W.C. Fields and Donald Trump, lovable rogues

In 1934’s It’s a Gift, W.C. Fields perfected his role as the cantankerous, frustrated and unapologetic con man.  It’s one of the classic Hollywood comedies, and if you haven’t seen it you’re missing out.  Or check put The Bank Dick, which was the only film Fields made where he had complete artistic control.  He’s a cowardly bully and an outrageous liar, and people ate it up, because the character he played was consistent.

In his biography, W.C. Fields, James Curtis quotes Fields concerning the part he played, “The first thing I remember figuring out for myself was that I wanted to be a definite personality.  I had heard a man say he liked a certain fellow because he was always the same dirty damn so and so.  You know, like Larsen in Jack London’s Sea Wolf.  He was detestable, yet you admired him because he remained true to type.  Well, I thought that was a swell idea, so I developed a philosophy of my own.  Be your type.  I determined that whatever I was, I’d be that, I wouldn’t teeter on the fence.”   So Fields could kick dogs, pick fights with children and put a boot to Baby Leroy, cheat at cards and drink like a fish, and people liked him because he was being true to type.  In My Little Chickadee he’s bragging about having beaten up a tough woman saloon keeper, when the bartender interrupts to say that another man actually was the one who knocked her down.  He says, “Yeah, but I was the one who started kicking her.”

If you don’t see the analogy to Trump, you and I don’t think alike.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, for you.  But the Trump Tribe likes their man, warts and all, which is why he might win.  They don’t want him to change, and he doesn’t intend to.  I have been operating on the assumption that the Media Hive, led by its Queen, the New York Times, would destroy Trump once he was nominated.  They wanted him as the Republican standard bearer because he’s the only one Clinton could beat.  Months ago he did an interview with the NYT, the transcript of which they have refused to release.  Just wait.  We’ll see it, or salacious parts of it, in September.  The October Surprise may be his tax returns, or maybe something else.  They’ve got a lot to work with.  Some of it will stick, and take him down.

Or will it?  Reagan was said to be a teflon politician  —  you couldn’t scratch him with a knife.  He said things that the media thought were outrageous. like trees causing pollution, or men leaving caves as habitations only because of women, or, when he thought the mike was off, “We’re bombing the Soviets in five minutes,” and never paid a political price.  He was the real deal, regardless of what he said, and maybe there’s some of that in Trump.  But Trump’s no Reagan, who was sui generis.  He’s more like W. C. Fields, and maybe that’s good enough.

We’ll all get to find out in a couple months.

The good news from Cleveland is the inclusion of the Transfer of Public Lands in the Platform.  The next step is the introduction of TPL legislation in Congress, which should happen shortly.   No news on inclusion of an Article V endorsement.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  I may not have this Presidential election thingy figured out (who does?), but I know this country needs Article V, and soon.



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