Entries Tagged as 'Donald Trump'

Primary Field Falls Flat with GOP Voters

May 11th, 2011 at 11:35 am 43 Comments

A new Zogby poll makes two things very clear. First, ampoule Republicans are very unexcited about this field. Only one “candidate,” Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey (who maintains that he isn’t running), cracked the 15% mark. Second, GOP voters know more about who they won’t vote for than for whom they will. 50% of respondents say they would “never” vote for Donald Trump. 36% won’t vote for Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich. 34% have ruled out Mike Huckabee and 32% won’t be casting ballots for Ron Paul.

The poll does suggest that GOP voters seem virtually resigned to accepting a candidate they are not that excited about. While a mere 9% of respondents said that they would vote for Mitt Romney if the election were today, Romney is by far the presumed frontrunner. 31% of those polled said they thought Romney would win the nomination. Second place went to Tim Pawlenty, who won only 8%. This is where it gets interesting: While Romney’s the presumed frontrunner, 27% of GOP voters already say they “never” would vote for him. Tim Pawlenty has only lost 16%.

For now, the figures regarding which candidates voters who will “never” back are more significant. Ultimately, this field will get whittled down to two or three, leaving many voters having to choose the least bad option. The boring TPaw will have an opportunity to win more of those votes as they free up than Romney.

One other point: the relatively unknown Mitch Daniels (not surprisingly) would only win 4% of the vote. However, a somewhat staggering 14% of voters already say they would “never” support him. That’s a very large number of voters off the table given that Daniels remains an “inside baseball” Washington favorite and hasn’t really made a lot of noise nationally.

Follow Jeb on twitter: @JGolinkin

Can We Stop Questioning Obama’s Legitimacy Now?

David Frum May 2nd, 2011 at 12:07 pm 124 Comments

So much to say about the long-awaited visiting of justice upon Osama bin Laden.

But there’s one effect on US domestic politics that deserves a thought:

Here’s hoping that we have at last seen the end of this ugly insinuation that there is something less than fully American about the black president with the exotic name.

On Friday came the release of the long-form birth certificate that provided the final decisive refutation of the birther lie that President Obama was born elsewhere than the United States.

On Saturday at the White House Correspondents dinner, pills the most visible proponent of that lie, the blowhard TV tycoon Donald Trump, was publicly ridiculed in front of an audience of 3,000 people – without a voice to excuse or defend him.

And then late Sunday, the president told the nation of the successful execution of his order to shoot and kill Osama bin Laden.

The success of the bin Laden operation is a great moment for the United States – and not only for the United States.

But it is also a deservedly bad moment for some of the destructive forces in American public life: for those who have substituted for ordinary politics a sustained campaign to brand President Obama as an outsider, as un-American, as non-American.

Those of us who oppose this administration’s economic and foreign policies have had so many valid points to make.

Yet some have insisted on traveling beyond those valid points. They have called the president “post American.” A “Third world dictator.” An individual whose behavior could only be interpreted as “Kenyan post-colonial.”  A “thug in chief.” They have tried to present US politics not as a choice between liberal and conservative, but as a choice between American and non-American, between real Americans and between a dangerous dark-skinned intruder. They have sought to portray the President as a man who could not be trusted to lead the country because he owed no loyalty to the country – because he did not belong in the country.

After the events of the past 72 hours, those kinds of attacks should be finished now. It’s a cleaner world without bin Laden soiling it. And American politics will be cleaner for the expunging of the malicious fantasy of the president’s non-Americanness.

President Obama has performed the first job of an American president: he has used the power of the nation well to defeat the nation’s enemies and defend the nation’s people. After an interval for celebration of yesterday’s accomplishment, it will be back to politics as usual. But let’s hope that this time, the usual will have this difference: that the administration can be criticized as “liberal” without being libeled as “alien.”

Originally published at CNN.com.

Washington Gets the Last Laugh at Trump

David Frum May 1st, 2011 at 8:28 am 124 Comments

First the Washington Post seats Donald Trump in the middle of the vast ballroom in the Washington Hilton at the White House Correspondents dinner.

Then the President of the United States followed by the comedian for the night ridicule Trump to his face in every imaginable way, including his appearance.

The entire room explodes in laughter at his expense – all 3000 people – while the cameras are fixed on his scowling helpless face.

When the Washington village performs a ritual humiliation, this is what it looks like. On the other hand, Trump more than deserved every horrible second.

Still: a question for the morning after. The DC Republican elite has now signaled it doesn’t like Trump either. Do Fox and Limbaugh submit? Or fight?

Trump’s Next Reality Hit

April 29th, 2011 at 5:42 pm 68 Comments

Last week, I took a look at what happens when one well-off family allowed a camera crew to insinuate itself into their daily lives, back in May-December 1971 (for PBS’s 1973 landmark An American Family). Today, it seems as though the Presidency itself, or at least the campaign for it, has been reduced to all the pre-programmed unreality of a modern reality show.  Even before Trump, two of the leading list (Sarah Palin on her recent TLC show and Mike Huckabee’s weekend interview show on FoxNews) had a reality TV background.

