If by now you still don’t think we live in the United States of Entertainment, I have just two words to set you straight: Donald. Trump.
Yes, we’ve heard all the theories about why he’s constantly leading in the polls. He’s blunt. He doesn’t take any guff from anyone. He sticks it to the bad guys. His loyal followers are fed up with politics as usual. They’ve had enough. And here comes a guy who says he’ll make America great again. They love his message and they love him.
Fringe is definitely in this year. Bernie Sanders isn’t doing as well as he is for nothing. His policies would bankrupt America. But to progressives, at least he’s not Hillary.
As for Donald Trump, yes he’s interesting – in a reality TV show kind of way. But he’s not nearly as interesting as the people who are supporting him.
These are salt-of-the-earth Americans who keep telling us how much they honor and respect our military. Yet, when Trump cheap-shots John McCain, his poll numbers don’t drop – they go up. Never mind that McCain, who was shot down over North Vietnam, could have walked out of captivity and ended his torture but chose instead to stay and leave only when his fellow captives were also allowed to leave. Who cares about trivial stuff like that? If Donald thinks McCain isn’t a hero but a loser, then that’s good enough for Donald’s fans.
And even though conservatives like to think they’re the ones who cherish old-fashioned values while those dreaded liberals are constantly degrading the culture, what happens when Trump implies that Carly Fiorina is too ugly to be president? Do women and all decent people say, “We’ve had enough of this guy?” No, they flock to him and his poll numbers again go up.
They’re not even upset when he’s not man enough to say, “Sorry. I was wrong.” Instead he says he didn’t really mean her face when he said “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” Trump, who portrays himself as a tough guy, comes off as a weasel when he says, I meant her “persona.” Sure he did.
And conservatives who can’t stop telling us how much they revere the Constitution and demand a literal reading of the document, think Trump is brilliant when he says children born in this country are not U.S. citizens despite the fact that the Constitution says, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
And, of course, they detest Barack Obama who they believe has hypnotized dopey liberals and made them part of his cult of personality. But they love Donald Trump who has made them part of his cult of personality.
Bret Stephens had a column in the Wall Street Journal recently that began with this:
“If by now you don’t find Donald Trump appalling, you’re appalling.
“If you have reached physical maturity and still chuckle at Mr. Trump’s pubescent jokes about Rosie O’Donnell or Heidi Klum, you will never reach mental maturity. If you watched Mr. Trump mock fellow candidate Lindsey Graham ’s low poll numbers and didn’t cringe at the lack of class, you are incapable of class. If you think we need to build new airports in Queens the way they build them in Qatar, you should be sent to join the millions of forced laborers who do construction in the Persian Gulf. It would serve you right.”
We can understand why conservatives are fed up with those they see as weak in the knees Republicans, the kind who won’t go after President Obama and his liberal team in Congress head on. But is Donald Trump the answer? Do his supporters want a party led by a narcissist who sees opponents as stupid losers.
For a sizable portion of the GOP base, the answer is a loud and clear YES. And since nothing surprises me anymore, I’m even willing to believe that Trump can win his party’s nomination and maybe even be the next President of the United States.
But I also know that while fringe is in at the moment, it may not last. And let’s not confuse the GOP base with the American electorate in general. And one more thing: If Joe Biden jumps in and takes Elizabeth Warren with him as his running mate, the combined force of the sympathy vote along with the women’s vote may be enough to sink Donald Trump — or any other Republican candidate.
But it’s still September. And Iowa is a long way off.