America deserves Donald Trump.
Nearly a quarter of Republicans agree: They want him to be president. Twenty-four percent prefer Trump over actual politicians such as Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio.
Yes, that Post-ABC poll was mostly taken before Trump’s jaw-dropping slap at Sen. John McCain’s war record. But Tuesday, when those poll numbers came out, the general feeling was not that Trump had destroyed himself and this was the final gasp of might-have-been before the real estate developer slumps offstage in shame.The usual, one-awkward-shout-and-Howard-Dean-is-history dynamic doesn’t seem to apply to Trump, who refused to be embarrassed for slurring every American POW who ever lived, and instead busied himself slamming Lindsey Graham and giving out his cellphone number.
Times change. Gary Hart’s campaign was scuttled because of one weekend with Donna Rice; Donald Trump married Marla Maples and nobody even remembers.
So Republicans think we deserve Trump because he represents their angry rejection of all things Washington: politicians, policy, Barack Obama. Trump, remember, was denying Obama was born in this country long after even zealots let the fantasy drop.
Now Democrats, look into your hearts.
We believe this country deserves Donald Trump too, don’t we?
Haven’t we turned our political life into a theater of the absurd? Don’t we acknowledge that shiny surface appearance trumps — no pun intended — inner merit? Hasn’t money hijacked the electoral system, flowing easily around all feeble efforts to constrain it like a swollen river around a rock?
Sure, some Democrats will embrace Trump cynically, as the quickest way to drive the GOP into a ditch, leaving a clear stretch of dry highway for Hillary Clinton to cruise into the White House.
But we could also accept Trump as the punishment we know we deserve. For being lightweights, for never embracing what we believe with a fraction of the passion of the Fox News crowd.
Remember, Clinton has also been running for president for the past few weeks. She might as well be campaigning on Pluto, a smudge photographed by the New Horizons spacecraft as it raced by. Trump straddles the American stage like a colossus.
Maybe we’re getting used to him. We’ve seen him on TV, read his books. We buy his wealth=quality logic.
Trump doesn’t need position papers. He doesn’t need policy experts. He just has to be himself, pure ego, pure demagoguery. Maybe he’ll blow up, maybe he’ll call Taylor Swift a whore and the country will turn on him.
Or maybe he won’t. I keep thinking of Ronald Reagan, the guy we want to add to Mount Rushmore. The country forgets what a joke he was, at first, the Bedtime for Bonzo B-grade actor who paused from selling Borax to run the nuthouse of California and won GOP hearts by being more dynamic than Gerald Ford, which is not that hard to do.
Sure, Trump might implode. But how is the GOP going to settle down with staid old Jeb Bush after Trump? It can’t.
Insulting McCain will pass; McCain’s a stiff, the guy who lost to Barack Obama by 10 million votes. Not that we should hold the Trump inauguration quite yet. I’m of the opinion that Trump will self-destruct on live TV during the Aug. 6 debate. It will be his “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” moment with the whole country watching, aghast. But that might be my giddy, people-are-good-at-heart optimism.
Right now, Trump is a win-win-win for America. Either he flames out — win — and makes the country grateful for a Jeb Bush candidacy, something I would not have previously thought possible.
Or he takes the GOP field — win — and allows Hillary Clinton to waltz into the presidency in a cakewalk.
Or Trumps prevails and becomes president, terrifying the world with the awful, limitless possibility that is America, raising the specter of a country lost in shallowness and worship of wealth finally getting the leader we so richly deserve.