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Robert Traynham

Robert Traynham

It’s amazing to me that Donald Trump can say so many things that other candidates would not even dream of saying. In an interview last month on ABC News, Trump was asked about a retweet of a follower who insisted that both Senators and GOP presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were not eligible to be president because of their ethnic heritage.

Clearly irritated by the questions, Trump tried to change the premise of the question by stating that “it was a retweet.”

 When pressed, Trump continued: “I mean, let people make their own determination. I’ve never looked at it, George. I honestly have never looked at it. As somebody said, he’s not [eligible], and I retweeted it. I have 14 million people between Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, and I retweet things, and we start dialogue, and it’s very interesting.”

It’s a very artful way to say I’m not saying it, I’m just saying it and although I retweeted it, it’s not an endorsement or an insight as to what I really think. In other words, I am trying to have my cake and eat it, too.

I dare say that if this was any other candidate, the media and the general press would be holding them accountable for the retweets. So why are the rules different for Donald Trump?

Because he’s got a very distinct way of fanning the flames, without incurring any of the blame. Think of this analogy: your parents told you not to do any drinking while out with your friends, and your sibling told your parents the next day that you slept in and appeared “groggy” the next day. Your sibling did not rat you out and tell your parents that you in fact were drinking; they simply observed something different and allowed your parents to come to their own conclusion. But when you asked your sibling if they actually ratted on you, your sibling could say with a straight face that you did nothing of the sort. It’s having your cake and eating, too, with total, plausible deniability.

The fascinating truth is that Trump has become an expert in this game and we have never seen anything like it on the presidential stage. My translation: he does not take responsibility for anything and only takes credit when it benefits him. His four bankruptcies, failed marriages and unsuccessful business practices make him fair game for asking him questions about how he would lead all of us if he was in the White House.

To date, in our nearly 240 years as a country and with 44 presidents under our belt, we have yet to elect a president that has been this loose with the facts for the sake that he was called a “con artist” by members of his own party. We deserve better in our presidential campaign rhetoric and we have all have a part to play to ensure that it happens. The press naturally does by asking challenging questions to hold public officials accountable but we, the public, need to as well. After all this is a government of, for and by the people and the only way it’s going to work is by demanding that our public officials are transparent about their intent when it comes to public policy. This also includes retweets. I hope Donald Trump is listening.

 @roberttraynham.com

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