This happens every four years like clockwork. America gets an early frontrunner for President based on early poll numbers; the less Presidential the better. Remember President Cain four years ago? It was “ 999” all the time. And then there was President Bachman (????) and President Palin (“I can see Russia from my house”) and a dozen more would-be Presidents, but in the end Mitt Romney was the nominee of the GOP and Barack Obama was the President of the United States. Sorry, everybody else. This has been the case in modern times. Remember President Ross Perot, President George Wallace and even President Strom Thurmond of the Dixiecrat Party? As colorful as all these people were, it was not enough to elect them President even though they all got their own nomination. In fact the rule is, the more colorful, the less chance of making it to the White House. The latest version of this is The Donald. His vistas of narcissism and outrageousness are exactly what make him so entertaining. Who knows how much of his overblown rhetoric he believes (I think he believes all of it); he is far and away “must see TV.”
The Donald gained immediate traction in his announcement speech by labeling Mexican immigrants as criminals, drug pushers and rapists. Within a couple of weeks he was leading in major national polls. As candidate Trump would say, it was HUGE. He also reminded us of how rich he was at $8.7 billion dollars. A couple of weeks later he filed his financial disclosure paperwork claiming a net worth of more than “TEN BILLION DOLLARS” (emphasis, the candidate). My reaction was simply, that is the best two weeks in business history, but of course we are talking The Donald, so…
The initial big losers were serious candidates who couldn’t break through the bluster to get their message out. As with all the other Presidents cited, this probably won’t last; at least I hope not. Because The Donald is a thin-skinned insult machine, it is a matter of time before he explodes. That has already happened in the business community. Witness NBC, Univision, Macy’s, Serta, NASCAR, the PGA, et al., who distanced themselves from The Donald’s comments on immigration within a week of his announcement for President. The numbers will only mount as the Donald continues to open his mouth. But that’s not where the fun is.
For the pure entertainment of people like me, nothing beats a personal attack on a well known person to drive up the ratings and eventually drive down a candidate’s approval rating with the voters. Everybody who is not The Donald is, according to him, “a disaster,” “terrible,” “a loser,” “a trainwreck,” “a sewage spill,” and on and on it goes. Meanwhile, The Donald is “great,” “rich,” “smart,” and every other good thing that God created. And everybody loves him and are his friends, as in the Mexican People, NBC, and you name it. His slogan should be “Specifics — Bad; Generalities — Good.” It must be fun to be The Donald. Of course it helps that he has enough money to finance his own Presidential campaign — or should I say publicity campaign. Sucking up to campaign donors is incompatible with calling them names. So for July, President Trump was out of the gate fast and set to be the next President who would make this country great again.
Not even a month after his announcement, The Donald made it to first place in the polls, not unlike Herman Cain. Simultaneously, Senator John McCain of Arizona labeled Trump’s supporters in Arizona as “crazies.” That unleashed a scathing pronouncement by Trump that John McCain was not a war hero due to his five and a half years in the Hanoi Hilton. Seconds later he added that the Arizona Senator was a hero because he was captured and then The Donald declared that he didn’t like people who were captured because they were “losers,” albeit war heroes who really weren’t but were. You remember. This drew a negative response from other Republican candidates who had held their tongues earlier on the subject of Mexican criminals, drug dealers and rapists. The Donald backed up a step and then doubled down by calling McCain “terrible” on veteran affairs as he continued to ride atop the polls fifteen months out from the general election, while privately breathing a sigh for relief for his five Vietnam era draft deferments. He broke the silence by giving out Lindsey Graham’s private cell phone number after John McCain’s buddy called The Donald a “jackass” for dissing his friend, but that didn’t have any major effect on Trump’s popularity either. The good news is that every new day provides new opportunities for foil and fun. Just sit back and enjoy.
The next batch of fun came in August with the first televised debates. It went like this: The Donald refused to disclaim an independent run for President. He also declared war on debate moderator Megyn Kelly of Fox News. More of the same outrageous fun; details deleted only due to space limitations!
The rest remains to be seen, but it is worth noting that announced candidates of both parties are running for more than just President. Some are running for Vice President, some for book deals and TV shows and some for general relevance. A case in point is Mike Huckabee, who went from former Governor of Arkansas to national pundit on Fox News. For Mike, he won his 2008 campaign which makes this one possible. I suspect he is running for either President or Vice President. Once we get to within a year of the election, things will change again as people start ramping up their campaigns. Then it will be clearer what the end game really is. Right now, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Hillary Clinton are running for President. This list will grow while others will run out of money or willpower and will silently go away. That will take time. Meanwhile, The Donald has just what he wants — Relevance. Why quit when you have what you want?
To be continued…
While I am willing to predict that The Donald will not be President, that is as far as I am willing to go. Over the long haul, The Donald is the classic wildcard. He has too much ego and money to just go away. In fact, he is the stuff of third party runs which would destroy the Republicans in the general election. Whether he is a disaster or not, The Donald will be the last person to know, which creates a real potential problem for the GOP. While most political newcomers would be satisfied with a place on the ticket, Trump is not VP stuff. And he doesn’t need the money or the relevance since he already has both in abundance in his bank account and mind. This makes him a real potential problem for the serious Republican candidates. The good news is that we have more than a year to follow this hit soap opera as it develops plots and subplots. Who will he insult next? What surprises await? Will he ever go too far ala a political Cosby? Only time will tell. In the meantime, just sit back and have fun, unless of course you are a serious Republican candidate for President.
But no matter what happens, the scary part is that a President Trump would have the nuclear launch codes along with his super Trump comb to tame his locks. America could be one hotheaded remark away from nuclear war. Lindsey Graham and Rick Perry insults are one thing but a Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong Un personal attack could raise the stakes to Hiroshima & Nagasaki levels. To put it another way, a mushroom cloud is not only scary, but it is also HUGE! Probably won’t happen, but it might!
So, assuming that The Donald doesn’t win the GOP nomination, will he go away peacefully? My take is NO! Okay, so will he go away forsaking an independent run for the White House? Only time will tell. In the meantime, let me summarize The Donald’s campaign in his own words as I imagine them, to wit:
“Because I am terrific and great and by the way, I love the Peruvian People and they love me, but knowing that everybody but me is a loser and a disaster, I must say that I am the best and I am rich as hell which by the way makes me a triumph and a winner and I will continue to be HUGE!!!”
Indeed, President Trump, indeed!