Indeed, each of the leading challengers to President Obama might just as well have been “cast” for contestant slots on a reality show, like Donald Trump’s hit two-hour Celebrity Apprentice. There’s a JR Ewing or Gordon Gekko-style delicious villain (Newt Gingrich).  There’s a handsome, bland, Dudley Do-Right hero (Mitt Romney).  Then there’s the Type-A jock who knows how to read (Tim Pawlenty).  And of course, what would a reality show be without a couple of self-involved, Snooki or Omarosa-type divas, whose prickly and demanding personalities might make some viewers think of a word that rhymes with “itches” (Palin and Bachmann).  We even have an aw-shucks, slightly nerdy, religious guy-next-door to round things out (Huckabee).

All things considered, the question isn’t why would a media opportunist like Trump exploit this to create his own even higher-rated “spinoff” of his hit NBC reality series.  The question is why wouldn’t he?

Indeed, Celebrity Apprentice is one of if not often the highest-rated shows on NBC’s troubled prime-time schedule, which has been mired in fourth place for several years (all the more humiliating after a 20-year period of total dominance from the late 1980s through roughly Bush’s first term.)  And this isn’t the first tabloidey, high-profile controversy generator that the Peacock network has found itself involved in of late. (Remember Conan vs. Jay?) And few shows are more of an iconic shorthand for the era of outsourcing, downsizing, job loss, and economic meltdown than a program known most for telling teary-eyed victims “Ya FIRED!”, as others get off on the drama, and still others count their blessings that it’s on TV, not their real life.

Even I am not cynical enough to think that NBC-Universal or Comcast was directly “behind” Trump’s birther escapades. But the secret to Donald Trump’s considerable staying power and success is that he has always been an inveterate showman.  Like Charlie Sheen, Trump provided the network and its flagship show with a tsunami wave of publicity that money alone couldn’t buy (especially at today’s ad rates!)   Interestingly, much of the most negative publicity has come from within the network’s own wheelhouse, as liberal cable channel MSNBC’s relentless coverage of Trump and birtherism provided countless hours of subject matter for Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, and especially Lawrence O’Donnell.  For what it’s worth, I think that O’Donnell and Matthews really are and were as disgusted as they seemed to be on TV at birtherism in general and Trump’s high profile semi-legitimization of it.  But they also “spelled the show’s name right”, as they say in Hollywood.

“Mark my words,” O’Donnell recently dared, “when NBC announces its prime-time schedule on May 16th,” he thinks Celebrity Apprentice will still be on it, that Trump will return to his small-screen box and give up any illusions of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and all this silliness might well be over.  He’s half right.  Trump might very well go back to his hit show and leave the politics to the professional politicians.  But with the racialist overtones of birtherism, the decision to renew the next season of Apprentice could have implications far beyond the usual pass/fail of an otherwise successful series.  On the one hand, Apprentice’s ratings to date clearly merit a strong campaign for the show’s renewal.  On the other, both NBC (Keith Olbermann) and arch-rival Fox (Glenn Beck) have recently proven themselves quite willing to sack their leading lights once they become too embarrassing, too much of a liability.

Now that Trump himself is disingenuously trying to back away from the birther issue while simultaneously taking credit for “forcing” Obama to submit to his will, the question still remains of why this very intelligent, able businessman would choose to pull off such a high-wire stunt as this?   Did he think that it would just be a vehicle he could ride for more publicity, like his show?  And more importantly, bottom-line businessman that he is, did Trump just coldly decide that with Obama’s 95% share of African-Americans (and overwhelming support among Latinos), that “those people won’t vote for me anyway”, so he might as well tap into the most incendiary rage against that foreign-sounding “worst President in history”?  Racism by cost/benefit analysis, as it were?

If The Donald does decide to run (or if NBC makes the first move in canceling Trump, which would ironically “free him up” to run next year), the other big question is what they will do with their Sunday-night timeslot after football plays itself out.  Will they try to find another media-friendly ruling classer (Gates?  Soros?  Buffett?  Some spare Rockefeller or Kennedy lying around?) to take over Trump’s hiring and “You’re FIRED”-ing duties?

Or, might they bait-and-switch, and make a reality show about Trump’s already reality-show-like campaign for the Presidency?  There’s actually some precedent for that.  In 1988, Robert Altman made a brilliant mockumentary called Tanner ’88 (starring Michael Murphy), about a hopeful Democratic politician trying to capture the nomination to go against the first George Bush.  (Twenty years earlier, droopy-dog comedian Pat Paulsen “ran for President” on the stage of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.)

