that because the tariff has now made Trump piñatas from Mexico more expensive, then those piñatas will now be made in the United States, or in the countries not subject to the tarrif. In that respect, the tariff will not have any effect and will not make any additional money available to build the wall. Additionally because of the imposition of the tariff the widget maker in company A will no longer be able to export to Mexico and jobs may be lost and factories may be closed. In other words it will be a lose-lose situation and no money will be garnered to build the wall. The bottom line is this: no company is going to surrender their money to Donald Trump saw that he can build his stupid wall.

        Reply
        1. Leftout September 3, 2016

          Your economic examples
          Are scattered with suppositions and the use of “may”. If I wanted an original valuable Trump piñata . I would Pay the premium
          Price
          For
          It

          Reply
          1. iamproteus September 4, 2016

            Leftout, that made no sense whatsoever. It sounds like something Trump would say!

            Reply
          2. Leftout September 4, 2016

            If I wanted a Porsche I would have to pay the premium
            Tariff , if there is one , and that could be used to fund the Berlin Wall if needed .

            Reply
          3. iamproteus September 4, 2016

            Leftout, you may think you understand how tariffs relate to international commerce, but it is clear you do not. KDJ54 made a valiant attempt to explain it and I give him props for that. However, you really should visit your local community college and ask the economics prof to help you with it. I am not trying to be an a-hole or insult you. It is my intent to help you get a clearer understanding. The bottom line is this: no matter who hits who with a tariff, the bill for the “Great Wall” will ultimately wind up on the backs of the consumers.

            Reply
  3. Aaron_of_Portsmouth September 2, 2016

    The secret with dealing with a narcissist with an out-sized ego is to be relaxed yet firm and direct. Bullies like Trump can be easily unnerved when you’re able to project calmness in the face of their bluster—they’re so accustomed to seeing a less secure person cower in their presence that they get off-balance and confused when someone else flat out and confidently says “NO!”
    During Baha’u’llah’s enforced exile from His homeland of Persia as a Prisoner of the Muslim and secular leaders of Iran(Persia) and of the Ottoman Empire in the mid 1800’s, during a stop in Adrianople one evening, He went to a local Turkish bath house. A large man hired to waylay Baha’u’llah waited in the shadows. As Baha’u’llah approached this hired hand without deviating and with confidence and assurance, within a several paces the man dropped his gun and began to shake visibly. Baha’u’llah asked a companion nearby to pick the gun up, to give it to the thug, and asked the companion to take the man home. That was the end of that scheme.

    Trump reminds me of that thug, a bully that once you look him in the eye, he will lose confidence and realize that the bully thing won’t work. Must have been a sobering experience for little Lord Fauntleroy.

    Reply
    1. stcroixcarp September 3, 2016

      Peace to you. I appreciate your example of courage.

      Reply
    2. Dan S September 3, 2016

      Very well said & very correct assessment of Mr. Trump. All talk but no follow thru. Even if the unimaginable happened & he became our next President I feel very confident no wall will ever be built. The people just won’t allow that to happen which is why he will lose in November

      Reply
      1. Eleanore Whitaker September 3, 2016

        The wall I want to see Trump build is the one he “thinks” he can build between the US and Canada. That is the world’s longest border between any 2 countries.

        Trump is a maniac the Republicans want sane people to accept.

        Reply
        1. Dominick Vila September 3, 2016

          It is the longest, and by far the most porous. Something else that Trump, and his followers, seem to be unaware of, is that tens of thousands of Latinos, as well as Europeans and Asians, enter the USA via ports of entry on a daily basis, either to do day work, or as tourists who never leave. Then again, maybe he is well aware of it, and simply prefers to apply extreme vetting to anyone who does not come from places like Slovenia!

          Reply
  4. PrecipitousDrop September 3, 2016

    Like anything else — or everything else — Donald Trump has no “standards.” Having “standards” requires a person to have some knowledge of ethics, of honesty, of integrity.
    Having “standards” requires us to compare ourselves to someone or something outside of ourselves. Trump can’t perceive anything beyond himself. He is no larger than the confines of any man’s wallet.

