Liz Smith: Shuddering at a Possible Trump Presidency (Remember, This Is America — Anything Is Possible!)

Donald Trump: presidential hopeful?

And more from our Liz: the Bill Cunningham documentary all New York is talking about

“A CIVILIZED SOCIETY is one which tolerates eccentricity to the point of doubtful sanity,” said Robert Frost.

Too bad Mr. Frost isn’t around to watch Donald Trump these days.

I understand that Donald seems to be fulfilling some sort of perpetual American political myth that a big-boasting, plain-talking guy is gonna come along and “just say what everybody is thinking.” And that guy will become our Big Leader.

Despite making the occasional trenchant point, I shudder to think of the United States of America under his control, should he become president. We’d be at war — a lot.  And despite his financial acumen, he has declared bankruptcy three times. Comforting?

I also find his Birther talk downright dangerous. And I do not think for one second he actually believes that President Obama — and the entire corps of the FBI and Secret Service and all U.S. Intelligence agencies — has conspired to place a non-American in the White House. (What? Like Obama wasn’t vetted from head to toe?)

Many people say they are amused by Trump. I say NBC should put “Celebrity Apprentice” on hold until June when Donald “makes up his mind” about running. After all, if this is not simply a publicity stunt, it shouldn’t matter all that much.

* * *

BILL CUNNINGHAM of The New York Times may just be the most important reporter-photographer-culture maven in all of modern day journalism .

And he is desperately important at the Times itself. I say this even though the Times editorial and Op Ed pages are necessities in a great and threatened democracy like ours. But Bill fills society’s cultural void.

Bill is the heart and soul of what goes on in New York and environs when it comes to high fashion, street fashion, and low and middle-class fashion, charity parties, balls, and benefits by the rich, famous or infamous. He shoots around the city on his bike (he has had 28 of them stolen,) covering whatever strikes his fancy and he keeps reiterating his mantra: “If you don’t take their money, they can’t tell you what to write and do. You then have the most important thing – freedom.”

So Bill, who is no spring chicken, reiterates for the Times the supreme idea of freedom of the press, of reporters not “taking the King’s shilling,” of a life and profession not beholden to anyone or anything, photographing and writing about whatever strikes his fancy. And he says and knows more about high fashion and low, dressing trends, the elite and the sub-elite than anyone else still extant in the international world. Bill believes if we stopped covering “fashion” we would miss quite a lot culture-wise — and it just might be the end of civilization as we know it. He says we can’t dispense with that frivolity in our culture. (Not to mention that business – the beloved “retail” business – is so important to New York and to the body politic. It helps keep big cities going and little towns hoping.)

They have made a documentary about Bill Cunningham, and it is the talk of towns from here to Paris and Milan. It is titled “Bill Cunningham New York,” directed by Richard Press. It is showing at Manhattan’s Museum of Fine Arts. Everybody who is anybody is talking about it.

This same unassuming creature who eschews publicity was somehow convinced that his life and times should be noticed. He has already refused to be honored by almost everything although back in the Princess Diana years, I did convince him to accept the Fashion Institute of Technology award and he rode out on the stage at Lincoln Center to take the prize from my hand, still astride his bike. Then I convinced him that he should become a “Living Landmark” for the New York Landmarks Conservancy. Bill kicked, demurred, and refused, saying: “No, no way and never!” But finally I got him to accept although he refused to be at a table honoring him and instead worked through the evening photographing others.

But when he finally came up to accept his investiture, he gave the Conservancy one of the best speeches about saving New York buildings and monuments and other aspects of culture that we’d ever heard. I see in his documentary that Bill also accepted a great big important award in Paris and he made his modest comments in French.

One of the most entertaining aspects of the Cunningham documentary is that it offers us three of fashion’s most fashionable and cultured ladies speaking of “their” Bill and how they love him and how important he is. Well, that is two of these women spoke eloquently about Bill and what he means as a reporter and a kind-hearted friend.

They are Anna Wintour of Vogue and the philanthropist and usually shy, retiring wife of designer Oscar de la Renta, one Annette. Both women appear to advantage and come off just great.

