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“How Do You Solve A Problem Like The Donald?”: The Republican Party Just Got A Giant Headache, With A Comb-Over On Top

For years now, Donald Trump has threatened to run for president. In the past it has been just a publicity stunt — he says he might run, he gets some attention, eventually he gives it up. And pretty much everyone, myself included, thought that’s what Trump was doing this time around, even as he scheduled an announcement today (the theory that made the most sense to me said that he would announce that he was creating the classiest, most high-end super PAC anywhere). But believe it or not, Donald Trump is actually running for president.

There’s no way to know how far this will go. Philip Bump recently took a look at Trump’s poll numbers, and he ranks somewhere between the U.S. Congress and foot fungus. (My favorite detail: Asked about why 58 percent of Republicans in Iowa said they’d never vote for him, Trump responded, “That’s because they don’t think I’m running. When they think I’m running, they go through the roof.”) But he has enough money to finance a campaign for as long as he likes, which essentially means until he gets bored. That could be quite some time.

Trump’s candidacy presents a problem for the news media. How do you report on someone like him? Is it even worth fact-checking the ridiculous statements he constantly makes, or should we not even bother? Given that he has zero chance of winning his party’s nomination, should reporters be assigned to cover him? Why does he deserve more attention than, say, Ben Carson?

The truth is that he’s going to be covered, and covered amply, because he brings entertainment value to the campaign. He is, without question, a unique American character. Most politicians have a heightened self-regard, but Trump is in a league by himself when it comes to delusional egotism, which is part of what makes him compelling to watch. It was apparent in the bizarre, stream-of-consciousness rant that passed for his announcement speech.

“Our country needs a truly great leader,” he said, speaking of himself. “I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created, I tell you.”

It’s Trump’s lack of self-awareness that makes him such a wonder to behold. The man who has brought vulgarity to new heights thinks he’s the epitome of class, and even if no sane person would sit through an hour of “the Apprentice,” it’s hard to look away when he starts talking.

But the ones with the real dilemma are the leaders of the Republican Party, which is why the Democratic Party is absolutely licking its chops at his entry. The DNC’s statement today said simply that Trump “adds some much-needed seriousness that has been previously lacking from the GOP field, and we look forward to hearing more about his ideas for the nation.”

Republicans have already been struggling to bring order to a race with as many as fifteen candidates, and while some people (I plead guilty) derisively refer to the primary contest as it existed before as a clown show, it now features one of the country’s foremost clowns. And according to the rules the RNC and the participating TV networks set to limit the upcoming debates to ten participants — a threshold of performance in recent polls — Trump would qualify to participate. And it’s likely to stay that way, since the bottom rungs are occupied by candidates who poll in the low single digits. Trump may not be the nominee, but he’ll probably be able to pull five or ten percent of Republican voters, putting him somewhere in the middle of the pack.

So at the debates, we may end up watching Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio try to get a word in while Trump goes on about his solid gold toilets, the models he’s dated, and his brilliant secret plan to defeat ISIS (maybe we’ll finally learn what it is!). That could make the real candidates look like sober leaders who can be trusted to take the country’s reins. Anything’s possible. But it may be more likely that Trump will make the party look more foolish than it already does. He may be a walking caricature, but is what he has to say about issues any less serious than what we’ve heard from the other candidates? Is Trump’s secret ISIS plan likely to be dumber than the idea that we just need to show “strength” and “resolve” and everything in the Middle East will turn out fine? Is what Trump has to say about the economy any less grounded in fact and experience than the other candidates’ belief that if we cut taxes for people like Donald Trump, the economy will get better for everyone?

The Republican Party just got a giant headache, with a comb-over on top.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, June16, 2015

June 17, 2015 - Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Republicans | , , , , , ,

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