When I was young, one of the heroes of the churches I went to was Bob Harrington, the so-called Chaplain of Bourbon Street. Bob had made a big name for himself by ministering in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and was a major celebrity on the evangelical circuit in the 1970s. Of course, there was more hype than substance to this.
When I stayed in the French Quarter to do street evangelism in 1986, some of the people in our group asked our host where Harrington was, and why he wasn’t there ministering.
“When has he ever ministered in the French Quarter?” our host answered. He went on the explain that Harrington’s ministry had always been a charade and that the man had never really done much work in the French Quarter.
During the height of his fame, Harrington “debated” atheism with Madalyn Murray O’Hair, first on Donahue, and then in a touring roadshow. The debates were quite theatrical, with plenty of red meat to please both sides of the issue. However, as William Murray, O’Hair’s son, later recounted in his book My Life Without God, the debates were a complete fraud–after each debate, they would meet and divide up the money over a bottle of whiskey, laughing at the way they had conned everyone.
In short, the debates were nothing more than a money-making venture for both parties. Of course, one rejoinder is that whatever his motives, Bob Harrington was still speaking the truth and some good may have come of it.
This may be an accurate assessment. For example, my father found freedom and deliverance from Mike Warnke’s The Satan Seller, even though that book was later debunked as a complete fraud. Truth is truth, even when spoken by a liar, and truth brings light.
At the same time, do you really want someone who is morally bankrupt to be your pastor or your leader? Merely because someone says something you happen to agree with, are they worthy of your support and praise, and should their errors be glossed over? Arguably, the best thing that ever happened to Harrington and Warnke is that they were exposed for the frauds that they were. At least in Harrington’s case, this has led to a degree of repentance. If one really claims to love such people, then for their own sakes, if for no other reason, they need to be exposed for what they are. It may be their only hope.
Which brings us to Donald Trump.
In 2004, Donald Trump noted that he identified more as a Democrat than as a Republican:
And as late as April 2009, Trump was giving high marks to President Obama. In an interview with Larry King, Trump said,
Well, I think he’s sort of a guy that just has a wonderful personality, a good speaker, somebody that people trust. And I also think that the comparison with his predecessor is so different — it’s so huge that it really has made a great impact on people … I think he’s doing a really good job… He’s totally a champion.
Finally, Trump has been a big financial supporter of the Democrats over the years:
The real estate mogul and “Celebrity Apprentice” host has made more than $1.3 million in donations over the years to candidates nationwide, with 54 percent of the money going to Democrats, according to a Washington Post analysis of state and federal disclosure records.
Recipients include Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), former Pennsylvania governor Edward G. Rendell, and Rahm Emanuel, a former aide to President Obama who received $50,000 from Trump during his recent run to become Chicago’s mayor, records show. Many of the contributions have been concentrated in New York, Florida and other states where Trump has substantial real estate and casino interests.
In this regard, Trump has been especially close to the Clintons:
[Trump] has been especially cozy — financially and personally — with Hillary Clinton.
Clinton, the Democratic front-runner and former New York senator who had some say over policy that could have impacted Trump’s vast business dealings, received donations from both him and son Donald Trump Jr. on separate occasions in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007, according to state and federal disclosure records.
Trump has also been generous with the Clinton Foundation, donating at least $100,000, according to the non-profit.
In another sign of their closeness, Clinton attended Trump’s 2005 wedding to current wife Melania Knauss at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, along with the likes of Katie Couric, Billy Joel and then-“American Idol” judge Simon Cowell. (According to People, Clinton had front-pew seating. Though Bill missed the ceremony itself, he did show up to the reception.)
Trump’s retort is that as a businessman he sees fit to curry favor with people on all sides of the political spectrum, but that in his heart he is really a conservative. Let’s skip over the fact that giving money and support to politicians in the hope of receiving quid pro quo is the very essence of corruption and crony capitalism, and ask where, before he sought to curry favor with Republican voters, Trump really stood on the issues.
