He’s brash, he’s materialistic, he’s got casino tastes, and he often changes his mind, which is a no-no for any politician. Just ask John Kerry who said, “I did vote for it after I voted against it.” But Americans love him anyway.
Donald Trump is decisive. He is bold. And he is honest, in an odd sort of way; that is, if he is going against you he will not lie about it. He is a bottom-line kind of guy and makes no lofty pretenses. All of which is to say Donald Trump is NO politician and therein lies the charm.
One day last week Trump was interviewed by Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and the results were a hoot. To appreciate the moment one has to know the context. Robertson, wanting to be with a winner, last endorsed Rudolph Giuliani back in 2008.
Giuliani, like Trump, was a New Yorker who led in early polling but everyone outside of the Boston-New York-Washington corridor, except Robertson, knew he would be eaten alive by the evangelical Christian lions in Iowa.
We all just watched the television pundits talk on and on for months about a Giuliani presidency, knowing that it would never be and wondering about the people who live in New York City.
Giuliani, like Trump, had been married multiple times. Dreading the Christian cross-examination of his personal life that comes with Iowa, Giuliani had the ballsy idea of skipping it altogether and going straight to New Hampshire, planning on the coup de grace in Florida. But while an Iowa win seldom guarantees the nomination, it is indeed a station of the cross that cannot be bypassed.
Trumps recent performance on CBN was comical. “I am a Christian,” Trump announced with all seriousness, “a Presbyterian. And I wouldn’t say I go every Sunday but I will say this. I NEVER, NEVER miss Easter and Christmas!” And he said it with such a flourish and such a sense of triumph you would have thought that he had just nailed down the born again vote once and for all.
One thing for sure, the Donald is in some desperate need of advice. One can see that he is a talker, not a listener. And contrary to the myth, no one ever gets elected president by talking. You can sell time shares and casinos and investors by talking. But you get elected by listening and listening very carefully.
Politics looks easy to outsiders. It is definitely not entertainment. Entertainers try to make us cry or laugh. A politician who does that is usually a big loser.
Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, Obama were all accused of being boring. Clinton was so boring when he addressed the 1988 Democratic National Convention people fell asleep on the floor and pundits warned his political career was over. Four years later he was president.
Politics looks “lucky” to outsiders. But it’s not. It is the art of offending the fewest voters. There is a reason they are all boring. Interesting people don’t stand a chance.
The problem with running for president is that it takes a little bit of time. It is kinda like building a new casino. Let’s say you have all the money in the world. You have the politicians, and the zoning boards, and the unions, and the mafia, and the newspapers. Everyone is onboard. You have all the permits. You have crews working 24/7.
At night, the whole work site is lit up, and the night crews are toiling away. Even so, and it must never be that perfect, it takes a little bit of time to build a casino. Some things just take time.
Well, running for president takes time too. That is why most people need to run for president multiple times before they win. There are some things, like constituency work, that can’t be done quickly. It takes time to build relationships. You can pay people to get you on the ballot. You cannot pay them to be loyal.
For the moment, Donald Trump is defying gravity. He is bigger than life. Evangelical Christians are so tired of being lied to that they may just vote for him because he is such an honest pagan. The black vote won’t be cast for any Republican. And the Jews have just experienced three years of betrayal. We like the way he talks about the Chinese. And about seizing the oil. Did he really say that?
But the day of reckoning is coming for Donald Trump. No one will ever be elected without us knowing a whole lot more. If he wins a couple of primaries we are going to get Trumped to death.
We will learn the names of everyone he has ever slept with and some he hasn’t. We will learn “the art of the deal,” and it will be nasty. Now some predict that it will not even get that far. But let’s hope it does. The show will be spectacular.