Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.


Send in the Clown

Why is it that only Donald Trump seems to have any fun at the Republican debates? Unlike 18 million of my fellow citizens, I listened to Tuesday’s debate on the radio, and without the glitz of the Las Vegas background and the body language of the performers, I was struck by how humorless and wooden were the performances: Ben Carson’s impersonation of a schoolboy reciting recently memorized foreign policy facts; Chris Christie morphing into Rudy Giuliani and trying to scare everybody; Ted Cruz doubling down on carefully targeted “carpet bombing” (“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less”).

Yes, we live in dangerous times, which demand seriousness, but we are also looking for a human behind the mask – which brings me back to Donald Trump, who seems to actually be enjoying running for president and whose off-the-cuff retorts contrast so sharply with the others’ carefully calibrated responses. I think part of his appeal, which has endured far longer than anyone thought, is due to his apparent openness, which gives one a glimpse into what kind of president this man would actually be.

What it has revealed, of course, is a man whom only Vladimir Putin could love – a man who insults all his Republican opponents but praises Putin as a strong leader whose poll numbers are more than twice those of Barack Obama.

His candor is good for us. Let's hope it sinks him.

Correction: in Wednesday’s post, the remembrance of Doug Tompkins was written by my son, Jake. The editor apologizes for the oversight.


Doug Tompkins: A Eulogy

Doug Tompkins: A Eulogy