The Obama-Trump common denominator: Magical thinking

Heather Wilhelm’s op-ed column this morning in the Chicago Tribune made a forceful and on-target point about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s magical thinking.

On Wednesday, Trump delivered a landmark “serious candidate” foreign policy speech from Washington, D.C. In the hours before the speech, the media collectively freaked out in anticipation, even though Trump’s own adviser proudly announced this amusing disclaimer: “There will be no details in this speech.”

Boy, oh boy, was that ever true. But it’s 2016, my friends, the ultimate year of magical thinking! Who needs details? Let the show roll on.

Charles Krauthammer made a similar point in his Chicago Tribune column about the same Trump speech. Krauthammer didn’t call it magical thinking, but what Trump was saying was easily magical. And contradictory and confused. No thought about how to get from here to there, which is to be expected when where you want to take the country is at war with itself.

Most disturbing about Trump’s magical thinking is that it so much resembles the magical thinking that millions of Americans exhibited in 2008 when they elected Barack Obama president. Hope, hope, hope. As if hope alone was enough to get you to where you want to go. Obama’s hope-acoholics seem to have fled into the Democratic president candidate Bernie Sanders’ camp where the roadmap to the utopia he promises has no signs and no direction. Who knows, maybe some of them are in the Trump camp? It wouldn’t surprise me.

The year of magical thinking, indeed. Even backers of Republic candidate Ted Cruz engage in such magical thinking. As an “outsider,” he’ll get things done, they intone.

Well, good luck with that.

Accomplishing goals–whatever they are–requires intellectual discipline and realistic contemplation. What steps do I need to take to get even half-way to my goal? How do I assess the obstacles? Is my plan workable? Success is in the details.

I blame the American electorate as much as the candidates themselves for such crippled thinking. As we slouch toward a society that more and more demands instant gratification, the reality of how to achieve it fads ever further into irrelevance. But what does it matter? If Trump is elected and fails on so many fronts to accomplish those will-‘o-the-wisp goals he’s baiting voters with, we can just wait until the next election when a candidate shows up to promise even more magic.

Read why Americans need to learn about the nation’s most ignored war.

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  • That's some interesting math.

    Obama supporters + Bernie supporters + Trump supporters + Cruz supporters - (Hillary supporters who are mutually exclusive from any of above sub groups above) = 'Dennis's magical mystery tour'

    That must leave Dennis and his merry band of dwarves that are the sole owners of reality, cheers!

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