When the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination was asked by CNN for his response to the recently-announced accord with Iran, he didn’t mince words. “I would have made a deal not from desperation,” he said. “I would have doubled and tripled up the sanctions, and I would’ve made a much better deal.”
Four years ago, this same man hired investigators in Hawaii with the hope of debunking President Obama’s birth certificate and proving, once and for all, that Americans had been duped into electing a foreigner. Back then, he told Meredith Vieira of NBC that his investigators “cannot believe what they’re finding.”
Perhaps they couldn’t believe it because they weren’t finding anything.
Donald Trump is famous for many things, including the 1987 bestseller The Art of the Deal– a book about how you too can become, like him, a billionaire who has filed for bankruptcy four times simply by leveraging your multi-million dollar inheritance. Trump is bombastic, crass, and inflated enough by his fortune to ensure that we treat his apparent derangement as merely a quirk or an amusing eccentricity. For a long time, even during his ill-fated birth certificate investigation, it was hard to know if Trump was unhinged or in on the joke. During the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, President Obama and comedian Seth Meyers skewered the Donald.
“Donald Trump has been saying he will run for president as a Republican,” Meyers said, “which is surprising because I just assumed that he was running as a joke.” Trump later claimed he was “honored” by the roasting, though it certainly didn’t appear that way at the time.
Today, despite the fact that he appears to know almost nothing about the geopolitical and global stakes and implications of America’s years-long negotiation with Iran, this man is now perched at the top of the national polls for the next Republican presidential nominee. In an ever-expanding field, more Republicans support The Donald as their next Commander-in-Chief than anyone else.
And to a certain extent, this makes sense, not just because of Trump’s celebrity, but also because Trump’s blustering, arrogant, and dimwitted appeals to paranoia, xenophobia, and American hegemony resonate among voters who believe their culture and privileged status have been under constant attack in the Obama era.
The party of John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, and Tom Cotton should consider itself lucky. Trump embodies everything they’ve been championing: Extravagant wealth, reflexive opposition to anything and everything proposed by President Obama, a foreign policy that values war over peace and hostility over cooperation, the kind of guy who, to paraphrase Stephen Colbert, thinks with his gut, a one-man tribute to the rare success, achievable only in America, in which you never have to know or be responsible for anything you say or do because you can just let your money talk for you.
lamarw at gmail dot com
That, my friends, is true American exceptionalism: When you can become so secure in your privilege, you’re able to spend a small fortune chasing down a racist conspiracy theory about the country’s first black president, label Mexican immigrants as primarily drug dealers and rapists sent here at the behest of their government, dismiss a breakthrough negotiation with Iran by claiming you could have struck a better deal ensuring more suffering, and shortly thereafter, become the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.
Oh, and when you can refute the notion that you’re, in any way, a racist by referencing the thousands of hispanics someone else hired on your behalf and the 2012 season of Celebrity Apprentice, when you crowned Arsenio Hall as the winner. And when no one in the media would ever dare confront you because they’re too busy being wowed by your private plane and your gilded office building and, wow, how approachable and funny and personable you are, how you’re comfortable enough to drop a few f-bombs, because that makes people feel special.
Donald Trump’s popularity isn’t a fluke, and it isn’t simply attributable to his celebrity. Donald Trump is on top because Donald Trump is exactly the candidate Republicans deserve: A thrice-married billionaire bigot who opposes same-sex marriages on moral grounds. Republicans can get behind that.
,Recently, Jon Stewart joked that Donald Trump was running as America’s id. It was a funny clip. But the truth is Donald Trump isn’t the party’s ID. Donald is the Republican Party’s superego.
Congratulations, Mr. President,