By D. Allan Kerr
For those fretting that the candidacy of Donald J. Trump will destroy the GOP, you can relax. Not only will Trump NOT win the Republican nomination, he has absolutely no desire to do so.
What’s more, he never did.
See, this is not a campaign for the White House; it’s a campaign for attention.
I’m actually surprised more folks haven’t caught on to this inelegant ruse. My lovely bride, who knows and cares absolutely nothing about politics, saw it right from the beginning. Seeing the Donald on the boobtube one day, she shook her head and said: “He reminds me of a little kid who doesn’t feel like he’s getting enough attention, so he’ll do whatever it takes to get it.”
And then she didn’t give him another thought.
Initially I filed the comment in the “no duh” category, but in the following weeks I was struck by what little effort Trump has made to conceal the fact that his is not a genuine candidacy.
Think about it – a few months ago, mainstream America didn’t care what Trump had to say. The few who actually paid attention were so accustomed to his bluster and buffoonery that no one took him seriously. No matter how outrageous his remarks, America wasn’t listening. He was reduced to the caricature he had created of himself (captured to brilliant perfection by SNL great Darrell Hammond.)
For someone whose figurative portrait defines the term “media whore,” this was intolerable.
So Trump made the admittedly clever decision of joining a rather bland platoon of politicians striving for the Republican nomination, knowing his act would be a welcome diversion for the media and a segment of the voting public. In the context of a presidential campaign, under the spotlight of a national political race, his words could no longer be ignored.
And thus we wound up with a so-called candidacy based on little more than the rhetoric of ego — a platform for Trump to say whatever idiotic thing pops into his head and then see it plastered in the headlines. He’s gotten just want he craved.
In return, mainstream America has had a rather entertaining summer. But Trump is more clown than statesman, and in the process this race has resembled a circus more than a key component of the democratic process. It hasn’t exactly aided the function of choosing a president — except perhaps by making his fellow candidates come across as Founding Fathers by comparison.
Trump clearly didn’t expect to emerge as the early frontrunner for the nomination, as evidenced by the fact that he never bothered to create a defined policy. “Probably sometime in September,” he said during a recent stop in Hampton.
So now he’s in panic mode, and in the weeks to come he will make ever more outrageous and outright stupid remarks in order to sabotage his own campaign — fully aware that if he wins the White House he would actually have to come up with a way to govern the country.
He has absolutely nothing to worry about. I’m guessing Trump’s arrogance is such that he’s convinced himself America really wants him to be president — whether he desires the job or not — and not merely the ultimate protest vote to “stick it” to the mainstream candidates voters may consider presumptuous. For a precedent, look to Pat Buchanan’s 1996 New Hampshire primary win.
How better to make a point with the GOP’s anointed prince — Jeb Bush — than expressing a preference for the royal fool?
If Trump does indeed escalate his rants, however, he might want to be careful in choosing his targets. For instance, I know for a fact that if he were to direct some of his past comments toward my wife, daughter or mother he’d be talking with a fat lip for a week. But maybe that’s just me.
And while some of his remarks might make humorous fodder for late-night comedians, the fun is tainted by the tinges of hate speech still echoed within the walls of the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C.
I also can’t help but feel badly for the band of true believers working to get Trump elected, unaware that he doesn’t share their commitment or even their goal. It’s a less-than-honest way of using people for one’s own self-celebration.
But in the very near future regular folks will grow bored of the latest Trump spectacle, as they inevitably do, and they’ll brush him aside again and get on with the serious task of selecting a President.
Then he’ll be able to cash in on his reinvigorated celebrity — endorsements, cameo appearances — and for a year or two he’ll be a little more relevant than he was before entering the race. And that was the true intent all along.
(August 23, 2015)