Lies, Damned Lies, and Donald Trump

Hal Holbrook Looks Pretty Much Like My Uncle Sam


I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…

There is no fool like an April fool, and I went to see one today. I don’t mean Hal Holbrook, the magnificent ninety-two-year-old actor who for the past sixty-three years has made his living channeling my multiply-great uncle Sam Clemens, whom many people recall as Mark Twain.

Mr. Holbrook performed “Mark Twain Tonight” in Denver. Tickets to his performance were a gift from my children, who thought their old dad, and significantly younger mom, ought to at last see this inspiring portrayal of the distant relative (grandmama was a Clemens) he’d bragged on all their growing years.

Mark Twain talked and wrote a lot about politicians, so it wasn’t surprising that Hal Holbrook would speak to his Denver audience about politicians, and he did. He talked about the President of the United States.

“No high-minded man, no man of right feeling, can contemplate the lumbering and slovenly lying of the present day without grieving to see a noble art so prostituted,” he lamented.

Piling on, he said, “I think the President is clearly insane in several ways, and insanest upon war and its supreme glories. I think he longs for a big war wherein he can spectacularly perform as chief general and chief admiral, and go down in history as the only monarch of modern times that has served both offices at the same time.”

Well, this was just too much to bear for one Trump voter in the audience, who interrupted the performance to shout from his seat, “Where’s Mark Twain?”

In the age of Trump, heckling of the old, the lame, and the less-than-seven-on-a-scale-to-ten is enjoying a big comeback. But to answer that boor’s question, Mark Twain was right there in front of his eyes. What that April fool didn’t understand, because stupidity is the close companion of boorishness, is that Hal Holbrook was reciting the words of Mark Twain, who had the great good fortune never to meet the forty-fifth President, but had met the twenty-sixth: Teddy Roosevelt.



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5 Responses to Lies, Damned Lies, and Donald Trump

  1. Brad Schwartz 11 April 2017 at 3:56 pm #

    Your anecdote made my day personally and after especially after watching the news about the president’s spokesperson comparing Assad to Hitler. It was one of the more painful press conferences.

  2. James A Bordonaro 10 April 2017 at 12:24 pm #

    I actually had the opportunity as a child to visit Clemens’ restored home in Hartford, CT.

  3. James A Bordonaro 10 April 2017 at 12:22 pm #

    Ha! Well done sir, well done.

  4. steve lacheen 6 April 2017 at 10:15 am #

    I had a sense of where this anecdote was going, but I enjoyed it immensely anyway, as I enjoy your writings generally. The person in the audience ought to have been given a complementary copy of Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 novel for a pre-GPS directional roadmap of the course ahead, if clearer heads don’t prevail sooner rather than later. The word that those political morons need to understand is “coalition.”

  5. g sheehan 5 April 2017 at 10:20 am #

    good one Mr. Clemens!

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