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Trump, Romney, McCain and Bush speeches compared – with humility

July 28th, 2016

Why would you vote for Donald Trump in the US presidential election? Maybe if you had not reached your fifth birthday, so were short on qualities such as self-restraint, logic, analytical thinking – and an acknowledgement that the truth is important.

Watching a TV series about four-year-olds, shortly after having seen the Donald accept the 2016 Republican nomination, the parallels were striking. Some of the four-year-olds displayed very similar characteristics to the potential next leader of the free world. They were inconsistent, loud, unsympathetic to others, selfish, mendacious, self-aggrandizing … and so on.

The rise of Trump does underscore what could be either a sea change in society, or, please gods, just a temporary fillip brought on by the stresses of modern life in the West. For his success – with a sizeable minority of Americans – runs counter to the traditional ideals which we have tried to instil into our children. Be polite does not equal “she had blood coming from her, whatever” (Megyn Kelly standing up to him); being honest does not equal saying one thing one month, the opposite the next, and ignoring the inconsistency; being transparent about one’s activities does not equal refusing to release tax records, unlike all other candidates; being upfront does not equal phoning the media and pretending to be somebody else called “John Barron”.

Mature adults know better than to rate people solely on their looks (Trump, in the sly way he has mastered, took a shot at Ted Cruz’s wife Heidi by posting an unflattering picture of her speaking beside a photo he presumably thinks is flattering of his wife Melania). Mature adults also accept that it is dangerous to incite a crowd to use physical violence against a member of that crowd. But Donald is not a mature adult. He is a rich, spoilt kid who has managed to get away with a string of business failures, and is mouthy enough to be a success in the crude world of the TV reality show.

So Trump is different from previous contenders, but not in a good way. He is immature and contemptuous of depth in thought. He gave a dark, broad brush speech when accepting the Republican nomination on July 21. Just for fun [I lead a quiet life], here’s the first paragraphs of Trump’s speech, compared with the previous three candidates for the Republicans, George Bush [in 2000], John McCain and Mitt Romney. You’ll see that humility features large, though I am reminded that veteran commentator Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe said he decided the speech was going to be another pack of Trump lies when the candidate declared he was “humble” in the very first sentence

Here’s Trump’s intro:

Friends, delegates and fellow Americans: I humbly and gratefully accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States. Together, we will lead our party back to the White House, and we will lead our country back to safety, prosperity, and peace. We will be a country of generosity and warmth. But we will also be a country of law and order.

Our Convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country. Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities. Many have witnessed this violence personally, some have even been its victims.

I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored.

Good huh? No more crime after next January. That’ll put the cops out of work.

Now, here’s what Mitt Romney said in 2012:

Mr. Chairman, delegates. I accept your nomination for President of the United States of America.

I do so with humility, deeply moved by the trust you have placed in me. It is a great honor. It is an even greater responsibility.

Tonight I am asking you to join me to walk together to a better future. By my side, I have chosen a man with a big heart from a small town. He represents the best of America, a man who will always make us proud – my friend and America’s next Vice President, Paul Ryan.

[there was more stuff about what a great family guy Paul Ryan is …]

Four years ago, I know that many Americans felt a fresh excitement about the possibilities of a new president. That president was not the choice of our party but Americans always come together after elections. We are a good and generous people who are united by so much more than what divides us.

When that hard fought election was over, when the yard signs came down and the television commercials finally came off the air, Americans were eager to go back to work, to live our lives the way Americans always have – optimistic and positive and confident in the future.

That very optimism is uniquely American.

 Well, not in Trump’s world it ain’t – unless you vote for emotional claptrap and vague promises.

So, back to 2008, and John McCain, with Sarah Palin chained to his ankle like the albatross, declared:

McCain and Palin in 2008.  justjared.com

McCain and Palin in 2008.

Tonight, I have a privilege given few Americans—the privilege of accepting our party’s nomination for President of the United States. And I accept it with gratitude, humility and confidence.

In my life, no success has come without a good fight, and this nomination wasn’t any different. That’s a tribute to the candidates who opposed me and their supporters. They’re leaders of great ability, who love our country, and wished to lead it to better days. Their support is an honor I won’t forget.

 I’m grateful to the President for leading us in those dark days following the worst attack on American soil in our history, and keeping us safe from another attack many thought was inevitable; and to the First Lady, Laura Bush, a model of grace and kindness in public and in private. And I’m grateful to the 41st President and his bride of 63 years, and for their outstanding example of honorable service to our country.

 [more of that stuff, then …]

Finally, a word to Senator Obama and his supporters. We’ll go at it over the next two months. That’s the nature of these contests, and there are big differences between us. But you have my respect and admiration. Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, an association that means more to me than any other. We’re dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights. No country ever had a greater cause than that. And I wouldn’t be an American worthy of the name if I didn’t honor Senator Obama and his supporters for their achievement.

 HOLY GOD! In the Trumpiverse, anyone who gives his opponent any credit is a loser and a pussy. Contrast this dignified wording with Trump’s decision to abandon policy plans for a 40-minute rant on the imagined evils of Hillary Clinton when he was supposed to be lauding his running mate, Mike Pence. (Who’s in the ha’penny place, it has to be said.) Or the crudity of  “Lock her up’” being chanted in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans arena: obviously a lot of mental four-year-olds around.

And to round off, the speech by George W. Bush in 2000, the first time he ran for president. It started this way …

Thank you for this honor. Together, we will renew America’s purpose.

Our founders first defined that purpose here in Philadelphia … Ben Franklin was here. Thomas Jefferson. And, of course, George Washington — or, as his friends called him, “George W.”

I am proud to have Dick Cheney at my side. He is a man of integrity and sound judgment, who has proven that public service can be noble service. America will be proud to have a leader of such character to succeed Al Gore as Vice President of the United States.

I am grateful for John McCain and the other candidates who sought this nomination. Their convictions strengthen our party.

I am especially grateful tonight to my family.

(several minutes of family stuff ensued, then…)

This is a remarkable moment in the life of our nation. Never has the promise of prosperity been so vivid. But times of plenty, like times of crisis, are tests of American character.

Prosperity can be a tool in our hands — used to build and better our country. Or it can be a drug in our system — dulling our sense of urgency, of empathy, of duty.

Our opportunities are too great, our lives too short, to waste this moment. So tonight we vow to our nation …

We will seize this moment of American promise. We will use these good times for great goals.

We will confront the hard issues — threats to our national security, threats to our health and retirement security — before the challenges of our time become crises for our children.

And we will extend the promise of prosperity to every forgotten corner of this country.

What happened to humility, Dubya! This, of course, was pre-911, the defining moment of W’s presidency, and also for Western society. Today we are living with the trauma of the clash of civilisations, as the late Samuel Huntington so presciently put it.

Anyway – one comment to make about the contrasting convention speeches is that the last one by Trump cannot really be counted a Republican’s words. He only rejoined the party in 2012 – after eight years as a Democrat – and completely horrifies a large number of its members. It would be better to describe Trump as a Tea Party candidate. If you hunt around on the internet for anything to substantiate the cries of ‘Lock her up”, you end up fairly quickly in the more lunatic pastures of the Tea Partyers.

At this moment, with Trump several points ahead in the polls, it’s God Help America rather than the traditional God Bless.


His bid for the presidency is hair-raising - photo found at smokinggun.com

His bid for the presidency is hair-raising – photo found at smokinggun.com