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Donald Trump For President Against Obama: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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donald trumpDonald Trump actually appears likely to launch a formal presidential campaign, hire staff, shake hands in Iowa, and participate in debates. If this happens, expect the 2012 Republican primary to be a wild shootout indeed. With that in mind, let’s examine the wildest gunslinger of them all: Donald Trump, by referencing the 1966 classic Western —The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The Good of a Trump Candidacy

His personal narrative is very appealing. He is the embodiment of success. His almost boyish enthusiasm for glory has propelled him to enormous accomplishments. He has literally changed the landscape of New York City, Chicago, Las Vegas and many places in between. He has survived a ruinous crash and come back stronger than ever.

Yet, despite his obnoxious displays of wealth, he is more at home with the immigrants and the lower-middle-class strivers, who share his straightforward belief in the American success story, than he is among members of the haute bourgeoisie, who are above it. Like many swashbuckler capitalists, he is essentially anti-elitist.

And his boisterous, swashbuckler ways are turning heads. People like the confidence and brazen attitude,’’ said Javier Manjarres, a conservative blogger in Fort Lauderdale who saw Trump at a tea party rally in Boca Raton Saturday. “They know he’s got a lot of issues, but most people are desperate for change. They’d rather compromise with him instead of someone who’s more PC like a Tim Pawlenty or Mitt Romney.

For a considerable segment of the Republican base, especially those who closely associate themselves with the conservative tea party movement, Trump’s pugnacious and outrageous attacks on Obama are a refreshing departure from most bland and cautious mainstream politicians. Trump wants to be the anti-Obama. Obama is too soft; Trump is tough. Obama knows nothing about business; Trump is God’s gift to American capitalism. Obama is painfully thoughtful in his affect; Trump is brash.

And here is the story that everyone is missing: Trump’s outspoken criticism of our appeasement of China’s economic wishes really resonates with broad swaths of American voters. He’s willing to slap a 40% tariff on Chinese goods to protect American manufacturing. No candidate in the Republican primary talks this way. Nor does our president. But voters are hungry for someone who says “enough!” to the outsourced jobs and debt we send to China.

For these reasons, Trump has defied conventional wisdom and surged ahead of the polls. Trump broke the perpetual gridlock at the top of the Republican field, getting 26% to 17% for Mike Huckabee, 15% for Romney, 11% for Newt Gingrich, 8% for Sarah Palin, 5% for Ron Paul, and 4% for Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty.

The Bad of a Trump Presidential Run

Trump is causing a stir by challenging the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate, which says the president was born in Hawaii in 1961. “Obama is unwilling or unable to show his birth certificate,” he said.

State officials in Hawaii have authenticated the birth document, and two local newspapers printed birth announcements within days of Obama’s birth.  Several prominent Republicans have criticized Trump’s focus on Obama's birth certificate as foolish and counter-productive.

For instance, Tea Party darling Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann told ABC’s Good Morning America that she is convinced that the president’s birth documents are genuine.

“Well then, that should settle it,” said Bachmann. “I take the president at his word.”

Furthermore, Karl Rove, who was the architect of Republican George W. Bush’s two presidential victories, called Trump a “joke candidate” for focusing on Obama’s birth certificate.

Indeed, Trump’s birther comments make some people question the legitimacy of his campaign. In a CBS News/New York Times poll, 72 percent of voters said they do not think Donald Trump is a serious candidate.  The survey also showed Republicans is split on a Trump candidacy.  Thirty-five percent viewed Trump favorably, 32 percent viewed him unfavorably and 33 percent were either undecided or did not know enough about him to form an opinion.

Republican analysts predict that if Trump does run, his business record and personal past will be carefully scrutinized by the news media and rival candidates, including his past statements in favor of abortion rights and some tax increases.

"I don’t think Donald Trump should be taken seriously, but he does," said Former Congressman Mickey Edwards. "And he has now changed his position on almost everything to move much farther to the right, because it doesn’t matter about the general [presidential] election. First you have to get through the Republican primaries."

The Ugly of a Trump Candidacy

Some feel a Trump campaign would be worse than bad…. It could be ugly. Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer says the real estate magnate and reality TV star is the "Al Sharpton of the Republican Party — provocateur and clown, unserious."

It’s all name recognition,” Krauthammer said. “And he’s is a celebrity, on television and a guy who talks about winners and losers. The vulgarity of it is offensive. He talked today about comparing himself with Mitt Romney. ‘I have a bigger net worth.’ That’s what you expect from, somebody who wants to promote himself in business and make a name. That is not what you want from a presidential candidate.”
                      
The circus-like atmosphere that would surround a Trump campaign would be so omnipresent, it would be suffocating.

And bad for America’s psyche says Psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow

The morphing of a presidential election into a blustery, “larger-than-life” entertainment event would be the most malignant symptom yet of the assault by media on our collective grasp on reality. It would fit neatly and ominously with the effect of Facebook turning millions of people into “profiles” with lots of fake friends and Twitter encouraging everyone to think they’re worthy of followers.

Good point, Doc. The American people already focus enough on self-promotion; we don’t need our President to do show us how to really become self-indulgent.

Conclusions

If Trump decides to run, he would need to expose his $2.7 billion financial empire (according to Forbes) to the public. He boasted to Time that his finances are huge, "Far bigger than anyone knows. Far bigger than anyone would understand."

That statement sounds more like a Charlie Sheen winning moment than the inspiring or more measured words of someone who wants to be taken seriously as the leader of the fragile, free world.

I have had enough of entertainers who want to be leaders.  Like the Obama of 2008, Trump is an arrogant celebrity with a talent for branding who knows much less than he thinks and vastly overestimates his ability to fix the country’s problems.

I have seen this show before. Give me humble. Give me boring. Give me wonky. Give me anything but another celebrity apprentice.

Contact Erik Uliasz at euliasz@philly2philly.com

Credits:

Cartoon: John Cole, Copyright 2011 Cagle Cartoons

Photo: AP

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