The Old Man with a Spray Tan

The notion that anyone can accept the idea that the former president is the last, best hope to save American democracy is repulsive in the extreme. The opposite, in fact, is true.

The Old Man with a Spray Tan

“But let’s all remember Donald Trump is just a flatulent old man with an orange spray-tan who fell asleep at his own trial.” -Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Donald Trump is such a vulgar human being we ought to be ashamed to be members of the same species. Even more disgusting and tragic, however, are the individuals in public life who surrender their last shreds of dignity, and the remaining crumbs of their principles, in exchange for access to Trump. The notion that anyone can accept the idea that the former president is the last, best hope to save American democracy is repulsive in the extreme. The opposite, in fact, is true. Trump’s restoration to the White House, based only on his threats, would begin the complete disassembling of the past two and a half centuries of America’s aspirational journey to create a “more perfect union.”

If you want to understand our failures as a democratic republic, the easiest approach would be to examine Trump’s sycophantic cult members. The Speaker of the U.S. House has suggested he was going to try and abridge the judicial process and see if he could get the Supreme Court to intervene in Trump’s felony conviction. The convict Trump, who has no understanding of democratic norms, went to Johnson and told him, “You’ve got to help me overturn the conviction,” as if Johnson, the man who considers himself a Moses for the new millennium, had the power to pass legislation overruling a jury’s decision. The House majority is, nonetheless, pushing a new law to empower the removal of criminal cases from state courts and transfer them to federal jurisdictions, which would give politicos the ability to avoid facing criminal prosecutions they consider unfair, an absurd proposition that violates several tenets of law and the constitution.

The stupidity at the leadership level of the Trumpublicans seems contagious, and it jeopardizes the entire two-party system in the U.S. Republicans have no policies to talk about in their campaign other than their support for Trump, a decision that is almost certain to lead to either the self-destruction of the party of Lincoln or the ruination of the nation he saved with his courageousness during the Civil War. The lickspittles who follow Trump around, polishing his shoes and his ego with their tongues, are not our only national problem. The justices he managed to place on the U.S. Supreme Court appear poised to offer their benefactor a limited immunity for his crimes. The fact that the court has taken months to issue a ruling is an obvious indication it is parsing language to explain why its majority believes Trump cannot and should not be punished for the January 6th insurrection and for creating slates of fraudulent electors to steal the White House from President Biden. Leaking legitimacy with every new ruling, the high court appears determined to keep stacking kindling in the tinder-dry forest of democracy.

There is an ocean of evidence that Trump is a blithering idiot and has still been embraced by more than 70 million Americans in the last election. It is not a minor problem that forty percent of the U.S. population, either cannot recognize evil and ignorance when they see it, or worse, they simply do not care. In a recent meeting with dozens of CEOs wanting to learn about his policy plans for business, the executives came out of the gathering claiming Trump could not make a complete sentence or assemble a cogent thought. Had they paid no attention to his ramblings at rallies for the mentally challenged? The CEOs showed their own idiocy by wasting time giving an audience to a man who is visibly coming undone before our eyes.

Americans have only themselves to blame for putting our country, and maybe the free world, on the precipice. We allowed Ronald Reagan to get rid of the Fairness Doctrine, which removed the responsibility for broadcasters to comply with the 1936 Communications Act requiring users of the public airwaves to operate in the “public interest, convenience, and necessity.” With that law eviscerated, along came cable political yak shows and, eventually, Rupert Murdoch, who sold his version of the world as facts to unsuspecting and unintelligent citizens. Political candidates realized they could use lying as a tactic and it would not harm their chances. Denial was a reliable practice, and became even more powerful when the conservative Supreme Court justices decided that “corporations were people” and could, therefore, turn on the spigots to create rivers of cash to elect radical conservatives, who, in turn gutted regulations on business that were designed to protect the environment and the public. Taxes were also cut to corporations, which drove the national debt skyward.

At a critical moment in history, we are once more divided against ourselves. Russia is on the move against Eastern Europe under the leadership of a madman, who has only been constrained through the years by the NATO Alliance. Putin threatens nuclear holocaust to end resistance to his slaughter while our homegrown madman offers to end the war by giving the lunatic leader what he wants in Ukraine. Israel is conducting a war of revenge against Hamas terrorists and is content to wipe out tens of thousands of innocent civilians in the process. There seems no restraint and this country keeps feeding the killing machine with bombs and billions. Christian Evangelicals push a Seven Mountain Mandate to ready the world for the return of their messiah and the acting out of Armageddon in the Holy Lands. Too many politicians bend to that magical thinking. Our economy, though, continues to thrive with record low unemployment and constantly ascendant numbers of new jobs and our uninformed masses still refuse to believe facts.

Into this fragile geo-political construct, we bring two men with a combined 160 years of living to lead us, though their plans are wildly divergent. One is accomplished as a legislator and statesman and has had four of the most consequential years of presidential leadership in modern American history. Even the voters who give him credit for saving the economy and jobs and businesses during the pandemic, however, think he might be too old, and that is a legitimate risk. Trump, who is only a few years younger, is more problematic for the rational thinker. He views every person and political issue and social dynamic as a mirror that must reflect compliments and greatness in his direction. His interest in governance is only to use its institutions for revenge. He was born into wealth and has used consistent failure as a marketing tool, refusing to pay his bills and lying about his businesses.

We may learn more on June 27 when the two meet at a debate in Atlanta to be aired on CNN. Trump is likely to sound like the drunk pushing an empty grocery cart through your neighborhood and there is a chance President Biden could have a Mitch McConnell moment, and freeze, uncertain of where he is and what he was just saying. Trump can be expected to slur words, insult minorities, and, as he already did, even denigrate the city where his party plans to nominate him as its candidate for president. There will be no hiding for either man. Microphones will be muted when it is not their turn to talk and there will be no audience to applaud or defy moderators who order them to be quiet at all times. This will be two men, too old, in many ways, to be president of the United States. President Biden has been a good president and is a good man, but the electorate clearly has doubts about whether he is up to the job for another term. Trump, of course, is an angry, divisive, convicted felon, and nothing more. What are we left with if both of these men falter on the debate stage and prove neither is right for the job?

Go ahead, pray for America. Or wish. Or hope. Or yearn. Just do something that helps.

James Moore is a New York Times bestselling author, political analyst, and business communications consultant who has been writing and reporting on Texas politics since 1975. He can be reached at