Like a lot of people last fall, I figured that the Donald Trump candidacy was nothing but a marketing ploy to buff up the power and prestige of the Trump brand.
Trump’s surge over the winter – intended or inadvertent – pushed that narrative to the back of the stove for a few months.
Over the course of the last week, Trump has made headlines and drawn attention by doing and saying things that are completely contrary to what anyone would consider sane.
Trump’s conversation with Chris Matthews on MSNBC …he told Matthews that women who seek abortion should be punished…women are the largest demographic in this country. There is no path to nomination without their support. Why would anyone alienate them?
…[later that week] Trump told the audience that the Geneva Conventions hinder our efforts…“The problem,” Trump said, “is we have the Geneva Conventions, all sorts of rules and regulations, so the soldiers are afraid to fight. We can’t waterboard, but they can chop off heads. I think we’ve got to make some changes.” …Trump also said he would not be opposed to using nuclear weapons in the Middle East or in Europe, during the above-mentioned interview with Chris Matthews.
It does seem odd that Trump – not being an idiot – said such idiotic things. I think it’s entirely plausible Trump wants to avoid Jesse Ventura’s fate, actually having to run a government.
Which is fine and dandy – but galling for those of us who have been fighting to advance the conservative brand and rehabilitate the GOP.
Last September, the GOP had one of the most stellar line-ups of candidates in history. Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and on and on and on.
But for six months, Trump sucked all the air out of the room, eating up any chance for an accomplished but regional figure like a Walker or a Jindal to break out of the pack.
And if Trump does eventually bow out, or lose at the convention, that will be his greatest disservice. Not that I don’t think Ted Cruz will be an excellent candidate – he will – but how much better a race would this have been had it been six months of grappling among serious and sincere candidates rather than the Vince McMahon stunt we’ve just spent six months watching?