We grow up being told to dream: Anyone can be president.
No one says: “Anyone can be president as long as they are sane.”
In fact, some might argue that a person needs to be insane to run for president – or maybe insane and rich.
Which brings us to Donald Trump.
At this point, the biggest fools in the daily drama entitled What Will The Donald Say Next? are the folks at NBC. They canceled his Celebrity Apprentice reality show, proving that the network that once gave us “Must See TV” now knows nothing about entertainment.
Entertaining though he is, Trump has thrown a serious curve ball at the Republican Party. From his combative disdain for political opponents and the news media to his outlandish statements about everything from immigration to Fox News star Megyn Kelly’s blood flow, Trump’s bizarre approach to campaigning for the nation’s highest elective office has hit dead center on the anger and disenchantment burning within much of the country’s population. It remains to be seen how many of these irate folks will be willing to vote for him once the arena shifts from telephone polling to polling places.
Shocking though it may be to pundits and pollsters, Trump’s popularity seems to cross all lines: partisan, gender, ethnic, religious. His uninhibited iconoclasm is apparently irresistible in a country where anyone and anything identified with the political “establishment” is under fire from the disgruntled, disillusioned masses.
With Trump leading an unusually large gaggle of candidates in most recent polls, the Grand Old Party doesn’t know what to make of him and his 16 opponents for the Republican presidential nomination can’t figure out how to campaign against him. Some of the candidates are trying to ignore him while others, most recently Jeb Bush, are trying to fight back. The problem: Trump is harder to hit than Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Trump’s strong suit is actually not his irreverence, his anti-establishment attitude or even his relentlessly enthusiastic political incorrectness. His strength is that he has nothing to lose while most of his opponents are professional politicians who have focused their entire careers, their whole lives, on the goal of winning elections and, ultimately, seeking the presidency. They have everything to lose, and so he has knocked them off stride and frozen them with fear. They are running scared.
Unlike many surprise contenders in the early stages of a presidential race, Trump is not likely to flame out, fade away or self-destruct. If it becomes clear to him that he can’t win the Republican nomination, he has the option of mounting an independent or third-party campaign – in which case he would probably siphon off enough votes to let someone else win. The beneficiary of that gambit would almost certainly be the Democratic nominee, either the once certain-to-be-anointed Hillary Clinton or perhaps someone else. Does the phrase President Joe Biden have a certain ring to it?
Biden’s frequent verbal gaffes played alongside Trump’s outrageous behavior would turn the 2016 presidential campaign into real-life theater of the absurd. Even the accomplished satirists and impersonators of Saturday Night Live would find it hard to parody the tour de farce that a Biden-Trump faceoff would produce.
My own view is that Clinton is in serious trouble over the use of her personal email account to send and receive government documents when she was secretary of state. The Clintons, Hillary and her ex-president husband Bill, are known for just “toughing it out” when ensnared by controversy. But this is one problem that will not vanish just because they ignore it while advancing the Clintonian agenda of personal ambition.
So, everything is up in the air. The Republicans don’t know what to do about Trump and the Democrats no longer are assured of a Clinton candidacy – a candidacy that once seemed destined to make the former first lady the first woman to occupy the White House as president of the United States but now is hanging by a thread of deleted email messages.
The election is many months away and with the world upside down on many fronts – the global economy in disarray, Iran on the threshold of nuclear capability, Jerry Jones apologizing for insulting the grass in San Francisco’s football stadium – we have Trump to thank for an entertaining summer.
What we need to remember is that Trump’s candidacy, while just interesting and amusing at the moment, could become a serious and feasible pursuit of the presidency. Strange characters with goofy agendas do get elected to high office. Remember Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota? For a more current example, Google the peculiar antics of Maine Gov. Paul LePage.
It would have been impossible to imagine in the spring, but these summer days of Trumped-up laughter could quickly turn into years of tears and turmoil.
Richard Connor is chairman of the parent company of Fort Worth Business, DRC Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.