Monday, July 20, 2015
The GOP's Donald Trump Problem
No, Donald Trump is not going to win the presidency. And despite his party's affinity with nativism and xenophobia, he's not going to win the Republican nomination either. But let's get one thing straight. He's no Michele Bachmann or Herman Cain. The reason for his ascendancy in the polls is as obvious as the nose on your face. Donald Trump is resonating with an awful lot of Republican voters in a way Bachmann or Cain could never do. He's preaching to the choir and, in the process, he's backed the entire GOP into one helluva corner.
I suspect not even his recent slap at John McCain will cost him all that much. Some bad press, a few of the more "courageous" Republicans rebuking him publicly. But in the end, Donald Trump's poll numbers will hold fairly steady. By the way, those "courageous" Republicans, it should be noted, said bupkis when he went off on Mexicans several weeks ago. So much for standing up.
All you need to know about the power Trump holds over the GOP is the phone call Reince Piebus had with him a couple of weeks ago. That was the phone call in which Priebus supposedly told Trump to "tone it down" a notch. Yeah right. I would've loved to have been listening in on that phone call. Here's how I think it went down.
Priebus: Hi, Donald, it's Reince.
Trump: Yes, Reince, what do you want?
Priebus: Well, Donald, I wanted to congratulate you on the energy you've brought to the presidential campaign. It's been very exciting, but I was just wondering if....
Trump: If, what?
Priebus: Well, do you think you could just, you know, tone it down just a bit?
Trump: What's the matter with my tone? You don't like what I'm saying?
Priebus: Oh, no, not at all. I totally agree with you. It's just that...
Trump: Just, what?
Priebus: Well, you might piss off some of the voters we may need next year. And Jeb Bush's wife is Hispanic, you know.
Trump: Fuck 'em, fuck him and fuck you. Stay out of my way. Screw with me and I'll run as an independent and you'll be looking at Hillary Clinton's fat ass in the White House for the next four years. Anything else, Reince?
Priebus: No, no, we're good. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me and...Hello? Hello? Donald? Donald? Are you still on the line? Shit!!!
Okay, you tell me that wasn't how the call went. Seriously, can you imagine anyone telling Donald Trump what to do, let alone the man charged with the responsibility of making sure his party wins the White House in 2016. I wouldn't want to trade places with Reince Priebus for all the money in the world. Hell, if I didn't despise the piece of shit so much, I might actually feel sorry for him.
Donald Trump isn't just a bull in the GOP's china shop; he's a goddam 9.0 earthquake. Face it, if you're a Republican strategist, you're shitting your pants right now. Trump can literally ride this wave as long as he wants. If he doesn't get the nomination - and he won't - he has the wherewithal to run as an independent all the way to election day. He's Ross Perot on steroids, or whatever it is Trump is on.
Think about it. Back in 1992, Perot managed to get 19 percent of the popular vote. Trump can easily top that by as much as 10 percent. And the lion's share of that vote will undoubtedly come from whoever the Republican nominee eventually is.
Don't think this is a big deal for the GOP? Guess again. You may think Donald Trump an ignorant, racist ass, and you'd be right. But he's no idiot. He knows he's not going to win the White House, but he also knows two other things: One, he has everyone's undivided attention; and two, he's calling all the shots. This is the ultimate reality TV show for him and there's no way in hell he's going to give it up.
Even if the GOP manages to get him kicked out of the debates, he'll just retaliate it and hold his own debate forum where he'll proceed to enlighten his viewers with his pearls of wisdom. I'll kick Putin's ass, I'll retaliate against China, I'll bomb Iran. Oh, wait, that was John McCain.
You see the real problem for the GOP isn't that Donald Trump's views are so out of step with the party; it's that they're completely in line with it. Pick an issue and Trump has echoed almost to a tee the party platform. Take away the rapist reference and Trump's comments about Mexicans are no worse than those of Steve King or Ted Cruz or any number of Republicans. Sadly, since George Bush managed to secure 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, the GOP has done everything possible to drive it away. Mitt Romney's "self-deportation" stance in 2012 was about as idiotic as they come.
The painful truth for Republicans is that every time Donald Trump opens up his mouth he opens up a can of worms for them. Every hate-filled syllable that emanates from his lips is yet another painful reminder that the GOP is hopelessly caught in a no-win scenario with Hispanics. No matter which way they turn, they're screwed.
Funny, I've never watched one of Donald Trump's TV shows before. I find such shows to be an insult to my intelligence. But you can bet your ass I'll be watching that first debate when the Donald takes center stage and gets the chance to tell the world what he would do if he were president. That should be quite the freak show.