The International Writers Magazine: Reality Check
Okay - Donald Trump
I have tried to ignore Donald Trump. But he will not go away. He is everywhere, interviewed by everyone, and invited to speak anywhere more than two people are gathered. Some part of this is showbiz, but most of it is politics.
Whether Trump's tiptoe through the minefield of the American political landscape becomes official or merely a prelude to another lengthy presidential campaign period is of little concern. It has attracted my attention and motivated words.
Normally, we don't do celebrity goofy here. I have never wasted an entire column on Glenn Beck or Al Franken or Chris Matthews or Sean Hannity. Okay, admittedly, I've cranked out lengthy diatribes on Ann Coulter and Michael Moore, defended Lindsay Lohan and reviewed Robert Downey drug binges, and the above names did occasionally appear to make a cultural point; however, to opine on the absurdity of legitimate discourse is enough of a waste of my time and more importantly yours. But hell, Donald Trump wins. He has chicken-winged me into commentary and for that alone he should be lauded.
Look, of course Trump is a joke; even he must know this. Nothing he has uttered appears to derive from any particular basis in fact or comes within shouting distance of a point, aside from the shameless expanding of his notoriety. His substantial and very public business failures over the past three decades are a matter of sad public record, and his personal life is just short of an abject embarrassment. His appearance is comical and his speech patterns are that of a jabbering moron on the F train.
Donald Trump has evolved into something even he fails to comprehend, a queer link in the chain of weird American characters that make up the lineage of the fringe presidential candidate. Trump is this century's marginal power vacuum figure, a strange amalgamation of past Great American Distractions. There is Leonard "Live Forever" Jones, who as a self-proclaimed "immortal" perpetually ran for president in the mid-19th century as the only member of the High Moral Party, but only after curiously declaring himself governor of Kentucky without receiving a single vote. Also, George Francis Train, whose late 19th century run for what he imagined would be the lofty post of Dictator of the Unites States garnered him the kind of press that inspired Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days. Then in 1965, Homer Tomlinson, who in a fit of pneumatic fever had founded the patently insane but short-lived Theocratic Party, declared himself King of the World.
And as Trump's forbearers would find, although populist chicanery may gain you much sought-after attention, no one remotely pertinent to the current political environment could seriously go on record to support this disjointed process. But yet, as was the case with former celebrities gone almost presidential like Charles Lindbergh or Douglas MacArthur, acceptance among peers may be a plus but is not paramount to relevance, as Trump holds a lead in most polls of potential or existing Republican candidates.
Sure, it's a weak early field, but Trump's standing here is not insignificant. He has everything needed to run for the highest office; money, name recognition, the attention of the national press, and an alternative stance. It's getting hard to argue against Trump having it over every Republican candidate on all counts.
Although his wealth is mostly wrapped up in questionable real estate concerns, of which he is only partial owner, Trump has shown a strong propensity to bamboozle banks to loan him millions on whimsy alone, something no career politician not named Barack Obama can approach. On name recognition, he has a television show on a major network, while Mike Huckabee hosts a late night thing on a basic cable news network in which Newt Gingrich is merely a "contributor".
And aside from performing admirably on the one aspect being a contender demands, incessantly demeaning the incumbent with outlandish and malicious hyperbole, Trump is the one Republican who can say without debate he has never raised taxes.
Before leaving Minnesota in a $6.2 million deficit hole, its former governor, Tim Pawlenty raised property and cigarette taxes, while corporate taxes rose 50 percent on his watch. While serving as governor of Massachusetts where he signed into law a more all-encompassing health care government initiative than the current national model, Mitt Romney raised fees on gun permits and marriage licenses, as well as closing corporate tax loop holes. Indiana's current governor, Mitch Daniels has already proposed raising taxes on individuals making a minimum of $100,000, while increasing the state sales tax.
Thus, Trump has gone from mildly amusing to dangerous loose cannon, precisely why rumors already abound. The first and most intriguing surrounds the idea that Trump is a Democratic invention, mucking up the new and improved "adult conversation" Republican model by acting like a Right Wing loon, not to mention ably filling the crazy/stupid vacuum left by waning Sarah Palin numbers. Another has the Republicans creating Trump as a placebo to the extremist or TEA Party hardliners, an old-fashioned decoy sideshow allowing the current Republican majority in the House to quietly vote to raise the debt ceiling and begin compromising on a reasoned 2011 budget with a Democratic-controlled Senate and White House. Trump also makes religious nuts like Huckabee and idiots like Michelle Bachmann appear as alternatively rational candidates.
Finally, there is the very real possibility the Republicans kick Trump off the bandwagon and he runs as an Independent. According to Public Policy Polling, as cited by conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan in the Daily Beast, Trump is likely to pull 31 percent of the Republican vote, which nationally should ring up anywhere from five to ten percent; less than what Ross Perot garnered to elect Bill Clinton twice or the minuscule but effective Ralph Nader chink in Al Gore's armor in 2000, but significant enough in a polarized electoral map to easily re-elect Obama.
But fear not, this will be the last we'll hear from Donald Trump, in this space, or anywhere in the realm of serious or con job politics. Soon, and much sooner than Trump would like, since most of his public life has been glossed over by a well-oiled publicity machine, the terrible truth about his disastrous business decisions, his mountain of defended lawsuits, the complete travesty he made of the once burgeoning United States Football League, which he single-handedly sank, and the entertaining details of two failed marriages will come to light.
Until then, Mr. Trump, I humbly surrender 1,088 words.
Make that 1,092.
© James Campion April 22nd 2011
Opening Act + Readers Responses
Staged Drama in the Final Minutes to Avoid Government Shutdown - James Campion
Boehner's gamble to include ridiculously frivolous ideological riders struck gold.