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 comments so far.

  1. avatar Michelle Cook says:

    I’ve been “moderated”. Back to beating a dead horse – Obama has never had an Indonesian citizenship. debunked this September 2009. I previously posted the actual findings, but for some reason, they aren’t being posted. In short, Obama’s step father indicated in the forms he filled out to enroll young Barry in school that he was born in Hawaii. Since he was still a minor child, it was not necessary for him to be an Indonesian citizen in order to go to school or live in that country, especially since he lived with a citizen. After all, it’s not like they’re going to separate a mother from her 4 year old. According to snopes: 
    “The automatic acquisition or retention of a foreign nationality, acquired, for example, by birth in a foreign country or through an alien parent, doesn not affect U.S. citizenship.
    Parents cannot renounce U.S. citizenship on behalf of their minor children. Before an oath of renunciation will be administered under Section 349 (a)(5) of the INA, A person under the age of eighteen must convince a U.S. diplomatic or consular officer that he/she fully understands the nature and consequences of the oath of renunciation, is not subject to duress or undue influence, and is voluntarily seeking to renounch his/her U.S. citizenship.”

    Fullbright scholarships awarded for Foreign students are only awarded to graduate or Ph.d students, not Freshman.  There was no ban on Americans traveling to Pakistan in 1981. Americans were told that they would have to get 30-day visas at the border in the travel section of the New York Times in July of that year. All this info is at

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      If you posted a link to a story it is automatically blocked to keep all the “merchants” from announcing their lates “online deals” on everything.  Complete with a link to their website.

  2. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    Maybe if we ask nicely Queen Elizabeth will take us back. That appears to be our only hope.

  3. avatar annee says:

    DT is an opportunist, and a liar. Being brought to the painful awareness of the quality
    of some of the bloggers makes me wonder whether there’s a cult out there for Trump
    bloggers. It’s insanity, how else could their poisenous words be explained.? I will not give them credit because like Trump they are fostering more hate and racism in this country. Shame Shame. I have a clue that they’ll probably go to their churchs on
    Sunday and there their ravings will be validated. Get some help.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      There’s always a cult with the candidates.  Like little children following the Pied Piper.

      • avatar crystalclear says:

        I could not disagree with you more, Baby Snooks.   When you voted for Obama did you accept that he was in a cult and following along behind the Pied Piper?    I don’t think so.

        They are all individuals and what we must do is check out their backgrounds and their voting records because only then can we be certain who they really are.    All of this information is on line.   Even though Senator Obama voted “present” over 100 times during his short stint as a Senator it showed that he was getting ready to run for President and didn’t want to leave a trail behind him.   He voted against raising the debt limit.   Now he wants everyone to vote for it.

        It is up to us to know everything we can possibly know about the candidates.   I believe we’ll find Donald Trump to have a fairly pristine background when compared to the political scumbags who are led by lobbyists, major corporations, etc.    We won’t find that with Trump or Palin for that matter.   I’ll have to include Michelle Bachmann as well.   The others I haven’t researched…..yet.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        I think you misunderstood and I don’t believe that Barack Obama was par tof any cult but he certainly had a “cult following” which is what I referred to.  I voted for him because I couldn’t stand the thought of Hillar Clinton becoming president particularyl after the “race” for the nomination which she made sure was filled with racist and Islamic “nuances” which of course she always blamed on her “cult following” whch in her case was probably a well-paid one. I voted for him for president because I couldn’t stand the thought of John McCain becoming priesident and having “Backwoods Barbie” as the “stand-in” sort of “sealed the deal for me.” Over-the-Hill Ken and his Twisted Sisters Barbie Dolls. Barbizon Barbie and Backwoods Barbie. 

        But part of it was, well, it was time for an African-American.  And in the end, honestly, I probably would have voted for him on that basis alone. Just to irritate everyone.

        When Kinky Friedman ran for governor of Texas, well, nothing would havgiven me more pleasure than knowing all the god-fearing Bible-thumping big-haired big-boobed “ladies” of Highland Park were fainting all over Dallas over the thought of “The Texas Jewboys” playing at the inauguration. In a perfect world. 

        I have no interest in cults. Or in Pied Pipers. And even less interest in racists. And the bulk of the Tea Baggers are racist. I live in Texas.  I can hear a rattesnake begin to coil and rattle from 2 miles.  And racists from 10.  And every time this “birther” issue is raised, I can hear the rattle of racism. That those who voted for him would join in on the issue just amazes me. But then nothing amazes me, really. Particularly the American voters. And it wouldn’t surprise me if Donald Trump wins the nomination. But it would surprise me if Donald Trump wins the election and became president.  So much so that I would walk to Costa Rica if need be.  Although I suspect I could find a ride very  esily given the mass exodus that would occur after the election results were announced.

      • avatar crystalclear says:

        Baby Snooks, I did misunderstand that part of your post.   Any wild fires near you?

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Just the wild fires I seem to inevitably start on the internet….

      • avatar crystalclear says:

        Baby Snooks, that’s because you are a rascal *biggest grin*    I can see you now….typing along…saying “tee hee hee.”   No harm done.   Kicking up the dust in Texas that would be Baby Snooks keeping us on our toes!

