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Trump – more than an entertainer?

October 19, 2015

At some point, it seems likely that the right-wing establishment, their politicians and their backers are going to have to take Donald Trump seriously.

Each of us has a sentient moment when we make up our minds on anything, whether it’s to have steak or salmon for dinner, or who to vote in as the next President.

How we do that is a very personal process. Some people plan their menus out a month in advance, others wait until they look at the menu to decide, and so it is in politics.

What really upsets the apple cart is when things don’t fall neatly into place in our brains. If salmon is out of season, do we simply accept that as fact and move on, or do we waste precious time trying to find that one place in town that has fresh salmon?

Watch any of these Sunday news shows, particularly on the conservative channels, and you can see that in action.

So it was with Chris Wallace’s panel critiquing his Fox News Sunday interview with Donald Trump yesterday.

Some of the panel was willing to accede that Trump may be somewhat more than a flash in the pan, even if he isn’t yet “the” candidate.

Others couldn’t get beyond their view of Trump as simply an entertainer.

A lot was made out of Trump’s comment  that he wanted to be “unpredictable” about whether he would or wouldn’t provoke a government shutdown to get spending cuts. One talking head said derisively that he wasn’t impressed with a candidate whose claim to fame was that he never knew what he was going to next.

That’s what he heard, and he’s entitled to his opinion. What others heard was “I’m going to wait to see what facts are in play when I have to make that decision.” A politician would have said “I’m keeping my options open based on the conditions at that moment.”

That’s the difference in Mr. Trump and a politician. The latter comment wouldn’t have been discussed for more than five seconds, if at all. By saying it the way that he did, Trump got at least another 5 MINUTES of unpaid airtime during the program. And of course, every other news outlet will pick up the comment and run with it.

At the price of a paid ad, that’s probably at least two million dollars worth of advertising. No wonder the guy has only spent a couple of million dollars to date on paid ads.

The “news” channels today are as much about entertainment as they are fact-based reporting. Maybe they’re just mad because Donald Trump is so much better at their game than they are.

Of somewhat more concern to some is that at least for public consumption, Mr. Trump often goes off on tangents unrelated to whatever issue is being asked about at the moment. While entertaining, it leaves the impression that he has trouble or is bored with focusing on the details of the task at hand. That may be unfair, since pre-taped interviews are subject to editing, but it is still an impression that bothers people.

No matter your opinion of the man, his candidacy has managed to engage a larger part of the Republican base and apparently over  a wider demographic, than the usually stodgy GOP has seen in a long time.

There will or should come a time when this whole who’s-going-to-be-the-next-president thing will get deadly serious.

At some point, one can hope that the Republican candidate will look his or her Democratic opponent right in the eye and ask “Why are you and your party so dead set on destroying America?”

But we aren’t there yet. Until then, maybe mixing in a bit of entertainment value isn’t a bad thing.

From → op-ed

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