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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Monday, November 07, 2016

The Importance of Listening

During this latest election campaign, which by the good graces of time is now mercifully fast coming to an end, I’ve been going through an experience that is so contradictory and an anomaly that I can hardly believe it.

I have a good friend who abhors Donald J. for “Jackass” Trump almost as much as I do, and rightfully so.   Yet in one respect that is key to both, these two men are cut from exactly the same cloth.

I regularly play chess with this friend, and it is no contest except for the rare and unavoidable occasions when I must necessarily fall asleep with my eyes open, and I play “touch-move” while he never does.   Otherwise we talk.   Or he orates while courtesy, exasperation, and resignation requires me to do little more than to just listen, and I have informed this friend more than once that he is a conversation hog.

Maybe you, too, know people like this.   This guy is big on doing the talking but he’s a complete failure as a listener, and that is shown in his absolute refusal in wanting to discuss any game that we have just finished, as real chessplayers like to do, in a time-honored process called “the post mortem,” and instead he enjoys spending the rest of the time pontificating on this and that or relating the latest chapter in his admittedly interesting life story.  As a result he never learns where he went wrong in that just-concluded game, and so he keeps making the same mistakes over and over again, with his only hope being that I will sleep something again, as I started playing chess shortly before he was born, whereas he has spent his whole life wasting his time playing basketball, golf, and the other kinds of sports that draw the attention of beautiful women.

I can tell that Donald J. Trump is exactly the same way.  He believes it is his divine right to do all the spouting, and he allows others to speak only while he is taking a breath or taking a sip, or looking around for a young lady to ogle and that he hungers to feel up, while he angrily taps his mental foot and impatiently waits for the other speaker to shut up and once again turn the podium over to him, being as how he is the only one in the whole, wide world who has the right to say things.   And that is reflected by the numerous reports we get of how his aides can’t keep him on message, among other things.

During this campaign there was for me one defining moment that I expect will stick in my mind the longest.  It took place during the third and final debate between H. Clinton and D. Trump.

Ms Clinton was doing what one is supposed to do at such debates, and that is examining the issues, and the one she was speaking of at that moment was the security of our social security system, a topic of vital importance to people who are not billionaires.

Meanwhile her opponent, D. J. for “Jackass” Trump, was clearly not listening to a word that the lady was saying.   He was supposed to be paying attention so that he could give his take on that subject in a responsible way when it was his turn again.   But instead all he was doing was angrily waiting for her to stop speaking.  I knew that, because as I’ve just said, I had seen it before.   And finally he could stand it no longer, and he blurted out the words, “You are a nasty woman!”

I’ve been trying to guess all the things that were behind that remark, and the main thing I think was happening was that Trump felt that Ms Clinton was showing him up, and on purpose, by taking advantage of the obvious fact that he not only had no reply, but also that he knew nothing about that subject, as was true in those debates about the majority of the topics.

No one could forget that Hillary Clinton had been married for years to a man who was the biggest policy wonk of any President over the past few decades, and actually she was a policy wonk herself.   So it stood to reason that for that reason Trump should never have allowed himself to be pitted against her in a debate, being as how he had spent his productive years learning nothing except the advantages of  hiring lawyers who knew the safest ways to avoid paying taxes.

Trump was like the class clown and therefore dummy in elementary school who gets outraged at receiving frequent D’s and F’s while the quiet girl two rows behind him consistently collects all the A’s.   He knows she is much smarter than he is, and as a result he grows up to be a dyed-in-the-wool woman-hater, while doing all he can to fool his world into thinking the exact opposite.

Note how totally inappropriate that outburst in the midst of that debate was.   For one thing it had absolutely nothing to do with the issue that H. Clinton was addressing.  In what ways does talking about social security make a woman nasty?

I may be a touch old-fashioned.  I may be too influenced by having spent the first part of my life mainly in the company of two lovely and loving women – my mother and my sister – both long gone.   I may be out of touch with the nation’s mores, which this man might already have changed single-handedly, and  not merely for the worse, but to a quite disastrous extent.  Still, I thought it was still thought best for a man to be courteous with women at all times, including business and in politics, and especially during a debate.

When in 2008 the highly experienced and at that time Senator J. Biden had to experience the indignity of having to debate against a hapless and grossly uninformed political novice named Sarah Palin that J. McCain had unexpectedly thrown into the pot as his running mate, Biden, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, was expected to watch his P’s and Q’s at all times and to avoid any possibility of embarrassing Ms Palin even by accident, and he succeeded in doing that without difficulty.  Had he failed in the slightest, the Republican wolves would have fallen on him en masse, all with daggers at the ready.

Yet here, very few people seem to have been bothered by that totally uncalled-for remark that Trump unleashed on Clinton out of a clear blue sky.  I on the other hand thought that Trump’s shot was so egregious and nasty that it disqualified him for being the U.S. President then and there, beyond his million and one other shortcomings.   In the world that I knew anything about and respected, you just didn’t do such a thing, ever!

And yet today here we have millions of voters eager to make this man the latest leader of the leader of the free world, as the U.S. frequently touts itself to be.  They want to put into the Oval Office a man who is not only prodigal in making mistakes but also is completely incapable of learning from them.


Oh, well.  

I will end this post with a well-known and completely true chess saying, and that is: “The mistakes are all there, waiting to be made.”   And I would add, “especially by D. J. Trump.”

Americans today and tomorrow have a raging obligation not only to vote but also to listen.  That’s what ears and the brain are for, though in this campaign  that fact seems to have been largely set aside, especially by news anchors and pundits.  


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