Obama and reporters hope Trump will run
Donald Trump for President? What?!!!! The very idea borders on national insanity. My bet is that this is just a ploy to make The Donald even more infamous than he already is. Hey, as P.T. Barnum is reputed to have said, “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right.” Trump is a natural heir to circus man Barnum.
The polls are all over the place on this. One recent poll found Trump trouncing all his Republican competitors. Another showed almost forty seven percent of the American people understandably not happy with the guy. There are lots of reasons why this may be true — his obvious buffoonery, his adoption of the “birther” credo (Obama wasn’t born in this country); his failure in his casino empire; his hair (or lack thereof); his treatment of ex-wives, to name a few. But millions of Americans watched him sadistically tell people on the small screen, “You’re fired” and unhappy people really love that stuff. In a strident, divided America we are approaching our politics the same way the Romans watched the gladiators. We watch to see some make others bleed.
But more than any of this, Trump’s only hope lies in the lack of depth in the Republican bench. There was a time when giants like Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob Javits, and Ken Keating walked the political landscape. Now, these who really did follow the traditions of Lincoln are gone and the charlatans and cheap shot artists have taken over. We’ve got our Sarah Palins and Rudy Giulianis and a bunch of no-name Republicans who the American people wouldn’t know if they fell over them. The new crew plays to those who don’t know any better. They scream about where Obama was born or adopt jingoistic slogans against those who have crossed the borders trying to make a better home for themselves the way our grandparents did. The only thing that matters is the legitimacy conferred by the stupid television on modern celebrities. From that point of view, Trump is an ideal candidate. The more he shakes his fist, the more he gets the hater crowd.
But of course, Trump has got to know that all his wheeling and dealing will leave tracks. Early reports already have him giving tons of money to liberal Democratic candidates. The guy will be another journalistic happy dream. People will chase down every deal he’s ever made. Disgruntled former partners in his projects will appear out of nowhere, anxious to tell their side of deals gone bad.
Celebrity has its limits. For his part, Obama must be kneeling at the side of his bed every evening praying for Trump to take the Republican nomination. Trump makes pretty boys like Mitt Romney look great by comparison but Mitt has a political record. In an effort to grab the independents and political moderates, he tried to solve the health care problem in Massachusetts and actually set the stage for what the Republican shrill voices refer to as “Obamacare.” Now Mitt finds himself on the other side of the screamers. Trump, of course, is a New Yorker’s New Yorker, no matter where he says he will vote from. There is no way in the world Trump will carry New York where so many people see the guy as an anathema. In fact, most New Yorkers will see the guy as an embarrassment. It is one thing to laugh at him but it is an entirely different thing to really respect him. Sooner or later, most will figure out that the only thing that matters to Trump is Trump.
Of course, in the end he’ll have to get through individual primaries. You don’t get the Republican nomination for president by leading in the national polls. First you have to go to Iowa and New Hampshire and spend inordinate amounts of time explaining yourself to reporters who will pounce on every word, ready to trap you and watch you crash and burn.
Crash and burn he will.
Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 4/19/11