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Joel BelzVoices Joel Belz

An arrogant blowhard

A presidential candidate’s promise and pretense reach a new level

An arrogant blowhard

Donald Trump (Associated Press/Photo by Charles Krupa)

“I’m rich. I’m incredibly rich. And I can use my money to make people do what I want them to do. I know that because I’ve done it—lots of times. That’s the way the system works.”

You know, of course, who said that. And this: “I’m smarter than any of them—and I can prove it. They’re all just as stupid as the stupid people running the government right now.”

You don’t have to listen to Donald Trump for more than a few minutes to determine that you’re tuned in not to a statesman leader but to an arrogant blowhard. If he were your father or uncle, you’d be embarrassed to have him appear in public—or maybe even at the family dinner table. Certainly, you’d hope he was never appointed as an officer in your church. Is it imaginable to think of his ever being quoted in a history book?

With all the blarney and bluster that emerges almost every time Trump opens his mouth, you can’t help marveling that millions of Americans have apparently bought into his legitimacy. “I like his honesty,” a friend (and WORLD reader) told me last week. “He doesn’t promise and pretend the way the other politicians do.”

What commitments, except his own personal wealth, are suggested by his lifetime record? What causes has he championed?

I agree. Instead of promising and pretending the way the others do, he carries it to a new level. Most of us have developed a certain immunity to the bluff of typical politicians. Discerning the mystery of Trump the cult leader is something else again.

So I don’t know. Trump’s glib promises about exporting 11 million illegal immigrants, along with his slick guarantees about building an impenetrable wall along the U.S.-Mexico border—they’re all just as oily as his smooth promise that the Bible is his favorite book. That detail would be a bit more believable if just once in his talkative career we’d ever heard Trump quote from that favorite source, much less thoughtfully root one of his public policy positions in a biblical truth. “The Bible means a lot to me,” Trump told a Washington Post reporter who asked him what his favorite verse was, “but I don’t want to get into specifics.”

The refusal to “get into specifics” is a warning bell. Here is a man who still has barely suggested what issues he thinks are important to his fellow citizens—except to blast frivolously away on the immigration theme. And when he focuses on that topic, he comes across as empty-headed about the cost of carrying out his goals, empty-headed about the impact on America’s labor force, and empty-headed about the process. “Trust me,” he says. “I know how to manage big projects.”

And beyond that, what? What commitments, except his own personal wealth, are suggested by his lifetime record? What causes has he championed?

What about his record of leading four of his companies into bankruptcy? “It was all legal,” he says lamely. Google the internet, if you will. For all that omniscient power, you’ll find it tricky to find Donald Trump in a thoughtful discussion on any ethical theme. When he disagrees with a reporter or a challenger on any subject, Trump inevitably moves the discussion toward a physical altercation—often literally lunging toward the person he’s conversing with.

Do you look at Trump and see a unifier? It’s hard to imagine anyone moving into the White House and doing a worse job at unifying his nation than Barack Obama has done. But Trump would go, if elected, owning a huge head start as the new Divider-in-Chief. A smirk and a snarl are his trademarks.

With more than 20 men and women from the two major political parties now vying to be nominated to a try for the presidency in the 2016 general election, it’s admittedly a little tricky to sort out better from best. But in this unique lineup, it shouldn’t be so hard to identify the fraudulent worst.

Email jbelz@wng.org

Comments

  • rbg3
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Joel, thank you, thank you, thank you.  It has been extremely distressing to see that opinion polls have evangelicals supporting Trump.   We need World and other evangelical voices to make clear that Trump does not represent what evangelicals believe in, and you have done so forcefully and clearly in this editorial.   Trump conducts himself like a third-world strong man -- arrogant, brash, denigrating any who oppose, and too contemptuous of the citizenry to bother to explain himself.  If evangelicals made clear that Trump is not acceptable as a candidate, he would be out of the primaries.