        Glad the wildfires aren’t your way.   I wish they weren’t any one’s way…what a tragedy going on in Texas.   Pray for rain!

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        I find myself praying of late that someone at Buckingham Palace will find a 1776 Christmas card from the founding fathers.  “Just having a little fun. Hope you enjoyed the joke.” Of course Queen Elizabeth would probably toss it into the fireplace and never say a word. Which is probably what I would do at this point.

  4. avatar D C says:

    Re: Bill Cunningham and everything New York — geez!  And they say Texans are pompous!

  5. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    A liberal asked a fascinating question the other day. “Why do middle-class conservatives keep voting for politicians who only represent the rich?” The same question could be asked about middle-class liberals. All these labels. The middle-class apparently has figured out neither party represents them and so we have all these labels.  Liberal. Conservative. Libertarian. Centrist. Moderate. . Progressive. Left. Right. Somewhere-in-Between. The Tea Party. The Coffee Party. At the end of the day, there is only the two parties. On the ballot.

    Still the question. Fascinating. What is the difference a middle-class liberal who votes for a Democrat and a middle-class conservative who votes for a Republican? 

    A middle-class liberal believes in the Tooth Fairy and believes there should be a COLA adjustment and so the Tooth Fairy should leave $100 instead of $1.  Even though the Tooth Fairy can only afford to leave $50.

     A middle-class conservative believes in the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and believes it all “trickles-down.” Including the $50 for the Tooth Fairy.

    The poor know the Tooth Fairy keeps most of it for herself and they still end up with only $1 but keep voting for Democrats because they’re afraid of losing the $1.

    The rich know it only “trickles up” and don’t need to vote because they buy the politicians in both parties. And know well the wisdom of PT Barnum. There’s a sucker born every minute.

  6. avatar isa says:

    Good afternoon Snooks I hope you are well. Since you defined what middle class liberal is like please allow me to jump in, as I feel your definition is not entirely correct.  A lot of us middle class, upper middle class “liberals” do not believe the tooth fairy should leave $ 100 instaed of $ 1, even though the tooth fairy can only afford $ 50.  Many, many of us feel so blessed and grateful of what was given to us and how we were able to utilize those gifts, be it from pure luck, fortune or just hard work.  Yet we are still very much aware of those who were not as lucky, due to circumstances, lack of opportunity, race or whatever, and then we see some of the yet luckier ones calling them names literally and in actions, such as, “lazy, low class, fag, welfare queen, fatherless, motherless no good black mother effer” and on and on…And so we are left with a choice, join the trickle up wagon, which we could, and some of us do very gracefully – in words we support and in actions we are only too happy to be on the lucky side of the fence -and/or we pause….and keep asking what’s really going on? and how can we make a difference?  As we know damn well it is not about  “the budget”, “the deficit”, “the stimulating the economy”, at this point it is about human values and what we collectlively decide to put our attention to.  

    So Mr Trump decides to join the birthers.  No surprise there.  Obviously he knows The President is a US citizen, but his attentioin has to stay where he feels it is going to trickle up for him, while he gets the most attention he can get.  That is who Trump is.

    Not all liberals believe the tooth fairy needs to provide.  In fact, quite the opposite they believe human worth is so priceless and potentially immensely productive in all people regardless of race or socioeconomic class. What a waste of human potential when a society  so easily disregards a vast majority as useless, and in turns favors only the ones who appear to play the “trickle up” game so well!  Being a liberal might be more conservative than one would think.  It is about nurturing and conserving all our resouces, human resources, environmental resources and not just corporate resources.



    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      My impression of the political circus at this time is exactly as I stated it and while there are always exceptions to the  rules, the rules just the same are the rules. And the extremists in both parties have it clear what the rules are. The poor get it. The rich get it.  The middle-class doesn’t get it. Which is why the middle-class always gets stuck with the bill.

      And of course today the news is Donald Trump hasn’t voted in 21 years. Why would he? He buys what he needs. Enough said?

  7. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    I grew up watching the kings and their kingmakers at a private club in Houston called The Ramada Club. Looking back I realize the (D) and the (R) was always checked along with the hats and coats. The Bushes, the Bakers, and the Candlestickmakers as I call them. And LBJ.

    All a little scary then. Even scarier looking back. And looking around.

  8. avatar crystalclear says:

    Peggy Noonan on how the World views the US:

    Does anyone think Donald Trump can rebuild our image around the world or would he further destroy it? 

    Peggy Noonan is clear and precise in her accurate view on how the US looks to the rest of the world.    I believe President Obama has in two years done more damage to our reputation than the last three Presidents.    Could Donald Trump do what he says he will do and bring respect back to the United States of America?    

    Good question. 

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      I believe President Obama has in two years done more damage to our reputation than the last three Presidents.  


      You may be right but it’s the result of his having continued the policies of the last three presidents.. Based on Trump’s “it’s our oil” comments, you can be assured Trump would as well. The world has had enough of our  “millions of lives for billions of barrels” policy.