Donald Trump has insulted a female TV news broadcaster, promised to build a wall along the Mexican border and have that country pay for it, and has railed against the family ownership of the Chicago Cubs and even the pope.
Welcome to reality TV, or what has become the Republican presidential race. When there were 16 candidates, the assumption was that the Donald would soon fade away because of his big mouth. Well, hardly. His strategy, if that’s what you want to call it, is to state his intentions on a controversial issue in which he knows little about. When he is either questioned or challenged, instead of trying to defend his beliefs, he just insults the person who brings it up.
Trump continues this barrage through a series of TV spots and tweets. His strategy appears to be working with a segment of this country that either feels disenfranchised because of a lack of work or they believe they are not being paid enough. Bloggers, social media types and even TV and print journalists continue to follow the rantings of Trump. This constant onslaught results in the insulted persons having to either explain themselves or respond.
The only problem with that is that Trump rarely responds to the issue at hand. And since this race up to this point resembles an episode of “Survivor” or one of the many battling housewives shows, we move on to another outrageous statement. Maybe the GOP race should invite Flavor Flav or Vanilla Ice. That would be good for ratings.
Make no mistake about it. The Republican debates have done quite well in the ratings. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio felt it was necessary to challenge Trump on almost every statement he made in the last slug match. The only problem with that is it made Rubio look foolish as arguments centered on the size of Trump’s hands and other parts of his body. The intense and seemingly humorless Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was actually fairly quiet during this debate. He probably thought it was best to let these two implode.
The only candidate that seemed to be a voice of reason was Ohio Gov. John Kasich. He did not engage in any inane arguments or insults. He just stuck to the issues.
But here is the problem. Kasich is a distant fourth among these candidates. His campaign hardly has a pulse. No one appears to be listening to him. Trump has sucked all the oxygen out of these debates.
I suppose a lot can happen in the next couple of months. Trump is in a solid position and accumulating a lot of delegates. Of course, he could always say something stupid. However, that does not seem to matter. His most recent gaffe is not to disavow himself from David Duke, a white supremacist who supports Trump. He grudgingly said two days later that he “disavows” those remarks.
I never felt Trump was stupid. He is arrogant, egotistical and confrontational, traits that can make a good politician. But he appears to be inpatient and not well read. His response to more complex issues always appears to be that I need to look at that or we are going to form committees. He does not seem to grasp issues like immigration and terrorism.
Yes, obviously it plays well to mobs when you say build walls and prevent Syrian refugees and Muslims in general from entering this country. This is not another business deal where you are building another hotel. Some of those problems he solves by throwing money around. But the presidency is more than having money and power. It entails making some tough decisions that are not always popular.
I will say this about Trump. He is confident and has a swagger. Those are traits he probably had for a long time but became more pronounced during his days on “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
That’s what sort of concerns me. During this age of so much reality TV, can people distinguish between real life and fantasy? Shows like “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” professes that someone is going to fall in love between takes. The real reality here is these individuals want to become stars and are willing to do anything to reach that goal.
So, this current version of Trump seems to follow that pattern. I think for the most part he is calculating and knows what he is doing. He continues to play his role as the bully that attracts many voters who like his “tell it like it is” stance.
But at this point, I’m not sure what Trump is trying to tell us. I think he realizes he is getting closer to the finish line and is eventually going to have to say something.
My opinion is that Donald Trump cares about Donald Trump. I suggest people start turning off reality TV and really listen to what this man is about.
Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.