Taking Trump Seriously

Are you not eagerly anticipating Donald Trump’s announcement about whether he will run for president?  This is a serious question, despite all the mockery that is aimed at the real estate mogul.  Skepticism about his potential candidacy is understandable, but the tone towards Trump would likely change dramatically were he to announce his candidacy.   

As of right now, the media and political elites consider him a joke (or at least they pretend to).  On the other hand, you’ve got actual people, who show enormous enthusiasm for him everywhere he goes.  This enthusiasm manifests in spontaneous and prolonged standing ovations during his speeches.  The fact is that Donald Trump could be a game changer in presidential politics. He’s hired staff in Iowa and New Hampshire.  He’s serious.

Yes, there is the hyperbole for which Trump is known.  There is, however, no reason to assume that his admittedly gigantic self-confidence is misplaced or otherwise spurious.  What one man calls exaggeration, I may choose to regard as idealism, and an idealistic agenda can become reality.

Having a larger than life personality, people assume Trump is a caricature.  That is not the correct way to perceive him.  Instead, it is more advisable to take him at face value: he is what he says he is, and he intends to do what he says that he intends to do.

The criticisms leveled at Trump are either superficial (the hair, the mannerisms) or unwarranted.   Rebecca Berg claims that his rhetoric is “light on policy details.”  Firstly, the extent to which he has, or has not, elucidated detailed policies is appropriate for this point in the campaign.  He hasn’t even announced whether or not he is running (though he promises to make an announcement in June).  Secondly, the vision which he has described thus far seems more tangible and fresh than anything other Republican candidates have themselves expressed.   This is especially true vis-à-vis trade policy.  Compare that to Republicans who purport to offer new ideas, but who in fact are new faces with very familiar and worn ideas and slogans.

Very interestingly, Trump has offered a narrative explanation of just what happened in 2012 that is satisfying in its crispness:  Romney “choked.”  Perhaps without this explanation, a Republican voter might be inclined to attribute Romney’s loss to factors outside of himself, such as the regrettably changing demographics, or the biased media.  Rather, Trump asserts that it was Romney’s lack of activity in the final, crucial stages of the campaign that made the difference. 

If this is true, it offers both closure and a way forward.  This would mean that somehow Romney sabotaged himself for deeply inexplicable reasons.  This does not mean that he deserves scorn, but that he acted unwisely or lacked perseverance.  It also suggests that whatever fire in the belly Romney may have lacked, Trump must by implication possess, as the man making such a criticism. 

We should also take Trump at his word when he suggests that he was the crucial factor in deterring Mitt from getting in the race yet again in 2016, by declaring so bluntly that he choked in 2012.  For all Romney’s commendable qualities, one has to admit that Trump was correct and prescient to suggest that a third run would be imprudent.  And it also stands to reason that Trump would only make such a bold pronouncement if he, somewhere in his heart, desired to be the one to pick up the baton.

Trump has similarly eviscerated other Republican candidates who are unworthy of their hype.  He offered that Jeb Bush is “stumbling like he’s not even a smart person,” and that “he looks like he doesn’t want to be doing what he’s doing.” Trump also referenced Marco Rubio’s “stupid” and “foolish” answer on whether invading Iraq was a mistake.  Rubio’s response was unquestionably stupid, alleging that the Iraq invasion was not a mistake because it was a decision based on faulty information (which kind of seems like the definition of a mistake).  As Rubio tried to reconcile this non sequitur to Chris Wallace, one was reminded of a schoolboy prevaricating to the principal after being caught in the act. 

Finally, Trump has alluded to the fact that Carly Fiorina was fired ignominiously from Hewlett Packard and then failed spectacularly in a senate bid in California.  “Now she’s running.  I wish her luck,” he noted dryly.  Conservative media cheerleaders have gushingly praised Fiorina; Trump eviscerated her with a few words.  

Whatever the Donald decides to do, that will remain a sobering assessment of some of the major players in the Republican primary.  Taken together with his evaluation of the causes of Romney’s loss, along with his prophetic dooming of Romney’s third bid, it would seem that Trump finds himself in the ironic position of a billionaire speaking truth to power.  In fact, I suspect that it’s too much truth for the liking of some.

Malcolm Unwell is a lachrymose chronicler of America gone wrong. Contact him.

