Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum: I Am Trump and They Are Dumb
The summer of primary madness is about to be replaced by the autumn of primal anger. On one side of the political divide, Her Heinous Hillary's coronation has been put on hold. On the other, Jeb Bush – the presumed front-runner once feared most by Democrats – has been smeared most by one of his own party, and now languishes in a disappointing third place in the GOP race.
We're told it's early in the game and anything can happen. I'd say it already has. We never expected anti-establishment sentiment on such a formidable scale. For years, pollsters have registered a mood of discontent regarding the direction in which America is headed. And while being exercised is good for the body politic, who will best channel it? And in whose favor will the scales be tipped?
Enter self-proclaimed Energizer Bunny and wheeler-dealer Donald Trump, the timeless, rhyme-less Muhammad Ali of the presidential boxing ring. He appears to be at the top of his game, if only we knew what his game is! Since he cannot resort to shouting "You're fired" at the rest of the Republican bench, he minimizes them through verbal abuse, recently badmouthing Carly Fiorina as an unattractive woman.
Trump continues to ride high while dealing low blows. Governor Bobby Jindal was another recent victim, though the two have never met and Jindal's candidacy represents no serious threat. But when shredding one's opposition causes no immediate consequences, why resist the urge?
Initially, I found Trump's outspokenness refreshing. He kicked aside the hypocrisy of political correctness and touched a nerve in America's psyche. He courageously tackled the third-rail issues. I even forgave him his outrageous celebrity, figuring it might take a larger-than-life presence to beat Hillary. I admired the way he waded into the crowds of well-wishers. I liked how he boldly proclaimed that he would make America great again.
But after a while, bold got old. It started with Trump's dismissing John McCain as a non-hero. Then he went after perky Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly. Being outlandish accorded him outsized press coverage. Now clearly the front-runner, he strides around like the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk, roaring, "Fee-fi-fo-fum, I am Trump and they are dumb."
Charles Krauthammer is no fan, so Trump declared him highly overrated. Ditto for Marco Rubio, who was dismissed as not being all that great and a traitor to his mentor, Jeb Bush. Trump went so far as to question Dr. Carson's surgical skills! Even when he describes someone as a "nice person," that can quickly become the kiss of death.
By all rights, I should by now have written off The Donald , except for some strange, intangible quality about him that nurtures in others the gift that keeps on forgiving. It's the way Joe Biden supporters shrug off his gaffes and grabs as nothing more than innocent misbehaving. Such guys are basically good, the rationalization goes; they just crave attention. It's always been Joe just being Joe. Is it now The Donald just being The Donald?
Despite his impressive showing in recent polls, Trump is by no means the inevitable Republican choice. At some point, his personal currency could plummet in value from refreshing candor to resentful incivility, the more so for having been squandered on savaging other Republicans.
And then there's Dr. Ben Carson. Recently I joined a crowd at the packed-to-the-rafters rally for him in the Anaheim Convention Center, just around the corner from Disneyland. In fact, the proceedings exuded some of the same welcomed innocence of the Magic Kingdom. No bombast. No bluster. No backbiting. I left the event feeling oddly at peace with the world, though the good doctor's view of its current condition was anything but cheery.
Dr. Carson is the healer to Trump's wheeler-dealer. Both exceptionally bright men are running to restore America's greatness. Each stirs the emotions in his own way. Together they are to be credited with quickening the interest of Americans in the political process.
The next Republican debate will likely draw as many millions of viewers as the last. And regardless of the personal feelings among those on stage, these debates could be a boon for Republicans in general. Eventually the numbers of wannabes will be whittled down. But right now I am proud of the healthy lineup of outstanding men (and woman) coming from different beginnings and ending up in a battle to represent the GOP in next year's crucial run for the White House.
By contrast, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of the DNC has decreed that the Democratic Party debates will be strictly limited to six. It's quite astounding, really, when a party consciously eschews the kind of free national coverage a debate makes possible. Her decision is driven by fear of overexposing the mediocrity and failed agenda of her party's Stone Age candidates.
They're all beatable. All that Republicans have to do is figure out how best to do it. If Trump turns out to be the party's pick, will we rise to the challenge, cleanse our political palates of any lingering bad taste, and try him again for the first time?