Embattled Trump finds allies and inspiration in the lunatic fringe

There are compelling reasons not to vote for Donald Trump. He has the emotional temperament of a spoiled 14-year-old girl — everything is someone else’s fault and any rare apology is insincere and grudging. His attitude toward sex and women mirrors those of an obnoxious frat boy — girls are sex toys to be rated and groped. And he exhibits the ignorance of a drunk on a tirade at the end of a bar — red rage aimed at imagined enemies and wedded to simplistic solutions based on clichés, stereotypes and conspiracy theories.

Nevertheless, despite the many things that disqualify him, there has been the faint hope that, should a Trump presidency come about, it would not turn out as badly as it could because he would surround himself with capable people who would run the country while he kept busy tweeting, nursing grudges and having his hair refurbished.

Some of this wishful thinking was based on the false image of Trump as a wildly successful businessman. Now that there is plenty of evidence that Trump is a better con man than businessman, it seems less likely that he would be able to draft a team of masters of the universe from the corporate world to staff his administration.

Still, he could assemble the usual crew of Republican stalwarts, couldn’t he? Well, perhaps not — not after breaking so dramatically with the GOP establishment. So, who would Trump find to guide America’s destiny? If the path of his campaign is any indication, the answer to that question is clear: the kooks and conspiracy theorists of the extreme right.

Trump has long peppered his public pronouncements with the phrase “some people say.” When those “people” actually exist, rather than being figments of Trump’s imagination, they are invariably right-wing talk radio entertainers and paranoid doomsayers with bizarre takes on reality. In 2011, Trump famously latched on to one of their more inflammatory fantasies — that President Obama was not born in the United States — and ran with it. Now, as his campaign for president is sinking into the scum of a sex harassment scandal, he is acting like a guy who is relying on the crazies for guidance.

Trump’s current rants about a rigged election, voter fraud, media conspiracies and a cartel of international bankers taking over the government are ripped from the dark musings of fevered minds on the right. If he were president, it seems highly likely that he would continue to look to the same sources for inspiration. After all, his campaign CEO, Steve Bannon, comes from the “alt-right” crowd.

Imagine a presidency steered by the fierce fantasies of someone like Alex Jones, a Trump fan and radio host who Rolling Stone magazine dubbed “a giant in America’s conspiracy subculture.” Jones has come up with some interesting ideas. He has said the horrific slaying of schoolchildren and teachers at Sandy Hook was staged by actors to drum up support for gun control. He has said terror attacks in Orlando, San Bernardino and on 9/11 were engineered by sinister forces inside the U.S. government. He has said military maneuvers in the Southwest were a ruse to cover up a federal takeover of Texas. He has said the government has a weather weapon that "can create and steer groups of tornadoes.” He has said that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered by the Obama administration and that Bill and Hillary Clinton have been responsible for numerous homicides throughout their political careers.

Jones is a loon, but his crackpot theories are believed by a significant number of Trump supporters and, apparently, by Trump himself. When Trump came to California in May and said the state’s multiyear drought was not real, he was repeating a Jones-inspired theme. Trump sat for an extended interview on Jones’ show that was filled with statements of mutual admiration. “Your reputation is amazing,” Trump told Jones.

If all the other reasons not to vote for Trump are not enough, this one should be the clincher: The right-wing lunatics who have been kept away from the levers of power even in conservative Republican administrations would find an open door at the Trump White House.


Follow me at @davidhorsey on Twitter


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