Stephen Lemons Column

Donald Trump and Janet Napolitano Visit Phoenix, and I'm Not Sure Whom I Despise More

It doesn't give me a lot of faith in Hillary Clinton's campaign in Arizona to know that it touted former governor Janet Napolitano's return to the state on Sunday to stump for HRC at the Democratic Party headquarters in Phoenix before heading over to the memorial service downtown for former governor Rose Mofford, who died on September 15 at age 94.

Napolitano, now president of the University of California system, proved true to her signature skunklike coif in 2009, when she screwed over this state by fleeing to become President Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security, leaving Arizona in the clutches of a Republican-controlled legislature and longtime GOP hack Jan Brewer, then secretary of state.

Thanks to the Arizona Constitution's line of succession, Brewer ascended to the ninth floor of the Capitol's Executive Tower, and a year later poisoned the state's body politic by signing Arizona's notorious nativist legislation, Senate Bill 1070, thereby earning the state a pariah status it's still living down. 
Before Napolitano left the building, she had been vetoing most, though not all, of the bigoted bills sent her way by the legislature. And being a Democrat, whose party relies on Latino votes for its continued existence, she certainly would have vetoed 1070.

But the Napster's career was more important to her than this state, so she became the Obama administration's token border hawk, helping it deport more immigrants than any other in U.S. history. Lately, she has been helping the Hillary campaign in California, which means she's vying for a post in an HRC administration, should that be the consequence of next week's election. 

Yuck, and double yuck. Just the thought of Napolitano in a cabinet-level position again is puke-worthy enough to make me consider voting for Donald J. Trump.

Okay, not really. I am nothing if not a rational man, something Señor Trump is not. Which is why the nuclear codes must be kept out of his tiny, genitals-groping hands. 
Even if I were to accept the premise of so many Trump fanatics and Jill Stein loonies out there that former Secretary Clinton is a criminal — which I don't — I then would compare this presidential contest to the choice Louisiana voters had in 1991 when that state's top-two primary for governor gave them a runoff between famously corrupt Democrat Edwin Edwards and former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke.

Edwards bested Duke by a two-to-one margin in the runoff, and years later was indicted and convicted on federal corruption charges. To this day, Louisianans can be proud that they elected a white-collar criminal instead of a white supremacist. Sure, Clinton is no Edwards — Edwards was far more likable — and Trump is no David Duke. But they call it an analogy for a reason, folks.

In the wake of the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood tape, wherein Trump brags about sexually assaulting women without consequence, and the several women who subsequently emerged to accuse Trump of unwanted touching, I was willing to concede that HRC had a shot of besting The Donald in our reddest of red states. 
But since FBI director James Comey's announcement on October 28 that the bureau would be examining more e-mails related to the Clinton server scandal, Trump has the taste of blood in his mouth — at least until he pops some more Tic Tacs — and it seems Arizona is a maybe at best for Clinton. Because her candidacy will not rise or fall on our sand, shouldn't she be visiting Florida or North Carolina or Pennsylvania or any of the real battleground states instead of coming to town this week?

No wonder Trump packed them in at the Phoenix Convention Center on Saturday, his seventh campaign stop in Arizona. In the wake of Comey's move, the political equivalent of driving a Ryder truck full of fertilizer into Clinton's HQ, Trump's devoted followers smell victory, Plus, this might be one of the last chances they get to chant "Lock her up!" and "Build the wall!" in a crowd of their peers rather than screaming the words at the TV set while dressed in their skivvies and sucking back Old Milwaukees.  I was dreading having to attend the rally, both annoyed and depressed by Clinton's latest legal snafu, which reportedly is due to e-mails located on devices belonging to pervy ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Hillary's longtime aide-de-camp Huma Abedin. Weiner — a colossal idiot if ever there was one — is being investigated by the FBI for allegedly sexting an underage girl. Which is how the new e-mails were discovered.

So I felt the need to attend the Trump event and do my impersonation of William L. Shirer. (You know, the guy who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.) But, I confess, the spectacle was more like a trip to the state fair — minus the funnel cake and deep-fried Oreos — than a Nuremberg rally. I know, it's unfair to make such comparisons. Or it would have been, had it not been for the crazy dude who yelled "Jew S.A." at the fenced-off press corps as the rest of the crowd chanted "U.S.A."
While doing so, the moron made a hand gesture that's used by folks who refer to themselves as "Three-Percenters," a so-called patriot group, that says it stands ready to take up arms to defend the U.S. Constitution. I was in a different part of the crowd at the time, listening to the people yell "We love you, Donald!" and "Hillary's a criminal!" But I wish I'd been near the Jew baiter, because I would've at least tried to get the guy's name, maybe even followed him out of the building, unlike my colleagues, who seemed content to sit on their duffs and tweet videos of him. (I take some of that back; seems he has since been identified.)
Other than the open anti-Semite, the crowd felt right at home for me, because these are the people I've been covering at gun rallies, pro-SB 1070 demonstrations, and Tea Party events for years. Not that I agree with them on anything, but some of them are so familiar, they're practically some form of weird, extended family.
The oddest thing about the crowd, considering Trump's rep as a cad, were the ladies waving pink "Women for Trump" signs and shaking matching pink-and-white pom poms. As Jan Brewer helped Sheriff Joe Arpaio and State Treasurer Jeff DeWit warm up the masses for the main event, she said, "I don't think I've held a pom pom in 50 years." For obvious reasons, I had a flashback to the Comedy Central series Strangers with Candy. (Brewer is like Jerri Blank, only twice as old.)

Trump himself was a little disappointing, mostly sticking to his telepromptered speech, which excoriated Obamacare for its outrageous rise in premiums for some. Though I found this kvetch a little silly, given that most Arizonans get insurance coverage through their jobs (or some other gub'mint program), and if they don't, why would they be participating in the very scheme they deride as socialized medicine when it's obviously not? Oh, that's right, because without it they wouldn't be covered.
The billionaire spent a lot of time playing up Comey's bombshell, which seems less impressive with each passing day. He also blew a lot of steam about Clinton's "criminal act" of setting up a private server in her home, which has to be the biggest non-scandal since Whitewater. Don't remember that one? There's a reason: As with most ginned-up Hillarygates, there was no there there.

"Hillary Clinton's soul is corrosive to our nation and it must be stopped," Trump intoned at one point.
That's rich, considering Trump's endless line of corrosive and contemptible acts and deeds, too many to repeat here. Still, there is perhaps nothing more American than calling your political opponent a criminal and promising to jail 'em. The entire spectacle on Saturday made me recall the scene in Citizen Kane where Orson Welles' Charles Foster Kane (based on real-life publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst) is running for governor of an unnamed state and is shown speaking to a crowd that hangs on his every word and ferociously applauds Kane's promise that his first act in office will be to seek the indictment and conviction of his "corrupt" opponent, "Boss" Jim Gittes.

If we're lucky, 2016's political morality play will end in a similar vein, with Trump losing and then slithering off to die one day in Trump Tower or Mar-a-Lago, whispering some mysterious word or phrase. You see, legend has it that for the real-life Hearst, "Rosebud" was his pet name for a certain part of his mistress' anatomy — something Donald's wee paws have come across before.
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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons