National Commentary

The Obama Antidote To Trump’s Poison

nfbenton-mugThis Tuesday, May 31, marked a distinct turning point in the 2016 race for the U.S. presidency. A big red-faced behemoth was shown on live national TV having been hit with grave slings and arrows bellowing like a wild-eyed elk in heat. Donald Trump was dealt serious blows by the media, at long last.

Kudos to those at the press conference Tuesday who did not back down in fear, who did not cower at the angry, roaring foul-mouthed protestations as this massively inflated ego began to show signs of deflating.

Even Trump’s most loyal minions had to step back and look at what they saw yesterday with a sense of awe. Their hero was reduced to a howling, stammering mess.

Donald Trump’s very limited vocabulary was taxed, driving him to his fall-back use of slurs against the reporters present as “losers,” “liars” and “sleaze,” and promising that just as distasteful as he’d been in that conference, he would be no different if he got into the White House.

He’s crude. He’s a thug. Now, the disclosures about his Trump University scam are showing him to be a con man of the first order, too.

His promises to “Make America Great Again” we can now see better were effective because they were laced with racist overtones that too many Americans have been eager to embrace ever since President Barack Obama was first sworn into the White House.

It is instructive that as vulgar and crude as Trump was so easily incited to become on Tuesday, the man who many signed on with Trump to vanquish, our sitting president, has taken the lead to offer Americans a markedly different course.

President Obama has used the last few months, and I trust he will the next as well, to offer the tone and inspiration that increasingly are becoming polar opposite of Trump. He did it in his commencement speech to the 2016 graduating class of Washington, D.C.’s Howard University, and more recently, he outdid himself once again in memorable remarks delivered at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Japan May 27.

Becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit this site where 71 years ago, as he put it, “On a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.”

He came there to make an appeal to humanity, he said, to choose a different course.

“In the image of a mushroom cloud that rose into these skies, we are most starkly reminded of humanity’s core contradiction; how the very spark that marks us as a species – our thoughts, our imagination, our language, our tool-making, our ability to set ourselves apart from nature and to bend it to our will – those very things also give us the capacity for unmatched destruction,” he said.

Now, he intoned, “We come to this place. We stand here, in the middle of this city, and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell. We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see.

“We listen to their silent cry. We remember all the innocents killed across the arc of that terrible war, and the wars that came before and the wars that would follow.”

In facing down this reality, he said, humanity must recognize that “we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.”

Since 1945, “We have made choices that give us hope,” he said, but added, “Our work is never done…We must change our mindset about war itself…and perhaps above all, we must reimagine our connection to one another as members of one human race. For this, too, is what makes our species unique. We’re not bound by genetic code to repeat the mistakes of the past.”

How better to frame the present circumstances of American politics. Simply put, Trump would have us revisit the coarsest mistakes of the past.