While President Obama rambles and measures every tiresome word, Donald Trump rumbles and lobs verbal grenades. It raises an interesting question: How can two men with such ample egos, both of whom crave the spotlight, be so vastly different? That may someday be a terrific case study. But first, there is terrorism to be fought and an election to be held.
This president has been a remarkably reluctant warrior in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism, the ideology that dare not speak its name in the Obama White House. His resolve seemed to decline precipitously on May 2, 2011, when Navy SEALs stormed that Pakistan compound and killed Osama bin Laden.
Mr. Obama, dancing (swimming?) on the terrorist’s watery grave, repeatedly boasted about the killing. But beyond bluster, the president relied on drone strikes abroad, denial at home. You know the litany – Al Qaeda on the run, ISIS not ready for prime time, no credible threat at home, and on and on. Meanwhile, the terrorists ran wild in Africa, Europe, and finally the USA.
President Obama announced the formation of a 65-nation coalition to fight ISIS, but that was a PR stunt. He ordered bombing runs, but with restrictions that rendered the offensive as inoffensive as possible. The administration spent untold millions training Syrian rebels, with the end result being ‘four or five’ battle-ready individuals. ‘Embarrassing’ doesn’t even begin to cover it.
So, after considering his options, President Obama came up with a familiar answer – fire up the teleprompter and talk. Last Sunday night, post-football, we got an earful of the same old stuff. The Oval Office address was panned by just about everybody outside of the president’s immediate family and staff. Josh Earnest himself, the White House apologist-in-chief, must have been cringing.
All this hollow rhetoric has created a gaping opening for a man like Donald Trump. He loves the spotlight every bit as much as the president, but there is a stark difference. Trump talks extemporaneously, shooting from the hip without worrying about the consequences of any ill-aimed words.
The most recent ruckus, of course, resulted from his suggestion that all foreign Muslims be banned from entering the USA. During an appearance in the No Spin Zone Wednesday night, Trump would not back down. He never does.
Reminded that his ban would alienate the very nations we need to help in the war against ISIS, Trump simply dismissed that notion. Even when he is circled by 1,000 critics blasting away with heavy artillery, Donald Trump believes he has them surrounded. It is a valuable trait, especially this year.
New polls released Thursday show that the Republican front-runner has received still another bump. He has been riding a winning formula – the more he alienates Democrats, establishment Republicans, the media, and pretty much everyone else except his die-hard supporters, he seems to gain a few more Trumpiacs. If this holds up, the tycoon could arrive at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland with a plurality of delegates in his bank account.
But what if the party elders and graybeards, horrified by Trump’s demeanor and policies, pull out all the stops and find a way to deny him the nomination? He has hinted, most recently Wednesday night on The Factor, that a third-party run is possible. Conventional wisdom says that Donald Trump would thus hand the presidency to Hillary Clinton, the woman he describes as ‘a joke’ and ‘the worst secretary of state in history.’
But keep a few things in mind about ‘conventional wisdom’ in this election cycle. Conventional wisdom told us that Trump was a passing fancy, an updated version of Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann. Conventional wisdom assured us that Trump’s attack on John McCain’s war record and Carly Fiorina’s appearance was his death knell. But that ominous bell has rung time and again and Trump is very much alive.
The bell is still ringing. Bill Kristol, a leading voice of the Republican establishment, is disparaging Trump as a ‘talented demagogue’ while extolling the virtues of Cruz, Rubio, and Christie. Kristol confidently predicts that Trump will be trampled in the cornfields of Iowa when voters come to their senses.
Haven’t we heard it all before? That kind of analysis may be conventional, but it is not necessarily wise. It’s less than two months before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. That interlude will be filled with bluster, predictions, pontifications, and endless bloviation. Some of the blather may even turn out to be accurate.
The overriding question is this: While the American people have had their fill of President Obama’s fecklessness, are they really ready for another man who seems to flirt with recklessness? We will answer that hypothetical with the most-overused cliché of all time – stay tuned, only time will tell! Okay, that was two clichés, but you get the point.