Donald Trump and the River of Blood. It sounds like the title of a terrible movie, or an effect of his winning the election akin to a biblical plague—which could very well happen, mind you. An inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame with a real shot at becoming President of the United States? That’s some straight-up apocalyptic shit right there.
What exactly is the River of Blood, you might ask? Well, let’s first set the scene. Some seven years ago, Donald Trump bought and renovated a golf course in Virginia, renaming it after—who else?—himself. To add an air of gravitas to the newly-minted Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, VA, the billionaire had erected a monument to a locale on the premises known as “The River of Blood.” The commemorative inscription on the associated plaque, underneath Trump’s family crest, reads as follows:
Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot, “The Rapids,” on the Potomac River. The casualties were so great that the water would turn red and thus became known as “The River of Blood.”
It is my great honor to have preserved this important section of the Potomac River! —Donald John Trump
Great American soldiers dying! Rivers running red with blood! The history! The pathos! Thank you, Mr. Trump, for preserving and calling attention to this most venerated of sites!
There’s only one problem with this dedication to the site of so much spilled blood and humanity: there is no such thing as the River of Blood.
Wait, seriously?—I can hear you say. How can Donald Trump just make up something like that? First of all, he’s Donald Trump. As far as he’s concerned, he can do anything he wants short of standing in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shooting someone—and even then he might still be OK, at least in terms of the polls. Second of all, um, he’s Donald f**king Trump. The man has stretched the truth if not outright lied time after time; in fact, Trump won the dubious honor of PolitiFact’s 2015 Lie of the Year for his collective campaign misstatements.
As Nicholas Fandos reported in The New York Times in November of last year, two separate historians of the surrounding area, Richard Gillespie and Alana Blumenthal, as well as a third expert speaking on condition of anonymity, dispelled the notion that any such phenomenon manifested where Donald John Trump alleges it did. Now here’s where we get to the crux of why this story is so quintessentially Donald Trump. The response of the man behind Trump Steaks and other ideas of questionable merit? “How would they know that? Were they there?”
“How would they know that? Were they there?” Um, no, Mr. Trump, obviously not. Do consider that they are historians, however. That is, it’s literally their jobs to research these kinds of things, so if anyone would know, it should be them. Donald Trump’s reaction accompanies another bit of unflappable logic: “That was a prime site for river crossings. So, if people are crossing the river, and you happen to be in a civil war, I would say that people were shot — a lot of them.” By this reasoning, Confederate and Union soldiers must have been fighting in this area continuously, such that they would’ve been trying to cross the Potomac through a hail of bullets and other mayhem. Because they were all apparently f**king stupid. That’s why they all died. Right.
By trying to wade through this deficiency in realism, one already spends more time on the abstract notion of the River of Blood than he or she ought to. Just as effectively, and much more efficiently, one might respond to questions of “How would they know?” and “Were they there?” with a similar sentiment of, “What are you? Five years old?” Because that’s the level of Donald Trump’s argument, the one with which you are trying to reason. I know you are, but what am I? Nuh-uh! Quit it! That’s it—I’m telling Mom!
Of course, Trump being Trump, caught in an obvious fabrication, merely doubled down on his assertion that the River of Blood was, you know, a thing. He stated repeatedly that “numerous historians” had told him his claim was accurate, though he couldn’t remember any of their names. This despite his boast that he has “one of the best memories in the world,” and—I am not making this up—his forgetting that he even said that. Like a murder suspect whose alibi falls apart under scrutiny, Donald Trump’s story then changed: these anonymous “historians” did not actually speak to him, but rather his “people”—who he predictably refused to name. In a final show of irritation, Trump then told reporters this:
“Write your story the way you want to write it. You don’t have to talk to anybody. It doesn’t make any difference. But many people were shot. It makes sense.”
“It doesn’t make any difference. But many people were shot. It makes sense.” Yes, you feel it makes sense, Mr. Trump. Just like you feel hordes of rapist Mexicans are running across the border. Or you feel Muslims were cheering on New Jersey streets when the towers fell on 9/11. Or you feel that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, Saudi Arabia or wherever the hell you think he’s from. That’s where we are in American political discourse vis-à-vis factual truth vs. what Stephen Colbert and others have helped define as “truthiness.” This same battle which evidently boils down to a matter of feelings versus facts was recently illustrated by Newt Gingrich in an interview on CNN regarding the crime rate today as opposed to years ago. Despite attempts by the reporter to point to actual statistics which showed that crime is down, on the whole, nationwide, Gingrich argued the more important notion is that the average American “does not think crime is down,” and furthermore, that the statistics were only “theoretically” correct and are used to prop up a liberal stance anyway. As John Oliver and others have insisted, that’s not how it’s supposed to work. If you are going to make a logical point on domestic or foreign policy, you should be able to cite documented evidence, or else not scoff at the very notion of a fact. Otherwise, what’s the point? By this token, college students should be able to write whatever they want and bullshit their way to an A. Let’s just all lift material straight from Wikipedia. Don’t worry—if it weren’t true, it wouldn’t be on the Internet in the first place, am I right?
