If you’ve missed Stephen Colbert, or at least the pompous, angry, extremely ego-centric, completely ill-informed and over-the-top version of Stephen Colbert that the comedian played on “The Colbert Report,” I have wonderful news.
Donald Trump — yes the pompous, angry, extremely ego-centric, completely ill-informed and over-the-top Donald Trump — is running for president. And the real-life Donald is much more deliciously wacky than the fake Colbert. He is much more truthier. He is much more everything, as he himself will tell you.
Sure, Colbert could claim that “I’m the frosting on America’s cake, and I’m willing to let you lick the bowl.” But only the Donald could tell us, as he did in his announcement, that “I’m going to be the greatest jobs president that God ever created!”
Immigration? President Trump is going to “build a great wall on our southern border and have Mexico pay for that wall!” The ObamaCare websites? “I hire people, they do a website, it costs $3.”
China? Phhht. “I beat China all the time, all the time.” Apparently, the only time that the Donald was wrong was the time he thought he had made a mistake.
On a more serious note, Trump’s announcement represents a potential nightmare for the GOP, particularly if he polls high enough to be included in the debates. And if so, the party will have brought it on itself. It chose to feed the delusion that it now has to manage.
During the 2012 cycle, all the GOP candidates, including Mitt Romney, went to visit Trump and seek his blessing, treating him as a major party figure. Trump has also been invited repeatedly to speak to the annual CPAC convention in Washington, where such invites are a coveted sign of respect. The Republican parties in Iowa and New Hampshire have invited him to appear and to campaign, just like any other candidate. At no point has anyone in the party stood up to him and called him the fool that he is, at least politically.
And if he does well in a poll or two, if things start to roll his way — well, less egotistical people than the Donald have let it all go to their head, convincing themselves that they have a chance. Remember, because I bet Trump does: At one point in the 2012 cycle, Herman Cain was the leading GOP candidate.
Trump is dangerous because, like Cain, he takes those elements of the GOP message that are only hinted at and he makes them explicit. He is, for example, the perfect embodiment of the notion that wealth is a sign of being God’s chosen, as he himself will tell you. “I have total net worth of $8.73 billion,” he said Tuesday. “I’m not doing that to brag. I’m doing that to show that’s the kind of thinking our country needs.”
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” It’s the kind of stuff that Iowa Rep. Steve King could only dream of saying.
Now, maybe I’m wrong when I worry that such talk will resonate with at least some in the GOP base. So let me take the wiser course and defer to the judgment of someone who has much more well-honed sense of how that demographic will respond.
“This is gonna resonate with a lot of people, I guarantee you,” Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday. “(The media) are gonna relegate it to the carnival characteristics of the campaign and so forth, but it’s gonna resonate, just like Perot did. Do not misunderstand this. It is gonna resonate with a lot of (people).”