Thursday, October 22, 2015

GOP Clown Car Part 15: Donald Trump

  Now for the man who may not be the next president, but by far has had the most effect on the 2016 presidential process. Donald Trump has become the king of all media during the Summer and early Fall of 2015. If you looks across the ideological spectrum left to right there have been multiple stories about Trump and his effect on this presidential cycle. Hour upon hour on cable news, and hundreds, if not thousands, of stories in both the print and internet worlds. It's gone from there is no way he can win to "Oh My God" he might actually win the nomination. There are better people than me that have written excellent pieces on all manner of things Trumpian from the perspective of past, present, and future, form very serious to humorous, so I am just going to throw a couple thoughts out there. Then we can all settle back and see what happens over the next few months.

  I guess for me the most interesting aspect of the Trump phenomenon is the Trump versus Jeb! Bush story line. Donald Trump wants to be president, but has the attitude of if don't win, I am going to make sure I do everything I can to make sure that is not Jeb Bush on the ballot next November. Trump's attacks on the Bushes have been from the start of his campaign, and have been very pointed and brutal. Trump has not only knocked Jeb! out of his front runner position, but has played a major role in the perception problems Bush's campaign is currently facing. It remind's me a lot of the movie Caddyshack, where Ted Knight's incredibly square and uptight character, Judge Smails, is constantly hounded and tortured by Rodney Dangerfield's outrageously loud and vulgar character, Al Czervik. Judge Smails tries to ignore, insult, bully, and beat Al but always comes up short. Like Caddyshack, you have Jeb as the uptight country club type and Trump is very much like Dangerfield's nouveau riche "I have a shit ton of money and I am just going to keep buying all of this awesome stuff and showing it all off" character. Jeb has tried everything he can to make his 2016 campaign about anything other than Donald Trump, because ignoring him didn't work, and taking him on has been disastrous. The latest Trump versus Bush dust up is over is the amount of blame his brother George is due for 9/11, and it appears Jeb is losing this battle, as well. By the end of Caddyshack, Al drives Judge Smails a little crazy, and while Jeb hasn't gone crazy, his campaign is starting to sound desperate, as they are trying everything they can think of to change the narrative and show that Jeb is still a serious contender. 

  The other aspect of the Trump story I find interesting is his relationship with the Republican base, specifically his followers. Trump's followers are very loyal and passionate, and his level of support has the Republican establishment in a state of shock as reported by Byron York in the Washington Examiner. It reminds me of your teenage daughter dumping the guy you don't really care for, but then starts dating some obnoxious punk kid that you really hate. Trump is tailor made to fill that bad boy role, with a lot of big talk and showing off all his cool things, like planes, estates, golf courses, and casinos. Trumps biggest group of supporters is non-college whites. It is a group that is angry and passionate, and there is something about Trump has struck a nerve. Like young love, it is all emotion, and not logic, which probably why Trump's poll numbers have not been hurt by lack of policy papers or specifics. This kind of relationship is a tricky spot for the parents or in this case the Republican establishment. You clearly see this kid is completely full of shit, and has no idea what he is talking about half time, but the problem is your daughter sees none of the faults. You try to sit her down and calmly explain why it is not a good idea to date this guy, and that he is not really the person that she thinks he is. While the parents are looking are looking at this logically, she is looking at this emotionally and the two views will not sync up. This leads to trying to decide if you should let nature take it's course, hoping and praying she sees what a massive tool he is or do if you should push her to end the relationship now, knowing that if you push too hard that it makes her want him all the more. An article in Politico talks about Republican operatives dealing with the idea of Trump being the nominee, and how it has gone from no shot at this to he has a chance. After two cycles of picking the safer establishment guy and still losing, there seems to be a good portion of the Republican base willing to give the bad boy a chance.

  Trump has ridden this wave farther than anybody thought possible, and survived a lot of things that would have normally ended a lot of campaigns. While it certainly seems possible he could win the nomination, conventional wisdom has been wrong a lot so far, and he still at best has fifty fifty shot at being the nominee. Right now, the thinking is that at some point money and lack of support will cause more of the other contenders to drop out, and this will bring more attention to who is left. Once actual voting starts Trump will not do as well as he is now. I think it easier to tell a pollster you would vote for Trump, than actually going in the booth and hitting that button. Then the questions will become if Trump is not the nominee, how much damage will Trump's fiery rhetoric have done to the eventual nominee, and is it already to late to fix the damage?

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