Are you not eagerly anticipating Donald Trump’s announcement about whether he will run for president?  This is a serious question, despite all the mockery that is aimed at the real estate mogul.  Skepticism about his potential candidacy is understandable, but the tone towards Trump would likely change dramatically were he to announce his candidacy.   

As of right now, the media and political elites consider him a joke (or at least they pretend to).  On the other hand, you’ve got actual people, who show enormous enthusiasm for him everywhere he goes.  This enthusiasm manifests in spontaneous and prolonged standing ovations during his speeches.  The fact is that Donald Trump could be a game changer in presidential politics. He’s hired staff in Iowa and New Hampshire.  He’s serious.

Yes, there is the hyperbole for which Trump is known.  There is, however, no reason to assume that his admittedly gigantic self-confidence is misplaced or otherwise spurious.  What one man calls exaggeration, I may choose to regard as idealism, and an idealistic agenda can become reality.

Having a larger than life personality, people assume Trump is a caricature.  That is not the correct way to perceive him.  Instead, it is more advisable to take him at face value: he is what he says he is, and he intends to do what he says that he intends to do.

The criticisms leveled at Trump are either superficial (the hair, the mannerisms) or unwarranted.   Rebecca Berg claims that his rhetoric is “light on policy details.”  Firstly, the extent to which he has, or has not, elucidated detailed policies is appropriate for this point in the campaign.  He hasn’t even announced whether or not he is running (though he promises to make an announcement in June).  Secondly, the vision which he has described thus far seems more tangible and fresh than anything other Republican candidates have themselves expressed.   This is especially true vis-à-vis trade policy.  Compare that to Republicans who purport to offer new ideas, but who in fact are new faces with very familiar and worn ideas and slogans.

Very interestingly, Trump has offered a narrative explanation of just what happened in 2012 that is satisfying in its crispness:  Romney “choked.”  Perhaps without this explanation, a Republican voter might be inclined to attribute Romney’s loss to factors outside of himself, such as the regrettably changing demographics, or the biased media.  Rather, Trump asserts that it was Romney’s lack of activity in the final, crucial stages of the campaign that made the difference. 

If this is true, it offers both closure and a way forward.  This would mean that somehow Romney sabotaged himself for deeply inexplicable reasons.  This does not mean that he deserves scorn, but that he acted unwisely or lacked perseverance.  It also suggests that whatever fire in the belly Romney may have lacked, Trump must by implication possess, as the man making such a criticism. 

We should also take Trump at his word when he suggests that he was the crucial factor in deterring Mitt from getting in the race yet again in 2016, by declaring so bluntly that he choked in 2012.  For all Romney’s commendable qualities, one has to admit that Trump was correct and prescient to suggest that a third run would be imprudent.  And it also stands to reason that Trump would only make such a bold pronouncement if he, somewhere in his heart, desired to be the one to pick up the baton.

Trump has similarly eviscerated other Republican candidates who are unworthy of their hype.  He offered that Jeb Bush is “stumbling like he’s not even a smart person,” and that “he looks like he doesn’t want to be doing what he’s doing.” Trump also referenced Marco Rubio’s “stupid” and “foolish” answer on whether invading Iraq was a mistake.  Rubio’s response was unquestionably stupid, alleging that the Iraq invasion was not a mistake because it was a decision based on faulty information (which kind of seems like the definition of a mistake).  As Rubio tried to reconcile this non sequitur to Chris Wallace, one was reminded of a schoolboy prevaricating to the principal after being caught in the act. 

Finally, Trump has alluded to the fact that Carly Fiorina was fired ignominiously from Hewlett Packard and then failed spectacularly in a senate bid in California.  “Now she’s running.  I wish her luck,” he noted dryly.  Conservative media cheerleaders have gushingly praised Fiorina; Trump eviscerated her with a few words.  

Whatever the Donald decides to do, that will remain a sobering assessment of some of the major players in the Republican primary.  Taken together with his evaluation of the causes of Romney’s loss, along with his prophetic dooming of Romney’s third bid, it would seem that Trump finds himself in the ironic position of a billionaire speaking truth to power.  In fact, I suspect that it’s too much truth for the liking of some.

Malcolm Unwell is a lachrymose chronicler of America gone wrong. Contact him.