Then Bill himself selects his own third icon. He says that Mercedes Bass is the sine qua non of high fashion these days and he compares her to a Sargent painting. (So, no question, Mrs.Bass — who has helped save the Metropolitan Opera — must love Bill too.)

I’ve never met anyone who met him who didn’t.


100 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Harriet Shoebridge says:

    I’m blaming this post on Grey’s Anatomy, which I have just discovered, having long ago restricted my television to the running of DVD’s and, recently, completed a marathon session of said series … that said … maybe that … what to call ‘it’ … thing on Mr. Trump’s forehead is hiding a tumour, impairing judgment, explaining inappropriate responses … like I said, I’m laying these words at the feet of McDreamy. 

  2. avatar Jeff Michaels says:

    I did not pay attention to the birth certificate issue until Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercombie, a friend of Obama’s parents, assured us he was going to show everyone that it existed. For certain, the president would give the governor the right to have access to his birth certificate so all doubters could be made to look like fools. Then Abercombie quickly shut up about the issue. That silence increased my journalistic curiosity as it should for all members of the establishment media. There is one easy solution. Just show EVERYONE the birth certificate and then we can go on to other issues. This is an easy solution to an easy problem — if an easy solution exists.

  3. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    You took the words right out of my mouth Liz. Barack Obama was vetted to the nth degree. 200 years of only White males occupying the White House, does anyone really believe the first truly viable candidate that came along that was of color wouldn’t have his life turned inside out and upside down for the slightest skeleton? Of course he was vetted. Every time Trump opens his mouth he sounds more and more like a make version of Palin and Bachmann. I say let him keep talking.

  4. avatar Mary says:

    Trump president?   I think it is all very silly.  But I do have a great idea for
    Apprentice……………Have Palin and Trump on different teams with all of the other crazy candidates and fire each other.   Each week they would have to demonstrate knowledge of Foreign affairs, the Constitution, Treasury, Congress, Supreme Court rulings , etc.  Lastly they would have to demonstrate their platform and what would they do to solve the problems we face today.

    Now that would be entertaining.

  5. avatar Maggie W says:

    I watched George Stephanopolous hold his own and keep his cool with The Donald, no easy feat because Trump uses “Excuse Me,” to constantly interrupt anyone and then rag on for minutes.  His ego was really on display when George asked him how he would handle certain Mid Eastern players ( oil cartels).  Without blinking an eye, he answered, ” I would just look them in the eye and say, Look, this has gone on long enough’….”

    There it is.  Why didn’t Bill Clinton, GWB, and now Barack Obama think of this?  Just look them in the eye and tell them to stop whatever it is they are up to. 

    Sarah Palin has temporarily stepped out of the Republican crazy house, and  Donald Trump has stepped in to fill the void.

  6. avatar Bonnie O says:

    Hi Liz –  I was waiting for an article from you regarding the possible Donald Trump candidacy.  You do not disappoint.   As a Republichan, I, too, have a creepy feeling about his candidacy.  He is smart, well educated, altruistic to the nth degree, successful to an even greather degree and is definitely not wishy-washy  Why does the possible candidacy of such a person fill so many Repbulicans with trepidation?   Is he Presidential?  No, but then many former and historical Presidents were not either.  Is Trump truthful?  As much as any other candidate.   Can he win?  Now that is the problem.  A Trump candidacy could spoil the chance of another and more electable GOP candidate …. Trump could be a spoiler, a la Ross Perot.   Notice I do not ask if the man is likeable …. to some he is and to others he definitely is not!

    As for the birth certificate issue.  The President, as mentioned above, would kill all speculation as to the issue if he simply presented it.  It is curious that he has not.  Then one is almost forced to ask, why not?  President Obama gets to slide on many issues whereas other candidates have not.  His college records?  His writings for the Harvard Review?  All un-disclosed.  Very strange.  I hesitate to mention that the birth certificate question was first raised by then Senator Clinton and other democratic candidates during the last election.  This
    subject is not a concoction of the Tea Party.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Bonnie…exactly.  It has been brought up before.  Do you think if there was the slightest chance that Obama, his family and the various agencies cited above were trying to put one over, that HILLARY AND BILL CLINTON couldn’t have gotten to the bottom of it?!  I repeat–the Clintons.

