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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Trump Card: Who Wins the Hand?

Pity those poor clowns in the GOP clown car who think they can be president of the United States.  They run around the country kissing the asses of fat cat donors. They suck up to their bigoted, misogynous, and homophobic gun-toting, Bible-thumping party base.  They raise tons of money through unfettered PACs and super PACS and super-duper PACs.  They attempt to speak to “ordinary” folks at the Iowa State Fair amid the stench of cow dung and the acrid aroma of fried foods encased in even more fried batter.  #hocopolitics

They go through all of this but why aren’t they gaining any traction?  Why are they mired in single digits like they are up to their necks in Iowa hog waste?
The answer my friends is blowing in the wind.  And that wind is Donald Trump.

Homophobe Mike Huckabee, who knows what to do with an Iowa Fair corn dog when he sees one, is flummoxed. Trump, according to the former governor of Arkansas, is receiving “10 times the media attention” so no wonder Trump is leading in the polls.  Huckabee claims if he enjoyed that amount of attention, he’d be winning.  Right.
It is true that Trump is ahead of this sorry pack based on the latest polling and by a wide margin.  Four years ago Herman “9-9-9” Cain was a Republican frontrunner as was Michelle Bachman at one time before they both flamed out as their idiocy caught up with them.  Will it be different in this cycle? 

“Teflon Donald” has been able to insult Mexicans, John McCain’s war service, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and women in general in short order with relative impunity; his polling numbers remain stout.  The GOP pack won’t stand up to him (other than tepid appeals for him to change his tone) lest the Donald reaches from his vast arsenal of insults and fires verbal slingshots at them, which is more than the Democrats are willing to do. 
The Dems are gleefully sitting on the sidelines enjoying the spectacle that is Donald Trump and hoping that Trump-mania will diminish (if that’s possible) the other GOP contenders and deflect attention away from their own flawed frontrunner.

It’s not the correct approach.  Rather than passively avoiding the fray and hoping upon hope that Trump stays in the race to injure the eventual nominee, Democratic strategists should have been seizing on this gift-wrapped opportunity and swing into attack mode—a tactic that’s not natural to them.
With every Trump gaffe, rather than condemning the self-centered showman, Dems need to put out releases that say, “Trump is only saying what the rest of the Republican hopefuls are thinking but don’t have the courage to say for themselves.”  This is not a stretch; few GOP candidates respond to Trump on the substance of his comments, only to the manner in which he states them.

It is a win-win strategy for Democrats.  Either the electorate will tie Trump and his bluster to the GOP field if the Dems keep taunting or his antics will force the other contenders to confront Trump and risk the verbal equivalent of a nuclear war.  On the other hand, his outrageous comments can make the other candidates seem less extreme and more adult by comparison, which is a risk for Democrats.
Of course, as long as Trump stays in the race he will cause trouble for the other candidates.  He has commanded most of the attention without question and attention is like catnip to a guy like Trump.  He’s already proven that he can say just about anything and get away with it.  Though his policy positions have been scant so far, they’re likely to mirror those of the rest of the field whose differences aren’t dramatic.  

Trump’s distinction is that he and only he can get the job done and “Make America Great Again.”  It’s about him as the savior, not his particular positions on issues that should matter.
One good thing about Trump is that he is not a demagogue on social issues like most of the other GOP hopefuls.  His pro-life position had evolved to meet the requirements of the GOP but he is unconvincing.  While he is for “traditional marriage,” he doesn’t offer anti-gay diatribes as most of his fellow contenders do.  One reason for his relative silence on the topic is that he cannot come up with a good answer to the question, how do your three marriages represent traditional marriage?

He also said on Meet the Press on August 16 that being gay should not be a reason to fire employees of private companies.  Only Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and George Pataki of the other Republican candidates share that view.
How long can or will Trump remain in the race is the billion dollar question.  As long as he’s riding high in the polls, he is not going anywhere.  A significant dip may cause him to pull out, but that doesn’t seem likely now.  Such decisions will have to wait for the primaries and caucuses to get underway in the winter.  That will be a better measuring stick than current polling.

He has threatened to run as an independent should he be treated as badly by the GOP.  That is unlikely because of the need to gather so many signatures in all 50 states and the added costs of doing so.
Right now, he is riding the wave of voter anger and people are backing him no matter how absurd his comments and unrealistic his positions are.  They like people who call our elected officials “stupid”  and will keep him rolling along, so he remains a nightmare for establishment Republicans.

The longer the disarray, the better it is for the Democrats.  The Trump card will help them win the hand…for now.

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