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“Is Trump’s ‘Campaign’ Just A Scheme To Launch Trump TV?”: Actions Inconsistent With Any Rational Plan To Be President

Donald Trump is the first major-party nominee whose basic motive is the subject of sincere curiosity. Every other figure who secured the nomination of one of the two main governing parties clearly did so as part of a plan to get elected president. It is possible that this is Trump’s plan, too. But it’s also possible that it’s not, which is one of the things that makes his candidacy, or perhaps his “candidacy,” so unusual.

It is increasingly clear that Trump’s actions are inconsistent with any rational plan to become president. He is unpopular on a scale that defies historical precedent, utterly loathed by overwhelming majorities. Some people believed Trump was merely playing the part of a right-wing provocateur in order to stand out from the field and win his party’s nomination, and would “pivot” to the center afterward, but these hopes have been dashed. Trump has only become more hated. Nor is he doing basic tasks required of a nominee. When he was asked to call two dozen major Republican donors, Politico reports, Trump called three of them and then packed it in.

It is entirely possible that Trump is simply in way over his head — he wants to be president but doesn’t know how to go about it, and he trusts his own instincts far too much. The alternate possibility is that he has a different motive. In this scenario, Trump is not completely incompetent, but is shrewdly, or at least rationally, following a plan to enrich or otherwise gratify himself. The trouble has always been discerning what such a plan could be.

Trump’s campaign has not helped his branding business. To the contrary, it seems to be doing enormous damage. He has lost clients already, and will probably continue to do so. If your last name is synonymous with racism and misogyny, you can’t sell your name to golf courses and restaurants, which have dropped him left and right. Being adored by 30 percent of the country and hated by the rest is a recipe unsuited either for winning nationwide office or selling consumer products.

What it could well be is a plan to launch an independent media organ. Sarah Ellison reports that Trump is exploring the possibility of a television or other media venture that would cater to his loyalists. “According to several people briefed on the discussions, the presumptive Republican nominee is examining the opportunity presented by the ‘audience’ currently supporting him,” she writes. “He has also discussed the possibility of launching a ‘mini-media conglomerate’ outside of his existing TV-production business, Trump Productions LLC.” According to Ellison, Trump chafes at the way media have been able to make money off his antics without him getting a cut — a piece of reporting that happens to comport with Trump’s frequent public boasts about the ratings he commands and the money others are making off him.

And if this is Trump’s plan, it makes sense. Perhaps he grasps a truth the official Republican Party has refused to acknowledge: The conservative base is a subculture. It is a numerically large subculture, but a subculture nonetheless. It rejects the moral values of the larger society and wallows within its own imaginary world, in which Barack Obama is a foreign-born agent of anti-American interests, global warming is a lie concocted by greedy scientists or perhaps the Chinese, and hordes of foreigners are rendering the United States unrecognizable. The greater the gulf between the reality perceived by Trump’s supporters and the reality experienced by the rest of the world, the worse for the Republican Party, but all the more profitable for the media that can cater to their delusions. Figures like Rupert Murdoch, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh have grown rich doing so. Trump may have figured out that there’s no reason he should work for them when he can cut out the middleman.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 16, 2016

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Reality Television | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Risk Of Looking Like A Loser”: Why Trump Will Never Make The Ballot

Making political predictions rarely turns out well, but here’s one: Donald Trump will not be a candidate for president in 2016.

What? Yes, I know, he’s already announced. In my view, though, he won’t take this all the way to the ballot in Iowa, New Hampshire, or any of the Republican caucus or primary elections.

Why? Because he’s Donald Trump and everything we know about him tells us he won’t do it.

Let’s step back from the Trump frenzy and consider the realities of a possible Trump run. First is the essential question: Will Donald Trump be the next president of the United States? No. Be it in the throes of a dot-com boom or tulip mania, there are always those who argue, “This time it’s different.” But it never is. All that we know about politics has not evaporated because Donald Trump says he’d like to be president.

What Donald Trump has done so far in 2015 is totally in character with the Trump who’s been in the public eye for decades. He’s a loud voice with strong opinions and loves to be in the middle of the action. But actually putting his name on a ballot would be a strange and quixotic move.

In the Trump lexicon, the greatest insult is to call someone a “loser.” Why would 69-year-old Donald Trump voluntarily transition from business success to political loser? In The Apprentice, Trump decides who is hired and who is, famously, “fired.” He loves that role and it defines his public image. But if he actually takes this quest to a ballot, it will be the voters of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada—all those primary states—who will be interviewing Donald Trump and deciding if he should be hired or fired.

If he doesn’t win, he was fired. He didn’t get the job. Why would he put himself in that position? Short of shaving his head and showing up for a debate dressed in Lululemon yoga pants, it’s difficult to imagine anything more out of character.