      Obama has presented his Hawaiian birth certifcate–a certificate of live birth.  It is what they have in Hawaii, where he was born.  It is considered as valid as any other “kind” of birth certificate. 

      Criticize him on any other level–and you will find Mr. Wow not disagreeing with you on more than a few issues.  But not this, please. 

      • avatar Bonnie O says:

        I shall play devil’s advocate here.   The Hawaiian Live Birth Certiicate is not the same thing as a birth certificate.  There is supposedly a birth certificate, an actual document signed by a physician.  Where is it?   I do agree with you that the Clintons would probably have uncovered any shennagians …. if there were any.  However, the subject will not disappear but it could disappear forever and completely if the President would only be more forthcoming.  Why does he persist in allowing the subject to be bandied about?  If, perhaps, the President allowed the release of his Harvard writings, his grades etc …. then the doubt expressed by so many as to the existence of a birth certificate would not have gained so much momentum.

        I am fairly certain the President was born in Hawaii.  Do I have any doubts?  I would have to admit that with his history of undisclosures, there is a smidgen of doubt. 

        • avatar Baby Snooks says:

          Enough already with this. Bonnie, where is your original birth certificate,? All you have is all everyone else, including Barack Obama, has. A certified copy.

          His birth was also announced in the Honolulu newspaper. Twice I belive,. I know, I know, someone went into the microfilm archives and “planted” the announcements.

          Back to your certificate. A certifiied copy is not acceptable. The original, please.  Put up or shut up.

          • avatar Bonnie O says:

            Snooks you are still as rude as you were before the website discontinued the Elizabeth Peak articles.  Who do you think you are to tell anyone what they can write at wowowow?

            FYI, a “living birth certificate”, from what I have read,  is a certification that the preparer has seen the original record and copied some of the info found there onto a “living birth certificate”.  The original record/document would have the name of the physican, his signature, the hospital etc.  None of that information is provided on the Living Birth Certificate.    The announcement of Obama’s birth was published in the Honolulu Advertizer (I believe that is the newspaper) but it was not published in a timely manner.  Does that make a difference?  Some people believe it does.

            And some folks, including Hillary Clinton, have raised the question of the orginal record where the name and signature of the doctor appears.  Where the name of the hospital, if any, is listed.  The Governor of Hawaii said he saw the document and would make it available.  Then he changed his mind.  Curious.

            When the President’s grandmother said to a reporter that Obama was born in Kenya, was that too a mistake?  Probably.  She was immediately corrected by someone in the room.  Who was that person, I wonder?

            I will retain my smidgen of doubt, no matter what you say or how loud you say it.

          • avatar Bonnie O says:

            postscript.  I do have my original birth certificate.  In addition, I have a certified copy of my birth record as provided by the State.  Your info is faulty.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            Well hold on tit becuase if you lose it, well, there won’t be a way to get a copy, now will there? Maybe some states stamp the little feet twice. All states retain the original birth ceritficate. Whatever it’s called. Otherwise they wouldn’t be able to provide a certified copy.    Barack Obama is a citizen of the United States. Born in Honoluly. Do you all drink the tea or smoke it?

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            You can write anything you want.  As for rude, well,  to me rude is this continued “controversy” about Barack Obama.  There is no controversy. Or conspiracy.

            If he wasn’t born in Honolulu you can make bet the Clintons would have found out just exactly where he was born and made sure everyone knew. Lord knows they tried everything else to keep him from wining the nomination. Although it seems they landed in The White House anyway. And that is why I will not vote for him again. Ever. For anything. 

        • avatar O E says:

          Oh…You’d like to see President Obama’s Harvard grades?  That’s a good one.  I would have a laughing party for my friends just to enjoy seeing George W. Bush’s grades! 

          As for  “the doubt expressed by so many as to the existence of a birth certificate would not have gained so much momentum.” Might you be referring to the “so many” who also deny evolution has the origin of homo sapiens?

