Donald Trump: Serious Contender or Joker?Donald Trump: Serious Contender or Joker?
Donald Trump’s flirtation with the idea of running for President is troubling, especially considering the fact that recent polls show him tying, or in some cases leading, the rest of the GOP primary field. Trump’s campaign has so far largely centered on the issue of President Obama’s birth certificate, giving new publicity to the ‘birthers,’ that bizarre faction within the right wing who claim President Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore ineligible for his office. Trump’s approach here has drawn considerable criticism from the Republican political establishment who recognize the potential circus of a Trump candidacy, but it has also resonated considerably with the party’s grassroots.
First, the numbers speak. In a recent Public Policy Polling survey, Trump led all other GOP candidates by nine points. In another NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, he was behind only Mitt Romney. With his flamboyant hairstyle and endlessly grating self-promotion, Trump may be an easy figure to lampoon, but these poll numbers are no laughing matter. They’re enough to provoke real fear among the GOP’s power players, as evidenced by criticism from Karl Rove, George F. Will, Charles Krauthammer and Eric Cantor. The main gist of this criticism has been that Donald Trump is an unserious candidate who is only after attention, and who will only hurt the Republican cause for 2012 with his fixation on the birther issue. Some Republicans, like Ann Coulter, have even suggested the whole birther spectacle is a liberal plot to embarrass the national GOP.
What is most satisfyingly ironic about this is that Trump has capitalized on elements of the right wing that the mainstream GOP themselves sought to capitalize on during the midterm elections. Challenges to President Obama’s birthplace, religion and overall legitimacy have a lot of currency in the Tea Party, without whose energy Republicans could not have possibly captured the House. To see these same pundits and politicians now backtracking, perhaps realizing how damaging this birther rhetoric can be to the party’s image among independents must be a very gleeful sight for their political opponents.
The possibility remains, however, that Trump may seriously run, and may actually land the GOP nomination. That would be good news for Obama, according to the Rasmussen Public Opinion Tracking Poll, but ultimately bad news for the country. Americans deserve serious choices for their democracy. Donald Trump is without a doubt a “joke candidate,” as Karl Rove called him. At no point in any interview during his recent media blitz has Trump offered a serious and thoughtful solution to even one of the country’s problems. For the most part, when he isn’t fixated on President Obama’s birth certificate, he’s proposing pig-headed ideas like “invading Libya to take the oil” or generalities like “getting tough on China.” On his opponent Mitt Romney, Trump insinuated he would be the better candidate because he had a higher net worth.
In many ways, a Trump White House would likely resemble the rule of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Neither of them are especially serious characters, and they both attempt to make up for their lack of expertise by flaunting their money and bravado. Just as Berlusconi has turned his country’s governance into the butt of countless jokes, so too would Trump turn America into a laughingstock, contrary to his proclamations about restoring our place in the world. How could a man who has declared bankruptcy several times throughout his business career be expected to drive our country on a path to fiscal responsibility? How could a man who embroils himself in petty feuds with the likes of Rosie O’Donnell and Bill Cosby be expected to handle international diplomacy? How could a man who inherited his father’s wealth be expected to know anything about, let alone seek to seriously address, the concerns of the common working American?
This is not to suggest many other figures in American politics are much better. If there’s one nice thing to say about Trump, it is that he is at least blunt and makes no apologies for his flaws. Compared to Mitt Romney’s slippery vacillations Trump may seem refreshing and even appealing. A Trump Presidency, much like a Schwarzenegger Governorship would doubtless be entertaining, but the fact remains. Trump is simply not Presidential material.