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Op-Ed

Duck, it's The Donald!

Sure, Donald Trump and his possible White House bid are at least entertaining, given the GOP alternatives so far. But, seriously?

April 19, 2011|Jonah Goldberg
  • Donald Trump speaks at a "tea party" rally in Boca Raton, Fla.
Donald Trump speaks at a "tea party" rally in Boca Raton, Fla. (John W. Adkisson, Getty…)

At this point, there's at least one thing you can't blame Donald Trump for: being Donald Trump.

Like the scorpion in Aesop's fables who must sting the frog because that's simply what scorpions do, the world renowned, self-promoting billionaire-clown must tout himself with passion and narcissistic self-regard.

It was only a matter of time, for instance, before he came out with his own fragrance: Donald Trump Cologne by Donald Trump Eau De Toilettes. (You can find it on Amazon.com. One customer review is from a woman who discovered the scent as it wafted up from the stock boy at Toys R Us.)

But that's not the smell that bothers me. It's the stench of desperation coming up from those rallying around a Trump presidential bid.

Not a day goes by when someone doesn't explain that Newt Gingrich can't win because he's damaged goods. And it's certainly true that the former speaker of the House has a lot of baggage — "enough to open a Louis Vuitton store" writes Ramesh Ponnuru in National Review. But surely "The Donald's" baggage would require an army of stevedores and sherpas.

And yet, the thrice-married lothario who says all women are gold diggers — at least when it comes to signing prenuptial agreements with him — is actually leading among Republican women, according to a CNN poll.

Forget Gingrich. Consider Mitt Romney. Nearly every conservative in Christendom not on Romney's payroll — and some who are! — insist that his "Romneycare" law in Massachusetts is a political albatross given its similarities to "Obamacare." Well, here's Trump in his book, "The America We Deserve": "We must have universal healthcare. Our objective [should be] … to find an equivalent of the single-payer plan that is affordable, well-administered, and provides freedom of choice." Trump is flip-flopping now, as he is on his past support for Democrats, raising taxes, etc. And changes of heart are fine. But forgive me if I don't equate the word "Trump" with "sincere."

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has been under fire for (foolishly) suggesting a "truce" on cultural issues with the left. Social conservatives rightly saw this as a call for unilateral disarmament. But somehow gambling and wrestling impresario Trump would make a reliable champion of social issues?

Check out his recent interview with CBN's David Brody. Discussing his religious beliefs, he volunteered: "I think the Bible is certainly, it is the book. It is the thing." That sounds more like a Larry King blurb than a declaration of faith. And can you just feel the passion when asked how often he attends church? "As much as I can. Always on Christmas. Always on Easter. Always when there's a major occasion. And during the Sundays."

Oh, well, "during the Sundays." Never mind then.

Haley Barbour can't win because he's too Southern and it's a bad look for a good old boy with a drawl to run against the first black president. Well, we're in luck. Because as Trump explained last week, "I've always had a great relationship with the blacks."

That may be true. But how will "the blacks" feel after the DNC starts distributing excerpts of "Trumped," an unofficial biography by a former employee who writes that his old boss hated having a black accountant because "laziness is a trait in blacks." "The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day."

Oh, and any fiscal conservative smitten by Trump's vaunted business acumen should at least keep in mind that the only reason he survived bankruptcy was that he was "too big too fail" for his bankers. Trump is a protectionist who made billions gaming some of the most corrupt and politicized real estate markets in the world (and, according to documents on Smokinggun.com, his philanthropic foundation is stingy beyond reckoning).

Still, I understand why the Republican electorate is so fickle. The GOP field is boring and cautious (though boring is an asset in a matchup against Barack Obama), while Trump is entertaining and seems fearless. It's fun to watch the media fall for Trump's act and the White House seethe over his "birther" crusade.

So have your fun. But remember the next election is a very serious thing, and with a Trump candidacy, the joke will be on us.

jgoldberg@latimescolumnists.com

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