Friday, July 22, 2016

Ben Fountain - Donald Trump: the madman in his castle

So after a miserable couple of weeks for everyone who gives a damn about peace, love and understanding, and with more bad news shortly on the way from Baton Rouge, the word came down in Cleveland: no tennis balls.

For the sake of public safety and national security, no tennis balls would be allowed in the cordon sanitaire around the Quicken Loans Arena, site of the Republican national convention, nor would water guns, toy guns, knives, rope, tape, umbrellas with metal tips, light bulbs, gas masks or several dozen other items. Guns, however, were authorized. Guns were OK, a pronouncement that was quickly taken up by groups as divergent in their orientations as Bikers For Trump and the New Black Panthers, among others

Barely a week after five police officers were shot dead in Dallas at a Black Lives Matter march, Cleveland was duty-bound to follow Ohio’s open-carry statute. “Our intent is to follow the law,” said a stiff-lipped mayor Frank G Jackson. “And the law says you can have open carry, that’s what it says. Whether I agree with it or not is another issue.”

Guns allowed, but no tennis balls. It’s the sort of garishly insane proposition that’s just another normal day in America, the kind of stunt that a bunch of latter-day Dadaists might pull to highlight societal derangement and degradation. Let the word go forth: America has lost its mind! Or maybe dementia serves as a better metaphor, the country shuffling around like a bonkers senior citizen with a Depends on his head and Kleenex boxes for shoes.

Walking down Euclid Avenue on the second day of the convention, along a raucous urban stretch of bars and tourist joints and overheated sidewalk peddlers pushing T-shirts and Trump-related campaign junk, I came upon a street preacher raging at the heathen through an amplifier rigged to his God-truck, an apocalypse on wheels decorated with photos of aborted fetuses, starving Africans, scrawl-painted Bible verses and similar visual aids. But that wasn’t God talking back at him from above, no, but a heavyset black woman leaning out her second-storey window bellowing “Preach love! Preach love! Preach love!” and “You don’t know nothin’ about being a woman in this world!”

A debate between prophets, while right around the corner MSNBC was broadcasting live from a mobile studio, political blather booming up and down Fourth Street... read more: