Celia Rivenbark

Making America 8 Again | From the Belle Tower

In his continuing quest to “make America 8 again,” Donald Trump has successfully lowered the level of debate to that of the ubiquitous red-faced bully we all remember from elementary school. Every school has one; it’s practically a Central Casting requirement like “kindly lunchroom lady who gives you extra fries when you look sad” and “abusive gym teacher who won’t accept “leprosy, I swear” as an excuse to get out of laps on a hot day.”

Yes, when I see Donald Trump lashing out at his opponents, all I can see is the worst, and arguably smallest-handed third-grade bully ever.

Says who?

Says me.

You and whose army?

See how it works?

If he’s elected, I can easily envision Trump smirking and dropping the mic after a good ol’ fashioned “Oh, yeah? Your mama AND your greasy grandma. Vladimir.”

So I worry about America’s place in the world if Trump the Bully wins in November. No, wait. What I meant to say was I WORRY ABOUT AMERICA’S PLACE IN THE WORLD IF TRUMP THE BULLY WINS IN NOVEMBER.

Sorry. He makes me crazy.

Now, a real-life story.

Many years ago, my parents went to Atlantic City on vacation and stayed at the Trump Taj Mahal. When they checked in, their standard room wasn’t ready. Suddenly, and I’m not making this up, Donald Trump himself strode through the lobby, approached the registration desk, overheard their plight and said, “Why don’t you just give ‘em a suite?”

My parents, lifelong Democrats-- just like Trump used to be-- were very grateful to say the least. To this day, I have Polaroids they took of one another lounging in oceanfront opulence, cheesily gesturing toward crystal chandeliers and golden bathroom fixtures. There is even a photo of my dad, immersed in chest-high suds in the yuuuuge living room Jacuzzi. A tub in the living room? This was heady stuff for a rural public school teacher and his wife of many decades.

It made for a fun story to tell (“Donald Trump himself upgraded our room!”)

I tell you this to say that I don’t think Donald Trump is inherently evil. Or at least not completely. How often have we heard you can measure a person’s character by how he or she treats someone who can do nothing for them in return?

What happened to the Donald Trump who casually did a solid for a weary middle-aged couple from Southeastern North Carolina? It’s a rhetorical question. He has long ago left the building. In bankruptcy.

Trump’s dangerous rhetoric, his divisive bully behavior, his phony-baloney strict moral code, his willingness to plunge us into war with the rest of the world as casually as though we’re living inside a video game, his racism, his sexism and his disdain for the working and non-working poor is Trump today. And that Polaroid of my dad happily relaxing in that tub with the carpeted stairs leading up to it? That image has almost completely faded.

Celia Rivenbark is the New York Times best-selling author of “Rude B****** Make Me Tired.” Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.