Donald Trump’s grandiose announcement that he is entering the presidential race created some consternation within the Republican party and their supporters in the media, with concerns expressed that his buffoonish style will make the Republican primary race even more of a clown show than it already is. His announcement was typical, all spectacle and stream of consciousness nonsense.
Trumpalooza was unlike any regular candidate’s announcement. Reporters from Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight and gossip reporters from Page Six filled the Trump Tower basement.
There was no attempt at diversity in the crowd of supporters, or the warm-up acts before he took the stage: the event was all about Trump. The only intro act was Ivanka Trump, who introduced her father with glowing praise.
Unlike the kick-off acts of the more serious candidates, where regular Americans are placed in closest proximity to the candidate, and the press is shunted to the back of the room, Trump fans were kept upstairs while the area closest to the hotel developer was reserved for hundreds of reporters and television cameras — even a Russia Today affiliate was on hand to cover the spectacle.
A crowd filled up three floors of Trump Tower, leaning over the amber-colored, mirrored walls, waving signs that said: “Donald, We need YOU!!!”
“This is beyond anybody’s expectations,” Trump crowed from the podium. “There’s been no crowd like this. Some of the candidates they went in, they didn’t know the air conditioning didn’t work and they sweated like dogs. … They didn’t know the room was too big because there was nobody there. How are they going to beat ISIS?”
But already reports have emerged that some of the enthusiastic crowds that were present at his announcement were paid actors who were offered $50 for showing up. This is just a sample of the kinds of things we can expect from his campaign.
Charles P. Pierce argues that it was inevitable that the magical thinking that dominates our current political culture world end up with someone like Trump running for president, while Dana Milbank says that he “is the Frankenstein monster created by our campaign-finance system in which money trumps all.” Unlike former candidates like Michelle Bachmann who would also say outrageous things, Trump has the money and the national name recognition to get attention and cannot be easily sidelined. He will not go quietly and will do whatever it takes to be the center of attention and he has the media savvy to know how to do that.
NPR quotes veteran Republican strategist Ron Bonjean who says:
Donald Trump could have a very negative impact on the Republican primary because he brings a whole sideshow, vaudeville-style act to the stage.
The challenge here for Republicans is that we’re trying to reconnect with the American people and make sure that they take us seriously as an alternative to Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump takes away from that. He is not taken seriously. He’s viewed as a joke
Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer echoes this sense of dismay, saying “I can assure you one thing: the mainstream media who wished the Republicans no good will lavish upon him enormous coverage.”
There is a contrarian view that suggests that Trump’s entry into the race will actually help the other candidates because he is such a buffoon that the others, although they share many of his extreme views, will now appear more reasonable by contrast.
There is a chance that Trump’s announcement is just another publicity stunt on his part and that he is just teasing the media once again. According to Federal Elections Commission records, he has not formally filed any paperwork regarding is candidacy and he has another fifteen days to do so. So we will not know for sure that he is serious until the end of this month. But if he does formally files the paperwork to enter the race (making him the 13th to do so on the Republican side), he will not exit easily because his ego won’t allow him to be considered a loser.
The people over at The Daily Show were delighted to the point of orgasm at the rich source of comedy that they are now presented with for the next eighteen months, assuming that he stays in.
(This clip aired on June 16, 2015. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Nightly Show outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)