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As the 2020 election approached, I found myself behaving more and more like Kevin McCarthy's character at the end of the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Understandably, that worried my wife, who was shocked and confused that her ordinarily laid-back husband had turned into a raving maniac.

The cause of my concern was Donald Trump, and my fear he might again fool millions of voters. I consider him the most despicable person on the planet, yet there are those who strongly disagree. And when the ballots were counted, more than 72 million people supported Trump's bullshit.

My wife has a tendency to take Trump in stride. She's well aware of his many shortcomings, but, after all, that's just the way he is, which is an interesting defense for an incompetent president who's a liar, a cheat, and a con man. I wonder how many people would have excused Bill Clinton if he'd simply admitted receiving oral sex in the White House from Monica Lewinsky, rather than offer a convoluted explanation of how he really hadn't had sex with her ... even if she'd had sex with him. If he'd taken the Popeye route and said, "I am what I am," he might have scored points with people who later gave Donald Trump a free pass because, well, he is what he is.

The thing that upsets me is what Trump's rise to the presidency in 2016 — and even his defeat four years later — said about so many Americans who either can't recognize a con job or somehow admire the unscrupulous person behind it. Donald Trump has even less sensitivity and conscience than the fictional Jimmy McGill of "Better Call Saul." You can get much worse than that.

Upsetting me even more is that otherwise intelligent Republicans continue to support and coddle a man-child who refuses to tell the truth, who puts himself at the center of everything, takes credit for the work of others, but no responsibility for his mistakes. These Republicans are afraid to upset the spoiled brat for fear he'll stomp off, start his own political party, and take his supporters with him.

THE PERSON who disappoints me most is Nikki Haley, who was governor of South Carolina for six years (2011-2016). As governor, she seemed a breath of fresh air, taking office about a week before her 39th birthday. She was, I thought, a realistic conservative, young enough to see the need for some change, old enough to understand and appreciate the past. She was one Republican I voted for, and I had hopes she might some day make a bid for the presidency. Perhaps she still might, though she'll never again get my vote because I now view her as an opportunist, an enigma wrapped in shameless ambition.

At the root of my new opinion is her puzzling relationship with Donald Trump, who, in 2017, appointed her ambassador to the United Nations, a position she held for nearly two years. I thought when she left that post that maybe she'd gotten wise to Trump, but, no, she continues to be loyal to the worst president in United States history, perhaps believing this will benefit her more than to demonstrate she will not be a lackey for Despicable Donald.

Oh, she spoke out once, in 2017, when she said that women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct should be heard. Reportedly, Trump was upset that Mrs. Haley spoke out on this touchy subject.

Mrs. Haley's relationship with Trump itself became a touchy subject in 2018 when "Fire and Fury", a Michael Wolff book about Trump, hinted the president was having an affair. Some concluded his girl friend must be Mrs. Haley, who responded by saying she was highly insulted by the unfounded rumor.

She left her United Nations job two years ago and was under the radar until she spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention and sounded very much like a Trump puppet. It was not her finest hour.

Two months later, as Trump went into his sulk about losing the election, another Wolff book was published. It is titled "Siege". In it, Wolff claims the president bragged about receiving oral sex from Mrs. Haley. We can assume it never happened, but it's easy to believe Trump said it. Such a remark is just so Donald. I've read that Mrs. Haley has long been aware that Trump said such a thing, and confronted him about it. Why she remains such a Trump supporter — in her public utterances, at least — is something that puzzles me, unless, of course, she hopes this is the best way to advance politically, which, I assume, is the same reason Mitch McConnell and other Republicans have become such pathetic Trump supplicants.

HOWEVER, I prefer to believe Mrs. Haley's supportive statements at the Republican convention and during Trump's post-election breakdown have a different explanation. That gets me back to my "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" theory. Maybe one of those pods that Kevin McCarthy was yelling about has replaced Nikki Haley.

Maybe that's why, during the convention, the Nikki Haley pod delivered a pathetic speech, using herself as an example to prove America is not a racist country. She was born Nimrata Randhawa, daughter of two immigrants from India. Because her skin was a couple of shades darker than her white classmates, she put herself in the role of a black American. She made it to the top, thus there is no racism rampant in the land.

She went on to tell a vastly oversimplified version of how, in 2015, the Confederate flag was finally removed from the flagpole on the statehouse grounds in Columbia, South Carolina, as if to say, "See how easy that was!" It only took 150 years.

Then, after the Atlantic magazine article revealed the extent of Donald Trump's disdain for American servicemen, Haley went public in denying Trump feels the way he was portrayed in the article, and she called upon Joe Biden to take down an internet posting of a quote from that article, which was interesting because (1) the quote was accurate, and (2) Haley, so far as I know, never asked President Trump to remove or apologize for any highly inaccurate statement he made, either directly to the press or via Twitter. Trump went so far as to use doctored footage of Biden in his television ads, and Ms. Haley did not say, "Boo."

ALMOST AS disappointing to me was the appearance at the Republican convention of Lou Holtz, the former football coach, who upset his former bosses at Notre Dame University for the statements he made about Joe Biden's Catholicism, claiming the Democratic candidate was Catholic in name only.

It certainly wasn't Holtz's place to say anything about anyone else's religious beliefs, and he apparently did it as part of a deal to receive the Medal of Freedom, which Trump announced a couple of weeks after the convention.

Why Holtz's shameful behavior disappoints me so much is that we don't have many former Kent State students who become nationally known, especially through sports. There's Nick Saban, now the enormously successful football coach at the University of Alabama, and Julian Edelman, the little guy who proved he could perform in the National Football League.

I happened to attend Kent State University while Holtz was a student. I nearly joined the same fraternity, but lasted only a few days as a Delta Upsilon pledge before I decided Greek life was not for me. I remember seeing Holtz during a couple of his visits to the student newspaper office. He was regarded as a funny guy, and was very well liked. Certainly everyone laughed at his jokes.

He was on the football team for a couple of seasons, but I don't remember him as a player. The only reason I remembered his name was because it was the same as a comedian who'd show up from time to time on television. I even thought they might be father and son.

KENT STATE Lou Holtz went on to have a very successful career as a coach, and continued to amuse people with his witty comments. But his dealings with Trump this summer have soured me, both for what Holtz said and why. In any list of Medal of Freedom winners, there should be an asterisk next to Lou Holtz's name.

Donald Trump is such a disgusting person that it's easy to suspect people who support him have been blackmailed to do so. I guess one of my problems is I've watched "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" too many times. Guys like Trump aren't supposed to prevail, because we trust Americans to see phonies for what they are. Unless, of course, those Americans are pod people.

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