          • avatar Mahulda Fite says:

            Bush’s grades are available. Obama’s are not.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            Of all the things that should have been covered up his grades at Yale should have been at the top of the list. George W Bush is not the brightest light bulb as they say.

          • avatar Mahulda Fite says:

            Bush’s undergraduate grades at Yale were better than Gore’s or Kerry’s undergraduate grades.

            Looks like Bush’s bulb is brighter than theirs.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            I know the Bushes and so I have a little better perspective shall we say and trust me when I say the George W Bush’s is a walking, and unfortunately talking, advertisement for his mother’s literacy advocacy.  

            He probably managed the C average by carefully watching which little dot the classmmate sitting next to him had filled in.  And of course always managed to sit next to the next-dumbest student in class.

          • avatar Mahulda Fite says:

            Baby Snooks,
            Interesting how you never respond to the actual comments or rufute the facts. You always seem to have a sarcastic, arrogant response that has nothing to do with the orignal thought.

            What does you “knowing the Bushes” have to do with whether or not Bush’s grades were higher than Gore’s or Kerry’s?

            And what does your opinion of Bush’s intelligence have to with the fact that Bush’s grades are out there for everyone to see while Obama’s are not. I believe the original question is why Obama has hidden all of his transcripts and other various documents.

            Your opinion of Bush is duly noted. By the way, do you have a BS from Yale or an MBA from Harvard?

          • avatar crystalclear says:

            Mahulda, why can’t we have the same visibility into Barack and Michelle’s college transcripts?  I read somewhere that Obama hired a team of attornies to remove everything about his background (and Michelle’s).   What’s up with that?   I also read where his grades at Occidental and Columbia weren’t the greatest either but hell who really knows?   Personally, I don’t give a flip or a flop.   I just want him to be a one term President.

            His campaigning this week was pitiful.   He went right for GWB’s neck again.   I hope he falls way way short of his $1 billion goal in campaign funds.   

            I’m so ready for the moving van to pull up to the White House.   I feel like we have a black cloud over our country with no sun in sight until 2012. 

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            You  originally commented that Bush’s grades were available and Obama’s I commented  in my usual sarcastic and arrogant wy that th greades should have been at the top of the lits of things not to made available. So maybe Obama’s just a little smarter than Bush by making sure his grades were not available?

            I have a PhD in life from the Chateau Marmont. Summa cum laude.

          • avatar Bonnie O says:

            Hi Mahulda –   You are quite correct.  George W. Bush’s received his highest grades from Yale in the subjects of philosophy and anthropology, a B+ average.  He was, otherwise, a solid “C” student;  president of his fraternity and a member of Skull & Bones. His grade point was higher than was the grade point of Al Gore.  Earlier, Bush attended Andover.

            Some folks around this website assume negative allegations about the former President or anyone else they do not favor …. simply for political reasons.  And that is a sad commentary about wowowow.  Too bad.

          • avatar crystalclear says:

            I’ve always liked George W. Bush cocky SOB that he is!  I loved that about him.  Cocky, confident, and decisive.   What we have now is cocky, confident, and not a clue.

          • avatar Mahulda Fite says:

            Unfortunately, this site had deteriorated.
            The same people with the same political tilt giving the same snarky remarks.
            Always great to see your intelligent thoughts.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            Mine’s not a political tilt but a personal tilt and have little patience for those who call themselves a “conservative” and seem to think that anyone who disagrees with them is a “liberal” and that seems to have always been a problem on wowOwow.

            For the record I was born a Republican and will die a Republican. But I vote for who decide to vote for. And I do not vote solely on the basis of the (D) or the (R) beside the name.  Never have. Never will.  As for the Republican Party, I remember what it once was. And am disgusted by what it has become.

          • avatar Mahulda Fite says:

            Baby Snooks,
            I have no idea what your political tilt is–you are all over the map with your opinions.

            what I do notice is that only respond negatively to those of us who are conservative, which incidentally, is not the same as “republican”.

            You often criticize Obama for the same reasons some of us criticize him yet you still feel the need to argue with us even under those circumstances.  I find this puzzling and feel the only explanation is that you do not like conservatives, even when they agree with you.

