Friday, July 17, 2015

Penn Jillette on Donald Trump

Penn Jillette makes an uncommonly nuanced and respectful argument against Donald Trump's run for president during a radio interview (video below):

Thelonious Monk, the great jazz piano player, . . . said, "The genius is the one who is most like himself." And that's what I love about Bob Dylan, Lenny Bruce, Tiny Tim — they were completely like themselves. And Trump, for better or worse, is in that category. I have talked one-on-one with Bob Dylan, and I have talked one-on-one with Trump, and they do not have filters. They speak honestly and from the heart.

Unfortunately, when you move into the political arena, when you're speaking from the heart, if your heart has some really dark, wrong areas, and that comes out too, that becomes very, very unpleasant. When someone who's a comic says something about immigrants in this country, it's in the category of a character; it's in the category of context. But when a person who is telling us — we don't know how seriously he's really taking it, but let's . . . give him the respect of saying he's taking it seriously — when he says that what I'm saying is going to have some policy implications, then all of a sudden, we have to be our better selves. It is perfectly OK for you to be personally a little uncomfortable with certain immigrants. It is not OK for our country to be that way.

So if you say that to your friends, or in the context of a radio show, or just speaking, I will defend that. But if you say, "Now, I'm going to take these prejudices that I have, and say them in your name, in the international arena," I'm going to go, "Oh — baby! If you're going to be our spokesman, you've gotta be better than you are personally. You've gotta be better." And Trump . . . the very honesty that I respect him for so much — if you're going to be president, we can't have that. . . .

When you go out there, you've got to be the best of us. And I mean that on everything. It's the way I feel about capital punishment. People say all the time, "But if your family — these monsters — don't you feel like they should be put to death?" And the answer is: of course I feel that. But as a society, as a culture, we want to be better, you know? What we want out of the United States of America — what we want is to be better than we are individually. I want to be proud of our country because our country is better than me.

You know, I don't want "the guy that I'm going to have a beer with — he's just like me." If the guy is just like me, don't be ____ing president! You know?

And I can talk to Donald Trump really comfortably. He's really smart. He has a lot of interesting things to say. But I want somebody that's one notch up, for president.