And, as offensive as I find a lot of Trump’s comments to be, I can’t help but thinking that THAT would be a reality show I would watch.

Trump’s D.C. Dinner Date

David Frum April 24th, 2011 at 11:38 am 96 Comments

I am not one of those who are shocked that the Washington Post would invite Donald Trump as its guest to the White House Correspondents Dinner. The WHCA is the night of the year when the working press honors the nation’s movie and television performers. Trump – who plays a businessman on TV and licenses his name as a form of real estate product endorsement – is nothing if not a performer.

On the contrary, I am actually impressed that the Washington Post, so often accused of liberal media bias, was able to choke down its liberalism long enough to invite Trump. Trump of course has gained a new dose of fame by accusing the nation’s first black president of benefiting from – if not actually participating in – a multi-decade campaign of forgery and fraud in order to qualify for welfare benefits. Narrow-minded liberals might take offense at that. But not the cosmopolitans at the Post! For them, Trump remains eminently Salonfähig. Well done.

Trump’s Number Crunchers Get to Work

David Frum April 22nd, 2011 at 6:49 pm 24 Comments

So Donald Trump is working with his accountants to prepare disclosure forms. This reminds me of a favorite joke.

A CEO is interviewing accountants for his company. Three applicants sit in the waiting room to be interviewed.

The first applicant enters the magnificent office, very nervous. The CEO motions the accountant to take a seat. “I’m a simple man,” says the CEO, “and I have only one simple question for you. What is two plus two?”

The accountant cheers up. This is going to be easier than he dared hope. “Four!” he answers brightly.

The CEO shouts: “Next!”

The second accountant enters, takes a seat. The CEO asks again: “What is two plus two?” This accountant thinks for a moment. “Do you want the answer in binary format or base 10?”

The CEO nods, impressed. “You’re smart. Congratulations. Next!”

The third accountant enters, takes a seat. Once more the same question: “What is two plus two?” This accountant does not hesitate. “What would you like it to be?”

As the Donald would have said: “You’re hired.”

How to Beat Trump

David Frum April 20th, 2011 at 9:05 am 86 Comments

This post by Ed Kilgore about Donald Trump seems to me very astute.

The Republican establishment has perceived [Trump] as a threat and launched an all-out effort to tar him. But the truth is that their effort may be a lost cause, for reasons that are intrinsic to the success of Trump’s consumer-focused approach: This year, GOP voters’ hunger for radicalism is so great that it can be filled by essentially anybody. Kill off Trump’s candidacy and the demand will remain, leaving an opening for yet another demagogic charlatan to take his place. …

What [Trump's high poll numbers] show is not a desire to support the faux tycoon per se, but a raging right-wing, anti-establishment fever that has only gotten stronger in recent months. … There may be no coherent body of views you could call “Trumpism,” but even without Trump, there would be a hunger for spicier red meat than is being offered by the current crop of Republican candidates.

This screw-the-establishment sentiment must be understood in the context of what looks to be growing dissatisfaction with compromises made by Republicans in the Tea Party Congress and statehouses. …

This dynamic creates an enormous temptation for non-congressional Republicans to join the revolt, as evidenced by the rapid devolution of Tim Pawlenty into an extremist on budget issues and a favorite at Tea Party rallies. (He’s now opposed to raising the debt ceiling, even though that would damage the U.S. economy on a scale similar to a nuclear attack.) And if there is something that GOP voters want which Pawlenty is unwilling to give them because he decides it’s too crazy, then there will always be Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann, who are receiving rapturous receptions on the campaign trail, to flay him for his equivocation.

If Trump is pushed out of the limelight or off the campaign trail by the conservative establishment, or by his own erratic record on a host of issues, the atavistic longings of the rank-and-file conservative base will simply affix themselves elsewhere as other candidates try to tap the rich vein of anger he’s helped galvanize.

Here’s the thing Republican leaders and pundits need to understand. (I said it yesterday, but let’s say it again today.) America has not had a mass conversion to ideological libertarianism. Instead, Americans who feel robbed and duped by the series of financial and economic disappointments and disasters from the dot-com bubble onward are boiling with rage against their financial and political leadership. Conservative Americans express that rage in terms learned from talk radio and Fox News. But the fact that these conservative voters express their rage by talking about “debt” and “taxes” does not mean that they want what K Street wants: a Ryan budget that cuts spending on people like them to finance tax cuts for people much richer than them. They are just using familiar words to express a new and unfamiliar emotion of betrayal and resentment. The GOP establishment has successfully directed those emotions against the Obama administration. But there’s no guarantee that the emotions will remain fixed in that direction – because after all, the establishment GOP is offering little or nothing to allay the discontents producing the anger. Conservatives like liberals have suffered unemployment, the loss of savings, the decline in housing values. Conservatives like liberals find themselves suddenly poorer for reasons they do not understand. Conservatives like liberals fear and dread that Medicare and Social Security will soon be cut to rescue the country’s finances. If the GOP wants to finish Trump, GOP candidates had better learn to speak to those anxieties – to offer a remedy more effectual than the snake-oil now being peddled by Tim Pawlenty.