    Reply
  5. Dominick Vila September 3, 2016

    The truth is that considering Trump’s standards, a term I use with great hesitancy, he acted unusually mature, and almost objective in Mexico City. Whether or not the issue of who would pay for the wall during the meeting with Pena Nieto is immaterial, inasmuch as The Donald read a paper, written during the meeting by one of his surrogates, that may have omitted that issue – deliberately or by accident – and that included admissions of issues, such as the flow of illegal weapons from the USA to Mexico, that is causing so much havoc in that country, as a way to justify the construction of a Wall, at a time when most of the world is removing barriers.
    The real issue is not what Trump read in New Mexico, but the U-turn he made within a few hours, and in the following days, when a far right backlash became evident.
    Two of the most obvious characteristics of Donald Trump, since he decided to run for President, besides his narcissism, arrogance, ignorance, and prejudice, are his inclination to say whatever his audience, at any given moment, wants to hear; and the need to attract free media attention to compensate for the limited financial and political support he has been getting from his own party.
    Trump is a showman, a man without standards, whose top priority has always been, is, and is likely to be, to pursue whatever is best for Donald Trump.

    Reply
    1. Jmz Nesky September 3, 2016

      “The Donald read a paper, written during the meeting by one of his surrogates”
      It was a Bretbart clone and he reminded the Turnup that they were now in charge of his demeanor and as such should not show his balls in front of a visiting media that they couldn’t control so he did like a good dog does and acted human for a few hours then came home and immediately took it out on them as only the Turnup can and our media? Well, I think it happened during their lunch break.

      Reply
      1. FireBaron September 4, 2016

        For whatever reason, Teflon Donnie and his Brietbart handlers don’t realize people in the US have access to media from other countries. We all saw the video feeds of TD playing Mister Submissive to the Mexican president, just like we saw the videos of the Chinese officials who attempted to refuse to allow the President’s aides and the press with him on the tarmac at the airport when Obama met the President of China. Now China is trying to censor all the feeds showing this government official trying to bully foreign diplomats as it will put them in a bad light for the G20 summit. Gotta love the internet!

        Reply
    2. rose528 September 3, 2016

      in other words a FLIM FLAM MAN, A SCAMER, AN OLD FASHION CAR SALESMAN

      Reply
      1. Ruthgknight2 September 4, 2016

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        Reply
  6. The lucky one September 3, 2016

    “Not only did he choke, he lied about it. Not only did he lie about it, he lied about getting played — Trump looked plain weak.”

    Should we be unfortunate enough to have Trump as prez this paragraph will be repeated often.

    Reply
  7. bojimbo26 September 3, 2016

    A second hand car dealer only has one thing on his mind – to sell rubbish to the customer . In Donalds terms – to the USA .

    Reply
  8. Eleanore Whitaker September 3, 2016

    Bwhahahahahaha! Trump has standards? If he does, it is the standand for insanity. What the Republicans want most of all right now is for insanity to be the “NEW NORMAL.” That little piece of their ideology is not working and they hate it like hell.

    So, they bring on Hellboy Trump to show all of us how normal insanity is…sly, crafty, delusional, perverted and violent.

    Reply
    1. FireBaron September 4, 2016

      Hey, Teflon Donnie has standards! Look at Melina, Marla and Ivana, and the way he oogles over his daughter Ivanka. We know what his standards are.

      Reply
  9. ivory69690@yahoo.com September 3, 2016

    Trump Can’t Meet His Own Standards /// of course he cant for every time DONNY DUMP sets a standard the next time he go’s lower the bar is lowered so much and so fast he cant keep up with his own standard FREEFALL DOWN FALL

    Reply
  10. docb September 3, 2016

    A bully from a distance and a wimp up close….That is all the flip-floper is! Vacuous and policy void with NO standards…

    Reply
    1. aboonaj September 3, 2016

      Oh, my gosh — can’t believe you said that! I was going to say: like the bully who confronted the mouse: the mouse roared and and the bully wimped and whimpered out!

