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Poor Oklahoma, and Trump lies again (about Iran, this time)


My mother, who would be 104 years old if she still lived, was a native Oklahoman, born and bred. Her parents settled there before it was a state, when it was still Indian Territory, in the year 1907. Her father, my grandfather Harry, co-founded the first Jewish synagogue in the state.

Mom lived long enough (until 2005) to see Oklahoma become one of the reddest states in the nation. She never could understand it. Her Oklahoma was Democratic—the Oklahoma of Bob Kerr, Carl Albert, David Boren and, yes, Will Rogers. Between 1907 and 1973 Democrats averaged 81 percent of seats held in the state legislature.

But something happened in Oklahoma in the last fifty years. Conservatives, led by evangelical Christians, took over the state, and pushed it to the extreme right. Mom was appalled; she would joke mirthlessly that her Oklahoma relatives were the last living Democrats in the state. She had nothing against Christians. She just couldn’t understand why they were hell-bent on imposing their religion on everybody else.

The last picture ever taken of my mom, by me, is of her with a Kerry-Edwards button on her sweater. It was shortly before the 2004 Presidential election, which the Democrats lost. George W. Bush was re-elected. Mom despised Bush; an avid T.V. news watcher, she would mute the sound when Bush was speaking. She could not bear his voice.

I do the same with Trump. I guess I inherited that from mom. I certainly inherited her Democratic values. When I was a little boy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the mortal equivalent of God in our household. Almost as exalted in status was Adlai Stevenson. I grew up respecting Democratic politicians, who (as I learned from mom) loved the common folks, the workers, the school teachers (which mom was), the laborers. Republicans, I came to understand, stood for the rich, who exploited common folks. In my 73 years, I have seen no evidence to indicate that anything has changed. If anything, the Republican Party has grown even worse. Nowadays, they stand, not just for the rich, but for a class of ignorant, superstitious and bigoted “Christians,” a word I put in quotes because there’s nothing particularly Christian about the people who support Trump. If anything, they’re fundamentalist theocrats, the American equivalent of the Taliban.

I sometimes wonder why my mother was such an ardent Democrat. I regret that I never asked her. Did she inherit it from her parents? Why would Russian Jewish immigrants who moved to Indian Territory have become Democrats? I can only speculate, but I think it was because my grandparents truly believed in the American dream, that all men are created equal. Even 100 years ago, Republicans were preaching the gospel of exclusion and wealthy male privilege. Republicans stood against people of color and the poor, against immigrants whom they tried to bar from entry. Mom instinctively rebelled against such smallness and pettiness.

Mom didn’t have all the answers. But her heart was large. She was engaged in the search for answers. That’s what I love about Democrats: their large heart. Does anyone think Trump has a big heart? Does anyone think Republicans have hearts? Please.

* * *

Anyone who believes what Trump said about not bombing Iran because he was concerned about the potential loss of life, is an idiot.

Trump doesn’t care about anyone’s life except his own and his family’s. He couldn’t care less if 150 Iranians, or 15,000 Iranians, died in a U.S. attack. As long as his base was pleased, so would he be—and of course his base would be pleased because they hate Moslems and Arabs, and they think the only good Iranian is a dead Iranian. So this nonsense that 150 deaths would have been “disproportionate” is just another Trump lie.

Here’s what Trump was really up to. He knows he needs to mend his polling numbers, and fast. He knows the reason he can’t rise in his favorability ratings is because too many Americans think negatively about his character and morality. Therefore he must do something to prove otherwise: show the world that he’s a man of deep compassion and morality. Trump thereby graduates from Trump the Disgusting to Trump the Caring Man, the Savior of Human Life.

This is an opening salvo of his re-election campaign. Expect more demonstrations of his human-ness, his humane-ness, his spiritual side. It will be laughable; this man is about as spiritual as a vulture. But he can pretend to be, in the hope that just enough credulous voters will think that he’s not as bad as they’d previously thought, or, maybe, that he’s maturing in office. A swing of, say, 1 million, spread among the States he’s going to need (Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida) could get him a second term.

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