Poor Donald Trump, who has a mouth so small that he looks like a parrot and could never hope to present himself as a thoughtful, benevolent statesman, even if he were to rationalise his hair.
Of course, he didn’t choose to have a hideous, pouty mouth, which is perhaps revenge-karma for his hugely privileged background; but he can’t deny that his mouth belongs to nobody but him… he can’t blame it on the Muslims or the Mexicans and he can’t claim there’s an elitist, metropolitan conspiracy to make his mouth look like an ugly, bad-tempered rosebud. Unlike his ideas - trickle-down Reaganomics, right-wing populism and some wild bits lifted from the internet – his mouth is wholly authentic.
He might swear, as he did in the first of the candidate debates with Hillary Clinton, that he never said that climate change was a hoax organised by China (even while his statement saying exactly that was being retweeted by sceptics across the US), but it’s clearly unsafe to rely on anything he says; instead just look at that mouth.
There’s an odd view, taken particularly, I think, by disappointed left-wing supporters of Clinton’s rival for the nomination, Bernie Sanders. This says that Clinton is almost as bad as Trump; that she is a champion of neoliberalism and the big corporations and as much responsible for the mess left by George W Bush’s War on Terror as George W Bush himself.
This is unfair. She is 68 and has spent her political career acting pretty much as Anglo-American centre-left politicians of her time were expected to act; which is not very leftishly but did offer some protection against the rampant right. I’m not sure that there is a centre-right in Britain or the US, just various degrees of the right-right, whether represented by Trump, the appalling Ted Cruz, the Tea Party or Iain Duncan Smith – all people a lot more frightening than Hillary Clinton.
Besides, she seems to have learned something from Bernie Sanders’ – and, indeed, Trump’s – opposition to foreign trade agreements that damage American workers and is lining up against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. She also, in the candidates’ debate, made a very sharp attack on Trump’s support of tax cuts for the rich.
Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn are credited with being ahead of the pack in advocating a new, post-neoliberal political order, but they both got there by not moving much at all; just by waiting, perhaps even to their own surprise, for things to come around. I think we should give Hillary Clinton credit for working hard, long and mostly honestly - even if with dodgy economic models - to make people’s lives better. The left-left doesn’t have a monopoly on good intentions.
And here’s a reminiscence which somehow seems relevant to the Trump phenomenon. It’s the very early 1970s and I’ve been hard-core clubbing in Doncaster, which means dancing gormlessly at a discotheque before catching the last train home to Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, at a daringly late time of night (11.05 if I remember rightly).
There is a seedy-looking man dressed like a bedraggled club vocalist in middle of the carriage and he’s telling everybody, at great length and volume, what a terrible time he’s had because all the girls in Doncaster are lesbians and therefore not interested in his knockout chat-up lines.
The rest of the passengers don’t contradict him but may be thinking, as I am, that the lesbian thesis doesn’t really add up. A more likely explanation for his lack of success is the fact that he spends the entire journey farting loudly in a rich variety of tones about once every 20 seconds, although he seems magically unaware that he’s doing it.
Replace all that trumping with outrageous lies, mangled phrases, explosions of bombast and petulant refusals to act like a grown-up, and you have Donald Trump to the life.