Donald Trump. My eyes glaze over at the thought of him. The hair, the loud mouth, the craven need for the spotlight, the relentless pursuit of patronage, the opportunism. All about Donald Trump bores me, because I’ve been hearing it for decades.
Unfortunately, there’s no end to it, because he is useful, and he knows it.
My initial reaction when I first heard Trump was running was, “1992: loud-mouthed millionaire forms third party, Clinton wins.” Trump has denied that Bill Clinton talked him into running, and Trump may yet vow he won’t go third party (not that I put any value Trump’s word), but the comparison with Perot stands. Scott Johnson looks at its plausible causes (emphasis added):
Many Republicans like me have viewed the field of presidential candidates as remarkably strong, yet Trump’s ascent suggests a deficiency. It may be symptomatic of a weakness among the candidates, especially the politicians seeking the nomination.
Trump certainly reflects the anger of Republican and independent voters who lean Republican. We sense that these politicians can’t wait to sell us out. I refer to Jeb Bush above, but the case of Marco Rubio is also suggestive. He is a compromised character on the subject.
Trump taps into our anger on immigration, Iran, political correctness, and all the rest. He expresses repulsion to “weakness.” He promises strength.
Not that the media would give Trump the time of day, if he wasn’t useful:
1. Donald Trump is to the Republican presidential race what David Brooks is to the New York Times: Trump’s a liberal’s idea of a Republican candidate, while Brooks is the Grey Lady’s idea of a conservative columnist. Trump is the rich Republican Democrats want us to hate (as opposed to Billary, the people’s princes).
2. Every moment we hear about Trump is a moment we won’t hear about the disastrous Iran deal, Hillary being investigated by the FBI, the record-high 93 million Americans out of the workforce, and on and on. If we do, it’s all in terms of what Trump says about the questions, not on what the issues are and how the Democrats’s policies caused them.
3. Republican candidates trying to outdo The Donald will spend themselves under the table, and waste valuable air time talking about him rather than about the candidates’ own agendas.
4. Trump has nothing to lose. He craves this stuff.
The Republicans as a party, and the individual candidates themselves, must recognize, as Johnson did above, that there is “a current of anger on immigration, Iran, political correctness, and all the rest,” that the American public wants a policy of a strong America. The challenge to each candidate is to break through The Donald’s flim-flam and convince the public that he or she is the person who will deliver; and that he or she won’t sell us out. In short, a fighter.
We’re going to have to put up with Donald Trump for as long as he’s useful to the media. It’s going to be a long ride.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.