      Reply
  11. Jon September 3, 2016

    Trump spent over a year hollering that Mexico was going to pay for his wall. He used his wall to pump up his racists at his rallies with him asking them who was going to pay for his wall and them shouting “Mexico” and getting his addle brained worshippers to chant “build that wall.” Trump got his chance to talk to Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto and deliver the message face to face. Yet he doesn’t do it despite the fact he has promised it reapetedly and instead tucks his tail between his legs when Pena Nieto told him that Mexico was not going to pay for the wall. Donnie then looked sickly and very low energy at the little press conference held after the meeting.
    Then it turns out that Donnie lied about payment for the wall not even being discussed. Some Trump devotees have said that payment wasn’t discussed because Donnie did not(out of fear?) reply to Pena Nieto when he said that Mexico was not going to pay for the wall. How puerile can they get?
    Honest Ann Coulter said that payment for Trump Wall was never discussed because Pena Nieto never corrected Trump when he said payment had not been discussed during the little press conference following the meeting. I can’t believe that Pena Nieto’s silence then proves, as Honest Ann claims, that Pena Nieto lied when he tweeted that it was discussed. First, Trump looked sickly and weak at the press conference and he may have been seen as picking on a sick man. Second. a press conference isn’t a debate. Why turn it into one when you can correct the record later? Trump can go back at a scheduled time and debate Pena Nieto over whether payment for Trump Wall was discussed. Third, that was the first time Trump had lied in Pena Nieto’s presence. It may have been a shock to listen to a candidate for POTUS blatantly lie to the press. He may have been unsure how to react under the circumstances.

    Reply
    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth September 3, 2016

      Honest Ann couldn’t hold a candle to “Honest Abe”, or anyone else. Ann and Trump are so unfamiliar with the concept of honesty and being forthright that they may as well be living in an alternate universe where “good” is “evil”, and being untrustworthy is a prized non-virtue.

      Reply
      1. Jon September 3, 2016

        I probably shouldn’t do it but at times the only way I can vent my frustration with the likes of Ann Coulter is with sarcasm, hence “Honest Ann.” She is so detached from reason, logic, and the truth I don’t believe anything can make her a rational, ethical, honest human being at this point.

        Reply
        1. FireBaron September 4, 2016

          Geez, Jon, by that logic, you should call Teflon Donnie “Sincere Donald”!

          Reply
          1. Jon September 4, 2016

            Do you mind if I borrow that from you?

            Reply
        2. Katstiles September 4, 2016

          You are to nice Jon. I have a suitcase full of nasty words to describe Coulter and most of them cannot be used here!

          Reply
          1. Jon September 5, 2016

            That’s what makes this difficult at times. The words you feel like saying can’t be said in a forum like this. I guess that’s why I sometimes resort to sarcasm to express my frustration with some of these people.

            Reply
      2. FireBaron September 4, 2016

        Actually, Aaron, both Ann and Teflon Donnie are very familiar with “honesty” as a philosophical concept. What they don’t understand is their false sincerity does not take the place of honesty.

        Reply
    2. leadvillexp September 4, 2016

      Trump is a business man not a politician! He isn’t going to show all his cards like the idiot politicians do. Remember World War Two? They said loose lips sink ships and lived by it? Today we tell all let the military be hanged. Some things need to be kept quiet. Hillary will sacrifice our military with her mouth. She will promise any thing to get the minority vote even if it opens up our country to all kind of riff raff. She doesn’t base her decision on what the country needs but on ethnic and racial ideals. That is how the communists set their policy. All work and each gets what he needs, decided by the government. If you don’t work you still get supported. The Communists said we don’t have to invade the US we will conquer them from within, how true,