  • Dorothy Gable
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Excellent analysis of Trump as President. He is not a statesman or one who understands our republican democracy. He marches to the same tune as our current president who believes he knows best how to run our country with a phone and a pen. Trump boasts he can finance his own campaign, therefore, he will not be bought by big money - worse, he is big money. Do we believe if a bill crosses his desk that will help small business and even the playing field, yet is disadvantageous to one of his many enterprises that he will sign it? Does it seem credible that he will advance small government proposals that will unleash the bound potential of our economy? Just last week he boasted he would make US businesses bring their wealth back to America. Our wealth comes from all levels of our economy engaging in business. He states he would impose tariffs on all goods not produced in the United States. A quick review of history shows us tariffs help large businesses, hurt the consumer, and have even incited wars and worsened the world economy. He states we just have incompetent leaders. If we had smart people running our big government, it would work - trust him. It is unfortunate people are looking for that one strong leader that will solve all their problems. Just as many saw Obama as a blank slate upon which they could find their dreams fulfilled, many seem to be projecting their hopes and wishes on Trump. Yes, Trump is doing well because the current Republican leadership has failed. We need to find and support good candidate that understand how to run government well. They do exist.

  • bwsmith's picture
    bwsmith
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    More thanks for describing a man who is playing off our anxiety -- he is not leading us anywhere except into a very dark corner. 

  • proudmama
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Obama has done nothing but to divide this country - we are more polarized than ever.  He's also crippled us financially & weakened us globally.  Perhaps Trump wouldn't be the unifier - but maybe we don't need to be unified, as much as we need to be great again.  Someone who actually believes in American Exceptionalism.   You say, "except for his personal wealth" - but this is exactly why I & others support him.   He's been absolutely brilliant at doing just that - creating incredible wealth for himself.  America needs some of his shrewd business-mindedness to create jobs & restore wealth.  No more lousy deals, bad trades, & getting ripped off by other countries - tired of the incompetence & yes, stupidity in the WH.   I want a smirk and a snarl from the President when dealing with the terrorists, our enemies.  After 8 years of Obama's timidity, meekness, weakness, & literally apologizing for America - no wonder Trump is in the lead. 

  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    I think a lot of people, like myself, have wanted Trump to say some of the things that he has said and have always hoped he would be a flash in the pan that would spark some really strong candidate to stand up on their hind legs and speak the truth boldly.  We need to stop apologizing for believing in something and say what we think.  I am now ready for a more serious candidate.  

  • kk
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Look at the facts.  Until recently, he has always been close friends with Bill & Hillary.  Even paid them to come to his wedding.  He's also given lots of money to liberal candidates.  He has supported abortion (even partial birth), single payer system & besides four "legal" bankruptcies, has used the government rules of eminent domain to take private property for his own business.  He even recently said unlike the other republican candidates that he could not rescind the Iran deal, but would hold them accountable and that we should still support Planned Parenthood, (though they shouldn't be doing abortions) because they care for women's health.  That's a conservative?   And do we want a 1st lady who posts pictures of herself in a bikini and has even posed nude for some lesbian organization or magazine?   Is this really a man of character?  I guess like love, marriage, gay, Christian and republican, even the definition conservative has changed.  "Those who have eyes to see, let them see..."

  • Janet B
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Hear, Hear, wakeup999!!  I wondered if anyone was awake when it came to Donald Trump.

  • Tfarr
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Right on.  I find it interesting that so many find Trump refreshing and honest.  Have we become so blind that we cannot see the truth men's nothing to him.

  • Janice G's picture
    Janice G
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Recently all I could say about the whole situation is that I don't want to see that hair in the White House. Not P.C., but that's okay. I did not know how exactly to state my distaste for the idea. I am sure that with all his money he can afford a better abode. All that to say that you have said in words what my emotions were feeling about this situation.

  • OrthodoxJ
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    That was a good article.

  • careyrowland
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    We need to stop him.

  • philclandeb
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Agree with you wholeheartedly. I get people view Mr. Trump as non-political; that he is doing so well in the polls is a sad commentary on either how seriously people consider the ramifications of who they support (and then vote for), the ability of the American public to think critically, or how totally fed up with our public officials we've become.  I do not believe Mr. Trump would be an improvement. He is extremely arrogant and I don't think he is honest at all; how can people not see it??!!

