To what does Charles Barkley attribute Donald Trump’s rise as the Republican Presidential frontrunner?
“TV sound bites,” the Turner basketball analyst, himself a famous producer of them, said Tuesday. “I think what happened was he made some great sound bites and news organizations love good sound bites, clearly. He draws ratings.
“So every time he says something, whether you like it or not, the TV network is like, ‘He said what?’ and they’re going to go to that.”
When it was pointed out to Barkley that he, too, is one of the nation’s most formidable quote machines, he said, “I hope I don’t insult that many people . . . I don’t think you can compare us two.”
Perhaps, but as he further discussed politics at a CBS/Turner breakfast in Manhattan to promote the upcoming NCAA Tournament coverage, Barkley did what he often does — and what Trump often does — by speaking in blunt terms rarely heard from public figures.
Among other things, he called poor people “stupid” for not seeing how they are exploited as political “chess pieces.”
“Republicans always do a good job of divide and conquer,” Barkley said. “They do a really good job of making black folks, poor white folks and Hispanics not like each other. Everybody wants to talk about black and white, but the situation is really about rich people against poor people.
“Republicans do the best job of making white folk, black folk and Latinos not like each other. That’s not just something I’m saying right now. I say it all the time . . . All they ever talk about is immigration. The notion that illegal immigrants are ruining our country and taking jobs that we actually want is just total [expletive].
“What’s different [about that] than shipping all our jobs out of the country? That’s to me worse than a few Hispanics who come here to work their behind off. If you’re a poor white person and your life [stinks], it’s easy for you to blame Hispanics because you don’t want to look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the reason my life [stinks].’ Republicans do a really good job of exploiting that.”
Barkley said he always has voted for Democrats for President, but he expressed admiration for Republican primary candidate John Kasich.
Asked whether he worries that he will be criticized for talking about politics rather than sticking to basketball, he said, “Everybody can vote, can’t they? Everybody wants you to be honest unless they disagree with you. I will always be honest and straightforward.
“First of all, I know I’m right. People want to make politics about black and white. It has nothing to do with black and white. All politics is is rich people [expletive] the poor people. But the poor people are too stupid to know they’re just chess pieces in a game.
“All the poor white people, all the poor black people and all the Hispanics, they’re in the same boat. They have no economic opportunity. Born in a [expletive] neighborhood. They go to a [expletive] school and they spend all their time blaming each other because rich people throw words at them like ‘illegal immigration’ and ‘racism’ and things like that.
“If the poor people would ever get smart [they would] realize: We should band together and rise up instead of fighting each other, we could probably make a difference.”
Barkley expressed frustration with the ideological gridlock of government in the 21st century.
“The whole thing has turned me off because it’s gotten to the point where I watched the last eight years of Barack [Obama] and the Republicans disagree with every single thing he says or does. I feel bad for these people. I feel bad for the American people . . . They disagree on every subject. If that’s not the silliest [expletive].
“There’s not a person in the world I disagree with on every subject. That’s impossible. But if you watch these political shows . . . they disagree on every subject. That’s impossible.”
Then again . . .
“It’s going to have zero effect on my life who the President is,” Barkley said. “I’m going to be rich either way.”