Donald Trump insists the facts on the fantastical River of Blood don’t make a difference. To him and his supporters, maybe not, but for the rest of America, they do, or at least they should. With all the dumb and insensitive shit Trump has said during just this election cycle alone (speaking of “rivers of blood,” let’s not forget this gem from early on in the campaign season regarding women and their apparent inability to see reason while on their period), it would seem his Democratic Party rival should have an easy path to victory, especially since the Dems’ party platform is vastly more inclusive and progressive than anything the GOP could hope to come up with. I mean, shit, Trump’s ongoing war of words with American Muslims Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the father and mother, respectively, of Humayun Khan, who died serving the United States, should alone disqualify him in the hearts and minds of voters.
And yet, an American public growing increasingly disillusioned with the state of establishment politics in this country, as well as a growing divide between the haves and the have-nots makes Donald Trump, a self-professed outsider and politically incorrect to a fault, seem like a breath of fresh air, even when he contradicts the very ideals he supposedly champions. Moreover, this aforementioned Democratic Party rival has her (still feels good to write about a female major-party nominee, I’ll admit) own, shall we say, complicated relationship with the truth and with being perceived as trustworthy. Hillary Clinton, according to recent polling, is rated as trustworthy by a scant 34% of Americans. That’s just above a third of those surveyed, and worse yet, roughly the same mark Trump gets. Granted, HRC seems to be the subject of more focused attacks from Republicans, and also has not particularly endeared herself to the “Bernie or Bust” crowd, though on the latter count, I don’t know if there’s anything she could do to appease them at this point, much less anything anyone else could do.
Still, it’s not like Hillary isn’t seemingly her own worst enemy sometimes. In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News, when asked about—what else?—her E-mails, and whether or not she lied to the public, Clinton said, “Chris, that’s not what I heard Director Comey say, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity, in my view, to clarify. Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people: that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the E-mails.”
Um, Hillary, bruh, no, he didn’t. From James Comey’s questioning at the hands of Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), a man who has seemingly nothing better to do but to try to get Hillary Clinton indicted or at least keep her out of the White House:
Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said there was nothing marked classified on her E-mails either sent or received. Was that true?
Comey: That’s not true.
Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said, “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my E-mail. There is no classified material.” Was that true?
Comey: There was classified material E-mailed.
Ms. Clinton, you may have not heard Director Comey say that, but he couldn’t have been much clearer in this respect. It’s no wonder, therefore, that PolitiFact awarded her a Pants on Fire distinction for her expression of her innocence, and The Washington Post gave her four Pinocchios. Even Ron Fournier, writing for The Atlantic, got in on the act, with a piece asking imploringly, if not perhaps rhetorically, “Why Can’t Hillary Clinton Stop Lying?” These are not questions/ratings you would hope to see from your best hope to keep Donald Trump from winning the presidency. And while your supporters may not care about, to borrow a phrase from Bernie Sanders, your “damn E-mails,” much as Trump’s supporters may not give a hoot about—let’s call them “gaps in foreign policy knowledge”—you can’t just lie your irresponsibility away, Hillary, or at least you shouldn’t be able to. Lots of shoulds and shouldn’ts herein, and yet, one of these two has to win. You know, barring some crazy pre-November indictment scenario, and that’s essentially mere fodder for Bernie Sanders supporters’ wet dreams.
In spite of the Democratic National Committee’s bumbling approach to try to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ bid for the Democratic Party nomination, her perceived lack of honesty and her evident tone-deafness of the subject of income and wealth inequality, Hillary Clinton should still be able to win the 2016 U.S. presidential election—though it’s yet all but a coin toss. Again, the Democratic Party platform is much more “user-friendly,” so to speak, than the Republican Party’s political agenda, and following Clinton’s historic nomination and accompanying acceptance speech, there appears to genuine enthusiasm for Hillary as a candidate, especially among women voters. On top of this, at the end of the day, Hillary Clinton has a better temperament for the presidency than Donald Trump—which isn’t exactly challenging to cultivate, mind you—but it’s the reality of the situation. If nothing else, HRC can respond, even in a lie, with poise. “The Donald,” on the other hand, in his 70 years on this planet, has garnered little, if any, true wisdom as a by-product of his experience, and as exampled by the tale of “The River of Blood,” he responds to adversity as every bit of the spoiled man-child many of us imagine him to be.
How do I know this? Was I ever there in person with Trump to witness his wanton buffoonery? No, but I don’t need a historian to tell me what so is plainly stated in his actions and speech. Donald Trump is not fit to be President of the United States, and any refusal by conservatives, Republicans and members of the media to repudiate him because of this speaks to their unfitness as well.