Here's a short list of people who will not be President come the first Wednesday of November 2012:
- Sarah Palin
- Mike Huckabee
- Michelle Bachmann
- Newt Gingrich
- Donald Trump
Say it with me: Donald Trump will not be President.
I don't know much, but as Oprah says "one thing I know for sure" is Donald Trump will not be President. I don't believe he actually wants to be President, but even if he did... he won't be President.
We could go chapter and verse about why this can't happen: his questionable business practices, the scandal of his involvement in Atlantic City casino gambling (believe me, he'd do anything to avoid yet another rehashing of the junk bond fiasco he created in the eighties), his habit of marrying statuesque, often Eastern European "models" (see illustration of him with third wife and fifth child?) ... the list is long, and the articles will, generally, write themselves. It's not hard. The short answer is Donald Trump is no politician, and he hasn't led anything like a politician's life. His potential "candidacy" is the kind of thing that attracts a certain kind of attention, especially in a section of the electorate that thinks, for some reason, that not being a politician makes you ideal for politics.
And it's the attention Donald Trump attracts that's the problem. It's just not a problem most liberal voters need ever worry about.
The problem with a potential Donald Trump candidacy - and the fact that it has enough cred to earn Trump a spot behind Mitt Romney in recent polling - is what his sleazy, PR driven, make a buck antics say about the state of the Republican Party. Like most of the rest of the list I made above, Trump is an unserious, unrealistic option for the GOP. And if anyone needs to rein in the nonsense and the noise of phantom candidates who can't possibly win, it's the Republican National Committee, which needs to get serious, or watch the 2012 election turn into even more of a joke whose punchline is a landslide reelection for Barack Obama.
I tried making the point, years ago, in relation to Sarah Palin, and time has pretty much proven me correct: Palin's political "celebrity" has pretty much played itself out, her irrelevance is growing daily, and the likelihood of her even running by this fall is pretty remote. Palin makes lavish speaking fees, tours like royalty, and can score easy money on book deals, TV appearances and endorsements. Palin's need for money (I'd bet that her exposure to great wealth, probably Cindy McCain's most prominently, put that drive in her, along with the attention of the last campaign) outstrips any interest she probably ever had in a serious national leadership role. If she were serious, and had any intention of working towards a longer term goal, she'd have chalenged Lisa Murkowski for a Senate seat she might easily have won, instantly giving her the cred for a Presidential run.
If anything, Trump's calculus is even more nakedly obvious: publicity around a potential run can only help Trump's business ventures, from that flailing reality series (the train wreck "Celebrity Apprentice") , to his condo sales, to the endless marketing of himself. It also keeps Trump prominent in interviews and appearances that serve to burnish his rep as a "serious business leader" which mostly buttresses his ability to sell luxury real estate and country club memberships to other business execs and strivers.
And don't get me wrong... I think Trump remains a brilliant, shameless self promoter who deserves just the kind of success he craves. It takes nerve to both put oneself so prominently into the public eye and at the same tine, care so little about negative feedback. And Trump's gilt edged, plush carpet idea of New Jersey elegant classiness has a clear, mass luxury appeal. Which is why, though he's not as wealthy as his press releases tend to imply (or as wealthy as a number of other prominent names), he has successfully branded himself, his name, and his family as a prime example of the American good life.
When you've got all that... why be President?
Trump is getting mileage, for now, off of his name recognition and his penchant for saying blunt, careless things that attract the gossip press, mostly. It's hard to see him ever taking the time to drive around Iowa, really talking to rural men and women who work the farms and small towns, whose caucus votes can't be bought with mass advertising. He's similarly ill equipped to trek around New Hampshire in the dead of winter, speaking to Rotary Clubs at third rate restaurants and banquet halls. This isn't his America, and he's got no interest in discovering it.
Republicans, however, have people who are, even now, doing that work - hell, even Michelle Bachmann seems to get that any serious approach to running demands the work of getting out in the grassroots and talking to real people. Yet her glib, gaffe prone style of speaking (The "Lexington and Concord" thing, alone, should wreck her future chances) renders her as strikingly unserious as Palin and Trump. Bachmann, I continue to maintain, is a useful idiot to GOP leaders solely because, for now, she takes up space in the public eye that Palin might otherwise command. As long as she remains a marginal distraction, long enough to keep Palin from even jumping in, Bachmann is useful. Once things get serious, she'll be pushed aside, and probably not even nicely.
Or so Republicans seem to quietly believe. I admit that, as confident as I am about the failures in the GOP field, the wild card here is that the GOP can't seem to get its base to focus on the serious possibiolities and ignore the fireworks and the noise of empty celebrities mostly interested in self promotion (and yes, that's Newt Gingrich, too). In part, the rela disaster here is how lame the "serious" contenders actually are: Mitt Roney, Tim Pawlenty, maybe Huckabee if he gets serious... none of these guys has much to offer, and mostly they seem like the sacrificial lamb that Republicans have already conceded have to get put up on the altar of Obama's likely reelection. Haley Barbour? Please. If the Republicans plan to have any sort of serious, seriously contentious attempt at winning in 2012, the first step would be nipping the crazy, unrealistic and largely inappropriate antics of the Trumps and Palins and other legends in their own minds. The second would be getting serious about potential serious contenders and the third would be developing an actual agenda for governing that counters Barack Obama's likely coronation. Republicans have none of this... and because of that, we get Donald Trump.
But seriously... trust me here: Donald Trump will never be President.