I spend the equivalent of about a week and a half a month on average in Arizona, assisting my elderly mother (95) to remain self-sufficient in her home in Sun City. In doing so, I get what I think is a fairly accurate look at the state from outside the fishbowl.
I can’t really argue that when it comes to my views regarding Donald Trump, that I am anymore a fish out of water than I am in the community I live in back in California, which is also a small but fervent pocket of staunch support for Trump in an otherwise Blue state. The hopelessly devoted watch Fox News there and they watch it here.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things I like about Arizona, including lower gas taxes and less crowded freeways.
And if you have a good eye for things that don’t fit general patterns, you will find them, as I did several months back, when I saw an elderly gentleman holding a sign at the corner of a busy intersection, that said, “Trump – Unfit For Office”. I wanted to park the car and go over and shake his hand and thank him for making the heavy lift of speaking out with a generally very unpopular message.
I changed my mind, because I was concerned that he might see me walking up and fear I might be likely to yell at him or perhaps worse. So, I just gave him the big thumbs up. I should have at least taken his picture, but since I didn’t – this one (below right) will have to suffice.
But as a state, Arizona is one of the most truculent in America, determinately ignoring Trump’s atrocious degree of incompetence and conduct unbecoming.
So, when I heard that a politician – a Republican politician no less, experienced fierce backlash for a comment regarding Trump, I was not particularly surprised.
E.J. Montini, a longtime columnist in the Arizona Republic, wrote in the Sunday edition about how Mesa Mayor John Giles had an informal chat with Senator Jeff Flake at a public event at the Arizona based aerospace firm, GECO they both participated in, where they were of the erroneous impression that they were off mike. They weren’t, the mike was still hot.
The assumed private conversation began when Senator Flake told Mayor Giles that, “if we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast”. Giles concurred, telling Flake that he should consider throwing his hat in the presidential ring in 2020.
Here’s the bombshell, at least in the view of the rabid partisan Trump supporters. Mayor Giles told Senator Flake:
And I am not throwing smoke at you, but you are the guy. Just for fun, think about how much fun it would be, just to be the foil, you know, and point out what an idiot this guy (Trump) is.
No sooner than ABC15 played the audio from that on the local Phoenix news, then the proverbial ‘S-storm’ descended on Giles. Never mind that Mayor Giles made an accurate assessment of Trump, because, deny it as you might – Trump is an idiot, no matter whether Arizonans – at least a vocal plurality of them, are in severe denial about it.
The reaction was not for the faint of heart. One individual emailed Giles, addressing him in the subject line, “Dear Mayor Dumbass” and praying that Giles die a slow, painful death from Testicular Cancer. Nice. And then there was Twitter, Donald Trump’s home turf.
Some termed Giles “a traitor to the Republican party” as if questioning Trump’s intelligence or sanity is tantamount to disloyalty to the GOP. By that definition, anyone with actively functioning frontal lobes, a sense of discernment and critical thinking is a traitor to the GOP.
It is not known whether Mayor Giles was under pressure to issue an apologetic statement or whether he opted to do so on his own initiative, but here was the statement:
“My words, while regrettably informal and imprecise during a private conversation, were a manifestation of my frustration and concern with national politics. I want to apologize to those who might have misinterpreted my comments as being critical or dismissive of the intelligence of the voters who elected both me and the President. Much of the feed back I have received has come from people outside of Mesa and usually Arizona. I hope Mesa residents will look at my history and recognize that I will always put their interests ahead of partisan politics as I? work to strengthen our city.”
Pro-forma, throwing water on the fire, yada, yada, yada.
It’s notable that when you closely examine this statement, Giles does not retract his assessment of Trump, he only apologizes for any implications that might be drawn about the intelligence of voters. Probably the sort of obligatory, typical gesture that has become customary in this sort of situation.
Fortunately, I am not bound by the protocols of elected officialdom. Giles was right on the live mike, and he’s still right. Trump is an idiot – and so are his voters.