So, Donald Trump is hosting a republican primary debate. For those looking for humor from the campaign it is a god send, especially after Cain dropped out. Or, as Jon Stewart put it about the lose of Herman Cain from the race, “I host a comedy show and don’t like working hard. We belong together.”
Before the advent of 24-hour news coverage primary campaigns were small, targeted campaigns in key states. As each year since the internet and the never ending news cycle has passed the primaries have become more and more focused on, discussed, and disjointed. Politicans who have even the slightest hint of winning are vetted so thoroughly that there is really nothing they have left to hide after a primary. In a way that is good, it does allow the party to pick the person with the least skeletons in their closet. It does help them to know who they are choosing before issues come out in the general election. But it also creates a side show. Or perhaps it is better to call it a game show.
Which is where Donald Trump comes in. Although he says he will run if he doesn’t think the candidates at the debate he is moderating really live up to his expectations. That’d be like Alec Trebek saying “well, none of you seem as smart as me, so I’m going to declare myself the winner of Jeopardy. Forever.”
Of course, that would be a good thing, because in this case the prize isn’t cash, but an endorsment from Donald Trump. And, according to this article by Ari Melber, “a Trump endorsement would make twice as many Republicans less likely to vote for the Trump-anointed candidate” (his italics). He goes on to point out that among all registered voters, a Trump endorsement makes them five times less likely to vote for the candidate. That has it’s own sort of power, really. Trump could just endorse someone he doesn’t like and ruin their campaign. Too bad his ego is so inflated he would never be able to grasp the concept that most of America hates him. And his hair.
The list of candidates planning to attend the debate is starting to dwindle. Mitt Romney said no, Rick Perry backed out, and Huntsman and Paul don’t have any love for Trump. So on December 27th we might see a Republican primary debate, the last before voting begins, that could be just Newt v. Bachmann. The thought of which is somewhat amusing, but mostly pathetic.
Not everyone thinks this is a joke, the Tea Party Express in Iowa has said “Donald Trump has demonstrated his keen interest in restoring a responsible conservative to the White House, and his celebrity and commitment to conservative policies make him an ideal moderator for the debate.” I imagine the only way the debate could be better, in their minds, is if the Ghost of Ronald Reagan showed up and anointed one of the candidates as his successor at the end.
Politics has always been a dirty game filled with cheaters and liars. But it’s somehow gotten worse now. Perhaps because it is almost impossible to pay any attention to the news without someone talking about it, or writing an article about it like, you know, this one. In the past I thought of it as being more akin to a sporting event. Everyone is competing and everyone has their opinions of who is the best and at the end someone rises victorious. It isn’t a sport anymore, it is a game show. One that, while entertaining, is diminishing our ability to react to politics with anything more than instant emotional responses. The closer you pay attention to the politicans, the more sucked in you get, and you lose any ability to be objective. The partisan divide in this country has more to do with how much we like a person and less about what we actually know about that person. We’ve focused in too closely and all we can see are the personal dramas. The issues, the debates, the actual politics are just the framework for the drama unfolding on a national stage.
A person like Trump, who is more interested in his own personal agenda than on actually trying to get real answers out of anyone, is the last person we need to be in the middle of politics. He is a presence, a personality, and that is fine for shows about hiring someone to be his Jr. Executive but not for choosing a candidate for President.
As much fun as it is to speculate about Herman Cain and his mistress and his sexual harassment lawsuits, it is just a distraction from what other politicians are planning on doing if they are elected. And it takes the attention off of the fact that despite all of the allegations, Herman Cain really was a terrible candidate for president. I mean just awful.