#Never Drumpf University
Panic and despair permeate the air at the Republican National Committee headquarters and throughout enclaves of the Republican establishment and donor class. Donald Trump did well on Super Tuesday, winning most of the states. Trump and Cruz split states on Super Saturday. Marco Rubio, while still in the game, fell farther behind. Several winner-take-all state primaries are ahead. If Trump wins those, it’s game over. If Kasich wins his home state of Ohio and/or Rubio wins his home state of Florida, it’s game on and a contested convention. None of these scenarios works out well for the GOP.
If beating Trump in the primaries won’t work, there are always other approaches to derail his campaign. Three of the current tactics are the #NeverTrump campaign, scorn over his ancestral name Drumpf, and Trump University.
#NeverTrump is a hashtag campaign of those who will never vote for Donald Trump. Senators Marco Rubio and Ben Sasse have joined the hashtag brigade. So did Mitt Romney with his blistering speech last week calling Trump a “phony” and warning of the economic and national defense perils of a Trump presidency.
How ironic – if Mitt Romney had given speeches like this during his presidential campaign against Barack Obama in 2012, he might be running for re-election now, and Donald Trump would be filming another season of Celebrity Apprentice.
Yet at the last GOP debate in Detroit, moderator Chris Wallace asked each candidate if he would pledge unity with the eventual GOP nominee. And they all vowed to support the last man standing at the Cleveland convention. So much for #NeverTrump.
The other problem is that there is not a #NeverTrump candidate on the ballot. There may be agreement that the nominee cannot be Trump, but that’s as far as it goes. Where does the opposition vote go? Split among Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich, meaning Trump still wins. Or else a brokered convention, which has the potential to destroy the Republican Party. But hey, at least Amazon is capitalizing on the #NeverTrump movement by selling T-shirts.
The next big Trump derailment issue is his ancestral surname of Drumpf. This was actually the name of Trump’s German grandfather, who anglicized his name to Trump. Late-night comedian John Oliver told his audience of Trump’s original German name of Drumpf and thought this too would make a great Twitter campaign. Another hashtag was born – #makedonalddrumpfagain. The YouTube video of Oliver’s Trump rampage interestingly had more than 20 times the views of his actual show. But making fun of Trump’s family name is unlikely to derail his campaign.
I thought making fun of candidate names was off limits. Back in 2008, Senator “reach across the aisle” John McCain apologized for and repudiated a talk radio show host who used Barack Obama’s middle name, Hussein. Yet Hussein is his actual middle name, not a family name from generations ago. I wonder if Senator McCain will apologize for and repudiate John Oliver over his use of Drumpf and request that “we will have a respectful debate,” as he did in 2008?
Trump University is the third tactic to thwart The Donald’s quest for the nomination. This was an educational company started by entrepreneur Michael Sexton, not by Donald Trump, using the Trump name and brand. Starting with free seminars, there was an opportunity to pay for longer seminars or even year-long mentorships. Ratings from the Better Business Bureau varied, as did student reviews. Some learned and got their money’s worth; others did not. Fraud or “let the buyer beware”? Up to the courts now.
Such a concept is hardly unique to the Trump name. There is the Jack Nicklaus Academy of Golf, where attendees are unlikely to be taught by Jack himself. Depending on motivation and practice, some will improve their game, and others won’t. Some will view their golf instruction as money well spent and others not. Ditto Michael Jordan Flight School, a basketball camp. Michael may make a guest appearance, but others are doing the coaching. These programs, and many others, take advantage of the name and brand of the school’s namesake. Hardly earth-shattering.
If someone wants to sue schools for not delivering on promises, I have a better idea. Why not sue Ivy League universities, where a four-year degree can cost $250,000, and the result may be a job at Starbucks making soy lattes? Or law schools, where 20 percent of graduates, leaving school with a six-figure debt, are working jobs that do not even require a law license?
Ultimately, the Republican nomination will be decided by the voters based on which candidate provides the best ideas for the country and who has the best chance of beating presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton. The hashtag campaigns won’t work. Neither will names, whether referring to Ted by his birth name of Rafael Edward Cruz or Donald as Drumpf. Seems that for the establishment and for the left, desperate times call for foolish measures.
Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS is a Denver-based retina surgeon, radio personality, and writer. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.