Editor’s Note: Joe Registrato’s After The Morning After column is Joe’s way of saluting and remembering Tom McEwen, the late, great Sports Editor of The Tampa Tribune, whose Morning After column was a staple of the original Tribune for more than 30 years.
I spent the week like most people, I guess, trying to make sense of the fact that Americans have knowingly selected reality-show guy Donald Trump to be President of the United States.
I say knowingly because the news media delivered this guy up on a silver platter, sliced and diced him, put all or most all of his warts out there for public viewing, all it found out about, anyway, like not paying taxes all his life despite becoming a billionaire, molesting every woman he ever met except maybe his grandmother (as long as they were hot enough to deserve the honor), bankrupting eight or nine companies, including gambling casinos and a Vodka-making operation, running a diploma mill that basically conned people out of their money; to say nothing of spending the past year or so on national television spreading hatred and racism, pledging to toss Mexicans out of the country and stop Muslims from coming in, making fun of a disabled news reporter, claiming a federal judge couldn’t be fair to him because his (the judge’s) parents came from Mexico, dissing war hero John McCain and the Muslim family whose son was killed fighting for the United States, seriously suggesting the news media was part of a group of conspirators who had rigged the electoral process against him, then toss in the fact that he’s never in his life been elected to anything except maybe class clown. I wouldn’t have given a person with that resume a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected dogcatcher.
But, America said, oh, never mind all that, this guy is going to (correct me if I’ve left something out here), “make America great again.”
What does one say? Forget “Jeopardy;” is “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader” still on the air?
Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Circus magnate P. T. Barnum gets the credit for remarking on the collective smarts of Americans by famously observing “there’s a sucker born every minute.” And while there is some question about whether it was Barnum who delivered the line, nobody has ever argued with its wisdom.
Remember it was Charles Ponzi who first came up with the idea of stealing people’s money by convincing them he was making them rich back in 1915, and while this scam has been so widely reported it must qualify as common knowledge in every quarter of the world, even to the point that the game is now known as a “Ponzi scheme,” Bernie Madoff was still pulling the exact same scam right up until he was nailed in 2012. So that’s right around a hundred years that “people,” by which I mean American citizens, including those who vote, obviously, continue to be beaten out of their hard earned bucks by con men.
By the way, the term “con job” or “con man” is derived from the fact that thieves of this particular ilk get your money by instilling in you “confidence” that they are on the up and up, that you can trust them to “make you rich,” or, they might convince you they will “make something great again,” without telling you how exactly they plan to do so. An example at random of such an attempt might be if a person who promised to wipe out a certain brand of terrorism said to you, “I know more than the generals, believe me.” See there, Americans? Note the similarity in terminology: “Con man” “Confidence.” Got it?
At first I thought I’d make light of the whole thing. Like, how can we make the best of a bad situation? Such as why don’t we pool our money and start an airline that specializes in direct, one-way flights from selected Southwest cities to Mexico? Phoenix, San Antonio, Los Angeles, to Mexico. Get it? One-way flights? No Mexicans coming back. We’ll apply for a government contract. The President will love it. Funny right? Or how about investing in Texas companies that build walls? Big walls, big enough to…oh, you know.
But then, something must be wrong because there are people out there protesting. Protesting? Protesting what? Last time I checked, we live in a democracy. That means, among other things, “majority rules.” The majority has voted. It’s over. You guys can go home now. Come back in about three years, when the next election will gear up. Okay? Bye.
But really, this is a serious thing. We can’t make jokes. No, we’ve got to engage at the very least in a few hours of hand-wringing, worrying about the future, the nuclear bombs, Mexicans, Muslims, what if everybody quits paying taxes, will the generals be fired, what’s it going to be like being friends with Russia, will I get to keep writing opinion columns, and very seriously, what about the New York Times?
The way Trump trashes the media is especially worrisome. If you can keep the populace in the dark, which as discussed is not that difficult considering the intelligence level out there, then you’re half way to complete rule. Get rid of newspapers, television news stations, everybody that disagrees with you, maybe including AliveTampaBay.
An example is a newspaper called The Munich Post which was published during the 1900s in Germany. Ron Rosenbaum who wrote a book called Explaining Hitler, said the Post was “the first to tangle with (Hitler), the first to ridicule him, the first to investigate him, the first to expose the seamy underside of his party, the murderous criminal behavior masked by its pretensions to being a political movement. They were the first to attempt to alert the world to the nature of the rough beast slouching towards Berlin.”
Rosenbaum said that Hitler used the word “poison” when he spoke of The Post, which showed just how much he despised the newspaper. After Hitler came to power in 1933, Rosenbaum reported that the editors and writers were sent to concentration camps and the Post offices gutted and destroyed. Rosenbaum’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Harper’s, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker, so this is authoritative material, and you have to wonder, what Donald has on his mind when it comes to his hatred of “the media.”
Now I have tried to keep a level head about this whole thing. I like to think of Donald Trump winning the election kind of like the dog who caught the car. I don’t see this very often anymore because most dogs are kept on a leash nowadays, but when I grew up in the country, a fairly common sight was a dog chasing a car. Maybe the dogs in my neighborhood didn’t like the sound of them or something. But you’d always see these stupid dogs chasing cars.
And the question that always came up was this: what happens if the silly animal actually catches the car? What’s a dog going to do with a car?
So I’m actually a little curious to see this. How is this 70-year-old buffoon with an orange comb-over, a dislike of anything foreign, and a tendency to run his businesses into the ground, what’s he going to do with the United States of America, and how’s he really going to treat the Mexicans, the Muslims and the rest of us?
Unless he figures a way to destroy the media, he figures to be the best thing for journalism at least as far back as Richard Nixon.
Joseph J. Registrato is a journalist and lawyer. He was a news reporter, assistant city editor, city editor and assistant managing editor of The Tampa Tribune from 1971 to 1987. After graduation from Stetson College of Law, he was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1989, and was an assistant state attorney with the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office from 1989 through 1991. He was in the private practice of law for more than twenty years in the areas of family law, criminal defense and appellate practice. He is now an assistant public defender at the Hillsborough County Public Defender’s Office of Julianne Holt. He is a U. S. Marine Corps veteran and served in the conflict in the Republic of Vietnam in 1968-1969. Registrato is a contributing editor of AliveTampaBay.com.