Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Donald.

The silly season must be upon us. Donald Trump is considering a run for President of the United States. Goodness me, it is going to be a long 20 months or so before we finally end this madness. It is going to be a Bataan Death March of over 560 days.  It all began with The Donald flying his freak-flag of birtherism. That is all it took for Trump’s  ambitions to go from delirious to serious. He is now the beloved anti-Obama of moderate Republicans. He is a  contender. How can this be? How can anyone take a man who wears a bleached, dead animal on top of his head be taken as anything other than a joke?

Trump is supposed to be this great titan of business. He made a small fortune in real estate. He did that by starting with a rather large fortune bequeathed by dear old dad. Turns out The Donald is not as good with numbers as he says he is. The four bankruptcies are proof positive of patchy success in the NYC dog-eat-dog real estate market.

Trump excellence lies in branding and marketing. His best customer is himself. No one can hype Donald Trump the way Donald Trump does. In this department, he is big, bold, brash. This is what makes him such great “reality” T.V. The Donald is perfect in this venue because he is totally faked, totally plastic. In a land that values form over substance, flash over reality, glibness over seriousness, in this land where the cult of personality rules all, Trump is aristocracy. Trump is triple “A” list. Not bad for a man who wears a rotting possum on his head.

Still, only in a nation totally besotted by celebrity could Donald Trump become the top polling Republican for President. Yes, he is bold, he is brash, but he is also profoundly ignorant. Now in any other political party in the modern industrial world being this clueless would be a deal breaker. Not so for the Republican Party of the United States. Not only is being ignorant a plus, being belligerently ignorant is a requirement in the primaries. The Donald has belligerent ignorance down to science. He is more than willing to talk about things he has no earthly idea about.

He is also more than willing to blow the racial dog-whistles that are part and parcel of Republican messaging. It really does not matter if he is doing this accidentally or as part of a plan. The birtherism and the quote about “not having a problem with the blacks” were so well played, so brilliantly bigoted, as to be the acme of Republican race baiting. Let’s be brutally honest here, Republican do not reach out for African-American votes, they look for a few dark-skin outliers to provide plausible deniability.

The Republican Party is the party of Dixie, of small-town rural white evangelicals. These people have learned to throttle back the bile, to talk in code, but they are still the heirs of Bull Conners and Lester Maddox. This is what they really are talking about when the go cuckoo for coca puffs over Obama’s supposed socialism; it is code for “ no way I’m supporting a Ni**er President.” If Barack was still Barry and the last name was spelled  O’ Bama and he was a rosy-cheeked, fair skinned scion of √Črin from Boston, no one in their right mind would be squawking to see that man’s birth certificate. But since Obama is a mixed-race man from the Aloha state, a small coterie of thumb-sucking fools wants to see his long-form. Among those fools is good old Possum hair, The Donald.

There are other places where The Donald falls apart on closer inspection. His ideas on oil diplomacy are too foolish to even repeat. Granted the Wingnut base of the Republican Party just loves this kind of red meat tossed at them. But then the Wingnut base is enamored of all sorts of really bad ideas. Trump’s foreign policy notions make W Bush look like a sage.

One of things going on here has to be that the other front runner, Romney, is not well loved by the base. Multiple choice Mitch, he of the magic underwear, is no more compelling to the base than oatmeal that has been parked in the back of the fridge for  a week, and served as is; no raisins, no sugar, no butter, just cold, lumpy and bland. The Donald, on  the other hand, is a NYC push-cart hotdog with the works; fun, tasty, messy, and with no nutritional value to speak of. Of course the Republican faithful are lining up at that push-cart.

The only take-away that can be really offered is that it is still too early to know if The Donald is serious or if his support is serious. Polls this early in the game are about as useful as an extra set of nipples on a eighty year old man. We are months and months away from the snows of Iowa and the beginning of the real nomination process. Any predictions being offered this soon would be like spitting into gale force winds.

So we might as well enjoy the clown-show for the mean time. As long as we really understand that this is a clown car performance the Donald is putting on. It is not like we have much choice; the beast of the twenty four hour news cycle must be feed. We do need our distractions. Still, maybe it would be a good idea to revisit why we now live in political reality where the campaigning never ends. It would be a good idea to revisit why we are now conflating all types of notoriety into the Hollywood celebrity gossip mode. When even public policy is all about marketing and spin, democracy can shift into something much darker. Democratic elections can become just one more form of bread and circuses. It can be just another way we are entertaining ourselves to death.
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