  • Peter Allen's picture
    Peter Allen
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Perhaps we would not all be so angry and receptive to Trump if we remember what the bible has to say about the immigrant.  Or that on the Statue of Liberty it says, 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.'   And that quite frankly we need more young large families to help pay for our retirement some day lest we go the way of Greece.  As a third generation Norwegian I have to wonder if the family would  have been better off to have stayed there the way the U.S. is going.  Give it another 20 years and they won't desire to come.  Then we will want them.    

  • Peter Allen's picture
    Peter Allen
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    I am not so certain we want a Christian president.  The stones that would be thrown, media bias, blaming, etc would be awful within this U.S. post Christian culture.  Sometimes consequences of sin must be fully felt before people are receptive to the gospel or to a Christian leader.  What ever the outcome of the elections, we as Christians need to be on the ready.  We need to keep shining the light so the the prodicals can see home.  Get ready for grace to flow.  Because were sin abounds, grace abounds more. 

  • Lutfmatratze's picture
    Lutfmatratze
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Huh, for a second I thought this article was going to be about its author.

  • Karen for Life
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Primaries are where WE choose the candidates on our November ballot. Friends, are you doing more than complaining? Are you working for and giving to a credible, reasoned, character-filled candidate? We even have some godly, politically successful ones to choose from. Get busy, folks! We can't let this degenerate into an "American Idol" presidential contest.

  • Jampa's picture
    Jampa
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Agree 100%!

  • IOLA COX
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Trump is not a conservative.  He's always been in the business of buying off politicians and now he's just trying to eliminate the middle man.  I feel like he is leading in the polls because the conservative vote is split between so many good possibilities.  Conservatives need to unite behind one good contender.  If Trump is still in the lead when the primaries come to my state I will vote for the candidate who is the closest to beating Trump.  If it ends up being Trump vs. Hillary, I will not vote for a president.

  • Timmons's picture
    Timmons
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Well said.

  • wdane's picture
    wdane
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    A persistent "my way or the highway" attitude suggests an arrogant, "I know best" approach to leading and working with people that indicates a dictatorial personality. Money and the power it offers to influence/control others is his claim to fame. "Blowhard" is apt in describing a lot of hot air that evades and substitutes for sound policy plans. In Romans chapter one the Apostle Paul points out that the collective choices of people become their judgment. "God gave them over to..." We are currently experiencing what the collective choice of voters has led to for our nation. We do well to heed the divine warning of what can happen to this government of, by and for the people as a result of future choices made collectively at the ballot box.

  • G and C P's picture
    G and C P
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    I don't understand why World subscribers would come after Donald Trump. He's literally teaching the Republican field how the media and the Left need to be dealt with in today's world. Since Reagan, Republicans have been mealy-mouthed and unable to stand up for themselves. The media and the Left say "boo," and Republicans jump, then apologize for anything. Trump never apologizes, and I love that. We are losing the battle in the culture, b/c the majority of Americans are afraid to speak up for what they know is right. Trump is not afraid. The Left sure isn't afraid. 

  • Allen Johnson
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Donald Trump becoming a deal maker or nominee for the Republican Party presidency will expose the social collusion of social conservatives and monetary conservatives. Let's face it, Trump obviously has an unrepentant adulterous past, is a gambling casino mogul, obviously loves and serves Mammon (see Matthew 6:24 for a refresher), and has waffled on abortion with latest statements appearing to come off as pandering to conservative religion.Trump is tapping into the high level of angry  resentment and scapegoating that permeates much of the American citizenry as their dreams burst like soap bubbles.Joel Belz, you've drawn a good bead on Donald Trump. Now you need to look into the eyes and hearts of his supporters, some of whom as you say are World readers, and see why they are being bamboozled. (and it might not be pretty)

  • hawaiicharles
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    I feel a lot like socialworker above.  My father told me recently "For the past several elections, I felt like I was voting against someone rather than for someone."  I had to agree.  I've been really hoping this time it will be different.  There are a handful of candidates that I could really feel good voting for.  Mr. Trump is not one of them.  I hope and pray that Republican voters will come to their senses and consider what are the real qualities we should be seeking in our leaders.I absolutely will not vote for Mr. Trump under any circumstances.  If his name ends up on the ballot, I'll leave it blank.