Debt Downgrade: Are Voters Paying Attention?

April 19th, 2011 at 6:40 am 8 Comments

The past day or so I experienced that odd feeling that I might be existing in parallel but separate universes, malady a situation wherein two (or more) realities are so strikingly at odds with one another that they cannot possibly exist in the same world at the same time.

Monday afternoon, mind driving home and listening to (horrors!) NPR, I heard that the Dow Jones index had dropped over 140 points during the day. The news was jarring, and the explanation alarming: It seems that Standard & Poor’s, the bond rating outfit, had indicated that it might downgrade U.S. government securities because the odds of Congress and the Administration agreeing to a long term, deficit-reduction plan are not looking particularly good right now.

Just a day earlier, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, speaking about the related issue of raising the debt ceiling, warned that political game playing would have dire consequences. As he put it bluntly to This Week’s host Christiane Amanpour on ABC, “…we know the risk [of failure to act] would be catastrophic.” S&P, by its announcement Monday, added a bold exclamation point to Mr. Geithner’s warning.

Now to the other universe: Once home Monday evening, I flipped on Hardball (on MSNBC) to watch my old friend and former colleague, Chris Mathews, and to get his take on the day’s political news. The first segment of the show was about Donald Trump’s  possible presidential candidacy.  Not surprisingly, a significant portion of the discussion was devoted to “The Donald’s” apparently new-found allegiance with the “Birthers”, and their wacky conspiracy theories about President Obama.

[By the way, if you have a need to get either really agitated or really depressed, think about watching and listening to Donald Trump every day for the next year or so. We’ll find ourselves longing for the good old days of Ron Paul, Mike Gravel Dennis Kucinich, and even Ross Perot!].

So here we have the two universes: One in which truly vital—even historic— issues are involved, a debate the outcome of which will affect all of us, and succeeding generations, in fundamental ways. In the other universe we have a carnival side show, a P.T. Barnum extravaganza that at some basic level makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. It’s just plain crazy—there is no other word for it.

But, and here’s the rub: Right now more people—voters— appear to be paying attention to Donald Trump and his outrageously stupid and irresponsible claims then are paying attention to the debate over the national debt. That’s even crazier.

For Trump, There’s No Bad Publicity

April 14th, 2011 at 11:24 am 44 Comments

Say what you will about Donald Trump, treatment but the man is nothing if not creative. Trump’s not the first uber-wealthy person with an outsized personality to run for President (see Perot, view Ross). The country hasn’t, no rx however, seen a candidate like Trump before. While Perot was content to spend his money running for President, Trump is becoming the first man in American history to actually run for President in order to make money. On Thursday, Trump told CNN that will announce his 2012 intentions on the season finale of his reality television show, Celebrity Apprentice.

No, that’s not a joke. Donald Trump is a marketing genius. Normally, television programs have to pay for their own advertising. Ever the businessman, Trump figured out a better way to boost his show’s ratings: by running for President. By injecting himself into the Presidential race, Trump has made sure that not a day goes by where the eyes and ears of the cable news audience doesn’t see or hear the name “Donald Trump.” His interviews boost his relevance. And his outrageous personality, obvious intelligence and charisma will lead scores of viewers to watch his outrageous reality television show on NBC (In fact, I’m giving the man more free advertising as we speak).

Follow Jeb on twitter: http://twitter.com/JGolinkin

A Great Week for the GOP

David Frum April 9th, 2011 at 6:34 pm 110 Comments

Is conservatism recovering its balance? Three positive signs in this past week.

1) The Republican caucus accepted a deal to avert a government shutdown. The deal is a huge victory for governance Republicanism over talk radio conservatism.

2) Glenn Beck’s show was canceled. There remains plenty of angry extremism on the airwaves: Limbaugh, Levin, and so on. But the collapse in Beck’s ratings represents a heartening repudiation of John Birch society conspiracy-mongering by rank-and-file conservatives – despite the shameful attempt by Fox News to mainstream this junk.

3) Donald Trump shouldered aside Newt Gingrich in Republican primary preferences. This may not sound like good news but bear with me: It used to be that the person offering the Obama-is-African-not-American message to the Republican primary electorate was a former speaker of the House, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a Fox News contributor: in other words, an eminent and respectable personage. Now Trump has stolen the Gingrich spotlight, knocked Gingrich out of the top 3. With the result that the bearer of the Obama-not-American message is a clownish TV personality in an absurd hairdo. That’s progress. Birtherism is being quarantined within the GOP. Better if it were repudiated and extinguished, but although this week was positive, it was not miraculous.