Peter Coy over at Bloomberg Businessweek has a “bah humbug” of a column for you eight days out from Christmas. “It’s the economy, loser,” he grumbles in the subhead as a partial explanation of the title: “Why This Year’s Christmas Season Is So Angry.”
But before Coy turns to the main theme two thirds of the way in, he takes a detour through another season: the election season. Here are the opening three paragraphs of the article:
Diane Farmer, 54, is a lifelong Democrat from the New York City area now living in Palm Beach County, Fla. She attended Catholic schools and later belonged to unions while working for a phone company and then in a court clerk’s office. She voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. But Farmer says she’s never been more excited about a candidate than she is this time. Her choice? Donald Trump.
The convert to Trumpism shared her enthusiasm while stopping by glitzy Trump Tower on New York’s Fifth Avenue to pick up her fifth “Make America Great Again” cap (free with every $30 campaign contribution). “What he’s saying is what everybody’s thinking,” she said. “Too many people are getting free stuff. We should send the illegals out of the country. I want them off welfare and food stamps. Go home, and come back again when you’re ready to work.” As for the Middle East: “We should have dropped the bomb and ended the issue. We need to annihilate that, uh …,” she said, trailing off.
This holiday season, Trump’s glowing fireplace of fury is firing up people like Farmer who used to look to the left — as well as a surprisingly wide swath of the Republican Party — for answers. He’s scoring his highest numbers ever among Republican primary voters — 35 percent, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Enthusiasm for him only grew after he called for a ban on Muslims entering the country. To some, he seems divisive, but not to Farmer. “I thought Obama would be a unifier since he’s black and white and Muslim [sic]. But he’s an antagonizer,” she said. “We need to try something different. We can’t live like this.”
Without getting too deeply into the psyche of Diane Farmer or of the self-styled “party of intellect” (aka Democrats), her comments offer some insight into Trump’s popularity. Which is to say that voters are behind him for many of the same reasons that drove them to back Obama.
Grandiose promises. Trump has said he is going to build a wall along the southern border and that Mexico is going to pay for it. He has never explained how he is going to make that happen, but the boast is no less ambitious than Obama’s claims that he was going to change the way Washington worked, usher in an era of post-partisanship, and all that other feel-good claptrap he spouted to win election.
Combative style. Like Trump, who never minces words in deriding people who aren’t willing to kiss the hem of his gown, Obama, as early as his first campaign, regularly and repeatedly castigated Republicans, even calling “the enemy” on one choice occasion.
Egotism. Trump never gets tired of reminding anyone who will listen that he’s number one in the polls, and he judges the worthiness of colleagues by how “nice” they are him. Obama’s narcissism has been well documented in these pages (here and here, for example).
About the only important difference I can find between the two men is in executive experience. Obama had none coming into the 2008 election, whereas Trump has plenty.
*UPDATE* Generally, opinion pieces, of which this is one, don’t get updated, but I just got wind of a piece by colleague Jeff Dunetz that appears at his blog The Lid titled “Donald Trump acts like Barack Obama during Morning Joe interview.” It seemed to be too great a coincidence to pass up. Here’s the opening graf:
With each passing day Donald Trump is beginning to sound more and more like Barack Obama. It’s not just his thin skin and the way he lashes out to anyone who disagrees with him, nor is it the fact that he pivoted right to run for president, until recent years he was both pro-abortion and pro-amnesty for illegals (before anyone makes the claim everyone has a right to change their opinion, you are right– but I don’t hear anybody saying that about Rubio).