Presidential politics has rarely given us more laughs than this year. I thought I had seen it all when Pat Paulson, a professional comedian and satirist, ran his many faux campaigns for president. Paulson explained that his reason for running for president was the excellent pension plan he would receive upon retirement. His campaign slogan was, “Just a common, ordinary, simple savior of America’s destiny.”
Then along came candidate Herman Cain, the king of pizzas, who, four years ago, suggested that most problems in the world could somehow be remedied by reciting the numbers “9-9-9.” From an entertainment perspective (and, after all, we live in the entertainment capital of the world), these candidates all pale in comparison to the current frontrunner in the Republican quest for the presidential nomination.
Those who demand Donald Trump quit the race are doing a disservice to the rest of us who desperately need some hilarious entertainment in our otherwise boring, routine lives. Each night, I turn on my television and delight in the candidate’s most recent declaration of how he is the greatest warrior, really rich, the smartest negotiator, etc. It is truly remarkable how one individual can excel in so many areas, but that is what makes Trump unique — to say nothing of his unbridled recognition of his own “greatness.”
His simple solutions to complex problems are almost as appealing as his unlimited skills. He will build a wall and make Mexico pay for it; he will defeat ISIS and it will be fast and easy; he will out-negotiate the Chinese; he will create more jobs than anybody else in history. I can’t wait for him to do all this in just his first 100 days in office. Historians will toil for generations trying to explain how Trump accomplished so much so effortlessly where all other presidents failed miserably. We might as well start preparing for a new face on Mt. Rushmore.
His startling popularity is proof positive that modesty and humility are no longer virtues. What we have been teaching our children for generations is outdated in this new world where chest pounding like a gorilla is in vogue. Some commentator pointed out that had Trump eliminated the pronoun “I” in declaring his candidacy, his 45-minute talk would have been reduced to two minutes.
“The Donald,” or whatever he refers to himself as, actually reminds me of two fictional characters — both anchormen. The first is Ted Baxter, played by the late Ted Knight in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Baxter was pretty much a buffoon — puffed up with himself and way over his head. The other character is played by Will Ferrell in the movie “Anchorman: Legend of Ron Burgundy.” Burgandy spends most of the movie making a fool of himself. These characters were written by top comedy writers, but Trump’s persona is entirely self-created.
Born on third base, Trump actually thinks he hit a triple. He is the proverbial legend in his own mind. As he slowly descended the escalator before his presidential announcement with his silent trophy wife standing in front of him as a prop, the real estate magnate waved dismissively to the adoring crowd (many of whom were literally hired extras). You would have thought he was Napoleon, acknowledging his troops.
It is apparently not enough for him to talk incessantly about how superior he is. In his scorched-earth approach, he feels compelled to belittle all who dare question anything about him. He has turned name-calling into an art form. According to Trump, Governor Perry is so stupid, he needs to take an IQ test before being allowed to participate in the debates, and Senator Graham is an “idiot” who “actually probably seems to me not as bright as Rick Perry.” Then, he released the Senator’s cell phone number to the world.
Trump makes it clear: “I am no fan of Jeb Bush,” whom he calls “weak,” and blasted Governor Walker’s performance in Wisconsin. A smiling Trump pointed out that Wisconsin’s roads and school systems were crumbling. This former Democrat, then Independent, current Republican now threatens to run as an Independent. So much for a team player or consistency.
Few are spared Trump’s disparaging, condescending remarks. Even war heroes have come under attack. In blasting Senator John McCain, Trump somehow suggested McCain might not be a hero after all because McCain was captured. In what may go down as one of the most startling comments ever made by a presidential candidate, Trump actually said he prefers those who did not get captured — a truly amazing statement from a draft avoider who aspires to be our commander in chief.
Of course, his only qualifications to be president seem to be his fame and wealth. It doesn’t matter that he has filed bankruptcy more than once and left bondholders and investors in the dust, or that he was born with a platinum spoon in his mouth. He has more money than most people and somehow that supposedly entitles him to the highest office in the land. With wealth as the determining factor, we might as well appoint Bill Gates or Warren Buffett as president and be done with it.
Trump’s reported net worth is reputed to be inflated like everything else about him. When he filed his disclosure statement, he said in a news release that his wealth was over “TEN BILLION DOLLARS,” using capital letters. It was not immediately clear whether the document would corroborate that figure, but Bloomberg News reports his net worth is less than one third of what Trump declared. Who knows and more important, who should care? In a legal deposition, Trump once declared that his net worth could fluctuate with his feelings.
Trump’s campaign and popularity may go on for a while. (Remember, he still has people and groups to insult.) He hasn’t taken a shot at cancer survivors yet. The public will only be able to take his pomposity and mean spiritedness for so long, and then his presidential aspirations, just like his inflated fortune, will fluctuate — not with his feelings, but rather with the feelings of the American people who will have had enough. For those readers who don’t find anything funny about his candidacy, I can only reassure you the good nature of the American people will prevail. The overexposure, which helped him become a brand name, will ultimately destroy him. In the meantime, listen to the debates on Thursday, and let’s enjoy the show.