When Trump argues that his net worth is far greater than the $3 billion calculated by Forbes and others, he is placing billons of dollars of value on the Trump “brand.” He is obsessed with his image and his brand and that obsession has helped him grow businesses and make a ton of money. Now imagine the likelihood he will risk coming in behind Jeb Bush, a guy who, in Trump’s eyes, might as well be wearing a fake Rolex. Really? How about getting fewer votes than Mike Huckabee? Both of which are likely.

Adults rarely change, and no one changes over 65. Look at Hillary Clinton. She’s the same Hillary Clinton, only more so. And so is Donald Trump. He enjoys doing what he enjoys and God love him for it.

But what do we know about running for president? It’s the most unpleasant, demeaning, debilitating process in public life, a process that almost always ends in failure. Donald Trump is going to put himself through a year of this meat grinder?

Please. That’s absurd.

Some might argue that he can rewrite the rules and force the process to change. No. No one has and no one can. The process of electing a president is the same for all candidates. It’s like the NFL. You can come in a high draft pick or a free agent walk-on, but once the selection begins, no favors are granted.

To date, Donald Trump has benefited from not being taken seriously. The reality is that the majority of negative political stories originate in some form of research conducted by opposition forces: the famous “oppo dumps.” No one has bothered to do serious oppo research on Donald Trump, and for good reason. The Democrats hope he will win—God, do they ever—and no Republican candidates have had the interest or bandwidth to do the work.

But if Trump actually goes on the ballot, that will change. Then we will start to find out basic information that to date has not been part of the discussion.

Voters will learn how often Donald Trump votes, and whether he votes in Republican or Democratic primaries. Does he harbor wealth off shore? What possible legal issues and lawsuits has he been involved in over the course of his career? And that’s just the beginning. Will Trump be able to dismiss questions about his past as relevant to his performance as president? Hard to imagine from a man who questioned the validity of the president’s birth certificate.

Some Republicans seem to fear Trump’s threat to run as an independent. Don’t. He won’t do it. He’s a very smart businessman who knows the threat gives him more leverage. He has built his entire business career on maximizing leverage. Why in the world should he walk away from a powerful bit of leverage without getting anything in return? That’s not the Trump way. But he’s not self-destructive and would have zero desire to go down in political history as a spoiler.

We’ve seen this before. In April of 2011, he was leading the Republican field with 26 percent, about the same as he is getting now. He didn’t run but the polls proved he had a following and he wanted to play a prominent role in the process. Remember when, in 2011, he was named the moderator at a Newsmax-sponsored debate to be held two days after Christmas? It was sort of a nutty idea—more debates? Christmas?—but he was confident he could force candidates to the stage. It didn’t happen. Mitt Romney politely but firmly turned down the invite and eventually Trump withdrew as moderator. It fizzled.

A few days before the Nevada primary, he endorsed Romney and, as a prominent businessman in a local community, it probably helped, just as dozens of other like endorsements were positive. Some speculated that he had demanded a speaking slot at the convention in exchange for the endorsement. Nope, never happened, and he didn’t speak at the convention. Like many others, he helped raise money and did what he could to help the campaign. He didn’t get what he wanted but he handled it well.

Donald Trump is having a great time. He’s raising the profile of issues he cares about and contributing to a national discussion. I call that a good thing in a world in which far too many are apathetic and can’t be bothered to contribute.

It’s not entirely dissimilar to the role a very different sort of candidate named Bernie Sanders is making in the Democratic race. But Bernie has fought many losing public battles and believes there is honor in defeat. Donald Trump believes losing makes you a loser. And he will do anything to avoid that label.

For most candidates, it might make sense to ask, “How could he not move forward without losing face?” but the whole point is that Trump isn’t a normal candidate. He went through none of the usual steps of considering a candidacy—talking to donors, conferring with party leaders, etc.—he just got in because, well, he wanted to. And so it will be when he leaves. He’ll exit when polls still show he can win and forever he will be able to argue he could have won. And in doing so, he will have won by Trump rules.

I don’t think Donald Trump speaks for the Republican Party any more than Al Sharpton spoke for the Democratic Party when he ran for president in 2004. Nor do I agree with many of his opinions, and his tone—often, well, it offends me.

But this is a man who has done many good things. He contributes a ton to charity, pays a fortune in taxes, helps create thousands of jobs. When many were ready to give up on New York City in the bad old days, he stayed, invested, and was rewarded. All of that is admirable and important.

So my advice to the Republican Party would be not to worry about Donald Trump. This will work out and a year from now, the party will be defined much more by the nominee than these pre-season skirmishes. My bet is that Trump will be trying to help a nominee win and will play a positive role.

Of course I also thought Seattle would run. But we will see.

 

By: Stuart Stevens, The Daily Beast, August 20, 2015

August 21, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, GOP Primaries | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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