Give the Trump devil his due
In “Doctor Faustus,” the 16th-century play by Christopher Marlowe, a physician makes a deal with Lucifer, who guarantees him 24 years of the good life. In exchange, at the end of that term, the doctor must give his soul to Lucifer and spend eternity in hell.
On its face, it does not seem like a good deal, unless Faustus thought that he would find a way to weasel out of it at the end. That way, he could get all that he wanted from the deal without giving the devil his due. But if that was his plan, it got away from him.
It is a cautionary tale for Democrats, who have relished the successes of Donald Trump as each of his primary victories wreaks chaos on the Republican Party. Democrats have gotten what they want out of Trump's run — but none of them expected to pay a price for that. No one thought that he could win the nomination.
Like Doc Faustus, the Trump campaign has been comedic and tragic. In the beginning, the reality show host played court jester or operatic buffo, popping in and out of scenes, bringing a smile with his egocentric antics.
As recently as last week, he was still at it. At the news conference after his victories in Mississippi and Michigan, he displayed his namesake steaks, wine, water and magazine. Finally there is an unabashed huckster running for office, proudly promoting his wares.
But the tragic theme is everywhere. Trump has begun telling the thousands of white people who attend his rallies to raise their right hands and swear allegiance to him. It looks too much like the Roman salute, which was adopted by Mussolini and later the Nazis. Trump dismisses those comparisons as media fiction.
Trump proclaimed that he would order our military to use torture and target the families of terrorists, obviously unconcerned that those acts are war crimes. Former CIA director and retired Gen. Michael Hayden quickly addressed those plans, saying, “If he were to order that once in government, the American Armed Forces would refuse to act.”
The low-point of the Trump campaign, at least for now, occurred at a Kentucky rally last week. Trump supporters physically and verbally assaulted a young black woman for attempting to silently protest Trump's candidacy.
Young and old — and all white — these sorry excuses for men shouted racial insults and manhandled her and no one went to her aid. It was a spot-on replay of those grainy films of Birmingham police Commissioner “Bull” Connor as he allowed angry white mobs to attack civil rights protesters in the 1960s.
Many Democrats have enjoyed watching the Republican Party crumble under the Trump wrecking ball; they even encouraged it. But if they thought that he would remain a Republican problem, that plan seems to have gotten away from them.
And it might soon be time to give the devil his due for that Faustian bargain.
Joseph Sabino Mistick, a lawyer, law professor and political analyst, lives in Squirrel Hill.