      Reply
      1. Jon September 4, 2016

        Is there lead n your drinking water? Your argument makes no sense and lacks specifics to give it any meaningful context. Running a country is not like running a business. Trump couldn’t even run his businesses successfully. He discriminated against minorities in housing, he went bankrupt several times and his mismanagement caused him to go on the public dole relying on taxpayers to pay his debts for him. Many of his businesses failed miserably. Other businesses, like Trump University were just scams. Draft dodger Trump once told his pal Howard Stern that he was fighting STD’s in the U.S. while children not born into privilege were fighting and dying in Vietnam. He is a disgusting coward. He yells for months that Mexico will pay for his beautiful wall. It’s not a secret. Mexicans knew what he had been saying. Yet he claims he never even talked to President Pena Nieto about it. Gutless coward. I am from a military family and have family currently serving. They fear a Trump presidency as do I for them. He wants to abandon NATO, has close ties to Putin and Russian oligarchs, wants to expand the number of nations having nuclear weapons, is childish and extremely sensitive and easily offended, talks and thinks like a 5th grader most of the time, and will always put himself and his desires ahead of the welfare of America. We don’t have to worry about communists. Communism failed miserably. We need to worry about dictators like Putin and his friends and “60 Minutes” stablemate.

        Reply
        1. leadvillexp September 5, 2016

          I guess you don’t like 60 minutes, good tv show. Yes I respect our military and they choose to serve. When I was young we were drafted, no choice. Was Trump drafted, maybe not. That is OK. If he didn’t join it doesn’t make him a draft dodger. Maybe we need to run this country like a business and not a charity. We need someone that is not a politician and Trump is not a politician. Every thing you said about his business is correct. He stated he used everything he could to avoid paying taxes and that is good business, He knows how they avoid taxes and can fix it. Smart is only paying what you have to. A good business man would not show his hand when talking to a rival. politicians today always tell in advance, no secrets. Hillary will take us down a road to ruin. She will tax you and give your money that you worked hard for to the people that don’t work and take away your rights under the Bill of Rights which she says should be changed. She wants total government control and control over your life. Go back and read your Constitution and Bill of Rights, read the Federlist and Anti Federalist Papers and see what she and the Democrats want to take away. You will see the future when you understand the past.

          Reply
          1. Jon September 5, 2016

            You sir are beyond hope. I have a BA in history and JD in law. I have also been involved in politics and have taken many political science classes. I am certain I understand more about Constitutional law than you will ever know so stop lecturing me. I have been involved in thousands of negotiations. Your constant reference to secrets is ridiculous. You are using it to excuse the spineless Trump from demanding from President Pena Nieto that Mexico pay for his beautiful wall. Wake up. President Pena Nieto knew about Trump’s claim long before they met. There was no secret. What there was was Trump melting in a face to face meeting with Pena Nieto. Your understanding of the past as a basis for predicting a future with Hillary Clinton as president is so warped, I see no hope for you. You and your racists friends enjoy your Trumpian world.

            Reply
          2. Jon September 5, 2016

            Your ignorance is showing. How could any rational person come to the conclusion that “I guess you don’t like 60 minutes, good tv show.” A rational person would never reach that conclusion based on anything I said. You have no idea how I feel about “60 Minutes.” Trump got deferment after deferment and finally avoided the draft by getting one of the Trump doctors to claim he had bone spurs. Give me a break. I have bone spurs and know others who do as well. They should never excuse a person from military service. He was and still is a gutless coward.

            Reply
      2. Ken Walker September 5, 2016

        I get so sick and tired of hearing the excuse that “Donnie is not a politician”. No he isn’t… he’s just a pathological lying, bloviating, idiot. All we hear from Donnie and his supporters, like you, is ignorance.

        Reply
  12. j_verria September 3, 2016

    For those of you who doubt that he choked..just look at the two shaking hands in front of the lecterns. Nieto has the dominant handshake! So much for being a badass!! If he bows like this to the president of Mexico, what does he do when in the presence of a despot like putin?

    Reply
    1. johninPCFL September 3, 2016

      Putin already owns him. At their first meeting, Trump will be on his knees.

      Reply
    2. Katstiles September 4, 2016

      He gives Putin a lovely BJ!

      Reply
  13. Aaron_of_Portsmouth September 3, 2016

    Trump’s standards are so low yet it shouldn’t be hard to achieve them, yet he still can’t meet them.

    Reply
  14. Katstiles September 4, 2016

    Trump is a bloviating buffoon who has managed, quite easily, to con millions of boneheads into believing everything he says, even when he contradicts himself daily. It’s amazing America is doing as well as we are considering how many idiots live here!

    Reply
    1. iamproteus September 4, 2016

      Ain’t it the truth!

      Reply

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