Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM’s weekly program “The Dean Obeidallah Show,” a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of the politics blog The Dean’s Report. Follow him on Twitter: @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
Dean Obeidallah: Glenn Beck is right it would be a big mistake if Donald Trump were elected
Obeidallah: Imagine if Trump were to use federal agencies to punish his political enemies
It will be a “gigantic mistake if this country chooses Donald Trump” as its next president, Glenn Beck declared last week. He added that Trump will be a “monster much, much worse” than Barack Obama.
This may be the first and possibly the last time that I agree with Beck (except for the part that Obama has been a monster.)
Beck’s impassioned criticism of Trump must be applauded because it’s actually a profile in courage. As he noted, some of his conservative listeners may “hate” his guts for this no-holds-barred slam of Trump. But Beck still felt compelled to tell the truth, even acknowledging it could hurt him financially if some of his listeners tuned out.
So what is so terrifying about Trump that Beck would risk financial losses to tell us? Well, he truly believes that if Trump were elected president of the United States, he would use the apparatus of the federal government to exact revenge upon his political enemies.
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Beck, conjuring up Richard Nixon infamously using federal government agencies to punish his political rivals, declared: “Do you think Trump has an enemies’ list?! Damn right he does!” Adding, “You don’t think this guy (Trump) with the tools of the IRS at his disposal would use it against his political enemies’ list.”
Beck went on to explain he views Trump as a “narcissistic character” who “gets vengeance and gets angry” and loves teaching his critics and rivals a lesson.
No one can dispute that Trump has lashed out on Twitter and in the media against anyone who dares criticize him or even just fails to kiss his ring. The only question is: Would Trump, if elected president, trade in Twitter for federal government agencies to attack his rivals?
Before you answer, let’s take a quick stroll down Trump’s lashing-out-lane from the past few months.
• In November, a black protester, who had frequently interrupted Trump at a campaign event, was punched and shoved by Trump’s white supporters while reportedly calling the man a “monkey” and “the N word.” Trump publicly responded the next day, “Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”
• In July, after Sen. John McCain criticized Trump’s extreme views on immigration as firing “up the crazies,” Trump responded by mocking McCain for being captured by the enemy during the Vietnam War. Trump even scoffed at the idea McCain was a “war hero,” saying instead, “I like people that weren’t captured, OK?”
• After the first GOP debate where he felt that Fox News’ Megyn Kelly had unfairly questioned him, Trump infamously said: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes … blood coming out of her wherever.” Critics accused him of saying Kelly was having her period, but he denied it.
• At a recent campaign rally in Vermont, Trump was so annoyed that a heckler interrupted him that he bellowed: “All right, get him out. …Get him out of here!” he said, adding, “Don’t give him his coat! Keep his coat. You know it’s about 10 degrees below zero outside.”
And the list goes on and on, with Trump ridiculing the disability of a reporter who refused to confirm his version of the facts, to mocking Carly Fiorina’s face, to threatening to sue political opponents, to even publicly mocking actor Samuel L. Jackson a few weeks ago for suggesting the billionaire cheated at golf.
In fact, Trump made Beck’s very point by the way he responded to the TV host’s recent criticism. In words that I doubt any leading presidential candidate has used to mock a member of the media, Trump declared on Saturday that Beck is a “really dopey guy” who “looks like hell.”
Responding to Beck’s appearance Friday on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox show, Trump asked, “Bill, why do you have a guy like that on television?”
Putting aside Trump’s snarky comments, the alarming point is that the candidate truly is asking why would any media outlet feature someone who criticizes him.
Knowing what we do about Trump, can we trust him as president not to use the Internal Revenue Service or other government agencies to punish his political enemies, as Beck fears? No one can tell us for sure but looking at Trump’s track record so far, Beck was right to ask: “Do you want that kind of guy as your president?!”