Immigration: You seem to think he’s an immigration hardliner, and he’s certainly pretending to be. But why can’t you see through it? He condemned Mitt Romney as an immigration hardliner in 2012 and favored comprehensive immigration reform. He told Bill O’Reilly he was in favor of a “path to citizenship” for 30 million illegal immigrants:
Trump: You have to give them a path. You have 20 million, 30 million, nobody knows what it is. It used to be 11 million. Now, today I hear it’s 11, but I don’t think it’s 11. I actually heard you probably have 30 million. You have to give them a path, and you have to make it possible for them to succeed. You have to do that.
Question: Just how many rapists and drug dealers did Donald Trump want to give green cards to?
Abortion: In 1999 he said, “I’m totally pro-choice. I hate it and I hate saying it. And I’m almost ashamed to say that I’m pro-choice but I am pro-choice because I think we have no choice.” Man, it’s like he’s channeling Thomas Aquinas there. Now he says he’s pro-life. But I’ll spare the mocking on this because at least he’s flip-flopping in the right direction, and I don’t like to second guess peoples’ professed religious convictions.
Obamacare: The man wrote in his own book and said elsewhere that he was in favor of Canadian-style socialized medicine — which would put him to the left of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and on pretty much the same page as Bernie Sanders.
Hillary: Speaking of her, Trump praised Hillary Clinton and her health-care reform plan — in 2007! She attended his (most recent) wedding. He donated to her campaigns and to the Clinton Foundation. In 2008, he couldn’t get his head around the fact that Obama didn’t pick her for VP. “I’m a big fan of Hillary. She’s a terrific woman. She’s a friend of mine.”
Economics: People tout the guy’s business record. But he represents almost exactly what his supporters think he opposes. He’s a crony capitalist par excellence. He gives to whatever politician can grease the skids for his next deal — and he makes no apologies for it. He’s an eminent-domain voluptuary. He abuses bankruptcy laws like a stack of homemade get-out-of-jail-free cards.
So, who–or what–is Trump really?
Trump is first of all a huckster, which is another way of saying that he is a fraud and a con man. He is in it for himself, and will do anything and say anything if he thinks it will bring profit to himself. He is certainly not in it for the American people or because he loves his country.
Yet, behind all of his bluster and bombast, politically Trump is well to the left of every Republican candidates running for president, and the vast majority of Republican voters. Perhaps this is why, instead of debating the issues with other Republicans, he just hurls insults at them.
Finally, no matter what Trump may say right now, it is hard to believe that he would really regret Hillary becoming president. Indeed, a number of people have speculated that Trump is really a stalking horse for Hillary. That is, his purpose is to advance Hillary’s campaign. And Trump’s campaign has already had that effect, by sucking all of the air out of the room for a host of otherwise viable conservative candidates, and by diverting national attention away from Hillary’s many questionable positions and scandals. If Trump were to win the nomination, it would be a win-win for him, as it does not matter to him who is in the White House so long as it is either him or Hillary. And, if Trump does not get the GOP nomination, he can run as an independent, guaranteeing a Hillary win.
So in the end, when all is said and done, no matter who wins the election, Hillary and Donald will go to a back room, and divide the spoils over a bottle of whiskey, laughing at the gullibility of the American voters.
“But Trump is telling the truth to power!”
That’s what hucksters do–they tell you what you want to hear as they pick your pocket.
“But Trump is the only one telling the truth right now!”
That’s not true at all. Cruz, Perry, Fiorina, Rubio, Walker, and a whole host of other candidates have been sounding off loudly on the issues, and have also been attacking Hillary–something by and large Trump refuses to do–but Trump has stolen all of their press.
“But it doesn’t matter what his motives are, he’s telling the truth!”
Whether he tells the truth or not, do you really want a fraud for your president? Or have you been happy with the last eight years with a snake-oil-salesman as commander in chief?
“Telling the truth” is what hucksters do, and many of them are so good at it that they even start to believe the crap they are spewing. However, if America is to be saved, we must stop allowing ourselves to be taken in by con men and rank frauds such as Donald Trump.