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Outside a Donald Trump rally at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Sept. 13, 2016 (AP photo by Paul Sancya).

American Huckster: Trump’s Deep Ignorance and Brittle Ego Are a Dangerous Mix

Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016

It’s hard to believe that just 15 months ago, it was the exception, rather than the rule, to read about Donald Trump at all, let alone daily. The Republican nominee for president is the latest iteration of an archetype that has a long tradition in American popular culture: the huckster, the charlatan, the carnie barker, the snake-oil salesman, who rides into town accompanied by a brass band, only to be ultimately chased out by a vengeful mob carrying buckets of tar and feathers. But never has one gotten so close to being elected to the highest office of the land, nor has the havoc he might wreak between triumphant arrival and disgraced exit ever been so great.

Two statements made by Trump in the past week illustrate the danger clearly and concisely. The first was his full-throated praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strength as a leader, “far more than our president has been a leader.” The second was his promise, should he be elected, to shoot Iranian speed boats that provoke and harass U.S. naval vessels in the Persian Gulf “out of the water.” ...

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