            Of course this makes no sense but with you it does since most of what you say is contradictory.  For example, constantly railing against (nonexistent) racism,  yet admitting that you would vote for someone solely on the basis of their skin color.

          • avatar Bonnie O says:

            O E –  You should reread my comments.  You cannot deny there is a group of Indpendents, members of the GOP and just plain folks who have doubts as to the President’s birthplace.  I simply added that I believe that their doubts might have gained a greater creditbility with these folks  because of all the other personal details of Obama’s life that continue to remain secret.   It is a logical conclusion.

            As I wrote earlier …. I am fairly certain the President was born in Hawaii.  If this were a trial and I had to use the scale of “reasonable doubt”, I would conclude that there is not enough doubt to assert the President may have been  born in Kenya or anywhere else except Hawaii.    But I don’t like the fact that Obama has been able to avoid disclosures that all other candidates have made.  Why is he so special?   It does create pause … and to some doubt.  And until more information is provided, I fear that doubt will remain.

            Your sarcasm is a wasted exercise..  I care not for your opinion of me.

          • avatar crystalclear says:

            Your last two sentences were well written and were appropo.   Stating that you care not for another’s opinion of you is well stated.   There seems to be a bit of tension here when the liberals face off with the conservatives.   Being an independent is interesting because I flip flop back and forth trying to find equal footing.   I try.   However, the conservatives need to blast through this mountainous debt President Obama has built and will continue to build if someone doesn’t stop him.  

            I am not certain what actually motivates Obama…ego…wealth….the fact that his father rejected him, or his mother’s edgy 1970’s personna dating a man from Africa and becoming pregnant by him.   It’s a puzzle at this point what really motivates Barack Obama.    He has a patchwork upbringing and an element of rejection laced with communist leaning grandparents.   I would have hoped that being educated in the United States would have leveled him in some way to find a clear path.   I honestly do not know who he is at this point.   I wonder if he knows who he is and what the future holds for him beyond Washington, DC.  

            I find it very sad.

          • avatar Elizabeth Newman says:

            Where on Earth are getting that his grandparents had communist leanings? There are parts of Communism that I might agree with, but that certainly doesn’t mean that advocate it as a overall valid idea.

          • avatar Bonnie O says:

            CrystalClear – 

            I have never understood the President’s motives.  I certainly have an understanding of the Obama followers but that is an easy observation.  He is a dynamic, handsome, eloquent liberal and many of his supporters have a fondness for him …as if he were a member of the family.  The reasons why a youngish man with young children  would want to be President in this day and age, as opposed to 1960 with the JFK inaugration, is a mystery to me.  I think it extremely selfish and, sadly, keeping in mind the violence in our own country, very dangerous.

            In addition, it is more and more my opinion that the President is a strong believer in a socialistic model for America a/k/a a “Nanny State”.   If a person who is able to work but chooses not to work … is in Obama’s world entitled to be supported with food, shelter and money by other Americans who do work.  And that entitlement is from cradle to grave.  It is a philosophy that is the exact opposite of the tradtional American goal of allowing any person to work, with the fewest obstacles, so that each Amercan will have an opportunity to achieve his goals …. no matter his status at birth or his/her ethnicity.

            President Obama has spent trillions of dollars in less than two years.  Due to his mismanagement of the financial situation, the US Dollar is under attack and is shrinking in value almost daily.  The debt is unsustainable and the President proposed a budget that would spend more next year than he did this year.  Unbelievable.

            During the last campaign, he lamented  America’s military intervention overseas, the POW camp at Quantanamo and the reputation America had acquired overseas, especially Europe.   In 2011, he has tripled the armed forces in Afghanistan, started a war in Libya and is engaged in military actions inside Packistan.  Quantanamo remains open and  America’s reputation overseas has dropped even lower.

            For all of his likability, the President is a dismal failure.   He has ruined any change of political finance reform with his expressed goal of raising one billion dollars for the next campaign.  Holy smokes!

            If the 2012 choice is between Obama and Trump, I think I will be making martinis that evening and hoping to goodness that the Republicans will take control of the Senate while holding onto the leaders