  • twinelms
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    I'll vote for the Donald over Hillary any day.  

  • phillipW's picture
    phillipW
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Trump is P.T. Barnum with a limousine and handlers.

  • Stephen L
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    When I saw your title for a split second I wondered who was the arrogant blowhard. Of course the current race takes precedence, so of course The Donald! Agree. But your title also fits what we have witnessed in the WH in the last seven years. Just too few were courageous enough to speak the obvious. The Donald spoke at Liberty U last year and offered the advice to the students to wit, "in the business world if someone gets you, get even!" It should be noted that Liberty has also put Bernie Sanders on their speakers list this year.Stephen Leonard

  • ByronE
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    You read information on his wealth and it reads somewhat like the Federal financing of this country.. Mistakes, successes and luck. Along with almost failure. Who says he isn't an experienced politician. It is a matter of interpretation..

  • Buddy's picture
    Buddy
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Wonderful read Joel.
    From what I see Trump has spoken strongly about stopping the inflow of illegal immigrants and returning those that are here to their home country. This is what's making him so popular, others take note. He does not have a true conservative past and his insulting, self pride is off the scale. Could this be God showing us how he (God) looks on our countries pride in our newfound liberal freedom and rights?
    Trump seems not far from calling his self god and you know the rest of the story.

  • Rich277
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    He's a salesman.  And he's sold a lot of people a message they want to hear.  But you have to ask yourself this: will this guy stand behind the message like a true believer or like a used car salesman stands behind the car he's trying to sell?

  • Laura L Murphy's picture
    Laura L Murphy
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Agreed. And while continue to shake my head at his lead in the polls, I remind myself that the GOP is not made up, even largely, of conservative Christians. There are many who deceive themselves into the "socially liberal/politically conservative" mindset and Mr. Trump easily appeals to that base. Of course the Lord is sovereign and it may just be that He will allow us to experience the heat of going from the frying pan into the fire of further division or, if I may suggest, isolation. His riches may allow him to not "worry" about being PC but his historically socially liberal views don't need much adjusting to fit right into the left's agenda. During the campaign I imagine he'll throw us, conservative Christians, a bone or two to keep PC with the further right. If elected, I don't imagine this Emperor will invite us to court.

  • CindyZ
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    LOL....I know why I love your magazine.  

  • Neil Evans's picture
    Neil Evans
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    AMEN!

  • socialworker
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    I've been praying for months that God would raise up someone to lead us toward truth and righteousness as a nation.  I was really encouraged by the field for a while and now I have to ask God "Really?  Trump is the one being raised up?"   Hopefully His answer is no, and this will be a passing fling with the American people.  But I guess God has allowed other flamboyant people to be in power.  I'm like a lot of Christians.  If the remaining choice next November is Trump and anyone in the Democrat field, I'll be voting for Trump and hope for the best.. 

  • marianne
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    We wouldn't have Tump  on the scene if we had leaders with spine, purpose and  a positive vision for this country.   It's still early; God is sovereign and He's got it covered.

  • rom828
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    He may or may not be the worst. However, what people like about him, is that he doesn't fear being politically incorrect. He doesn't fear being ostracized by the media. Conservatives generally see two options in presidential elections. 1. Vote for someone with similar beliefs who probably doesn't stand a chance of getting elected. 2. Vote for a liberal republican who is the lesser of two evils. Don't be surprised if many conservatives vote for someone who seems to have strong conservative values and is actually leading in the polls.

  • wakeup999
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    THANK YOU JOEL! Finally, someone who has the wisdom to call a spade a spade.

  • NC Publisher No More
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:41 am

    Amen!