When I was writing this post a couple of weeks back, I had a section on how much I despised Donald trump. But, the post got too long so I cut it out. He’s one of those people that I heard speak a few sentences and decided I did not like. That was back in the 1980’s when he was peddling himself as a master negotiator. One of my friends read his book and thought it must be some sort of gag because Trump’s advice was ridiculous.
Trump has always struck me a gold-plated phony. His real estate deals seem to always involve someone going bankrupt. He reminds me of an uncle I had as a kid. Uncle Jack had the bluster and the vanity you see with Trump. Uncle Jack always settled for the very best, even when he was broke, which was all of the time. He ended up doing ten years in federal prison. To his credit, he did his time and kept his mouth shut.
That’s probably why I never cared for Trump. My uncle Jack was not an evil man. He was just one of those assholes you always regret having met if you hang around him long enough. There are guys you meet who are never on the level. They also have some angle so you can never turn your back on them. Because you can never let your guard down, they wear you out just being in the same room with them.
Anyway, Trump running for president was not exactly welcome news. Our elections are ridiculous when they try to play it straight. Having a guy who is a click away from being a carnival act in the race means it is going to a joke until he finally gets tired of it and quits. That was my first reaction when he announced. I just assumed this was going to be another publicity stunt that would last through the summer.
Then I heard him on the radio talking with Howie Carr. For those unfamiliar with Howie Carr, he is a local Boston talker who has been around forever. He’s a cynical old newspaper guy who does not take a lot of guff from anyone. He hounded the Bulger family as a reporter when Whitey Bulger was loose and killing people with the protection of the FBI, so he is not afraid to give guys like Trump the business.
If you listen to the interview, Trump is not quite as clownish as usual so he may be serious about running. He did not say anything that struck me as smart or clever, but he handled the questions in a more honest way that you typically hear from politicians. His answer to why he gave money to Democrats was actually pretty funny. Without saying it, he made clear that you have to bribe these guys to get them off your back.
The thing that kept coming to mind was that Trump actually sounds like a normal person compared to the average politician. I was somewhat blown away by the realization that a bullshitter like Trump is more authentic than the most down to earth politicians. Carr later made the point that Trump gave a speech he did not even bother to write down before giving it. Jeb Bush had a team of fifty that spend months writing his speech.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll never vote for Trump and I think I’d rather have Hillary Clinton in the White House than Trump. What I think he may do is force the rest of the field out from behind their force field of consultants. He’s quick on his feet and used to yelling at rich people so he will have no problem yelling at the collection of technocrats on stage with him. A guy like Trump looks at them as servants, not peers.
The other thing is he is going to talk about the taboo topics that are important to most Americans. Immigration, trade, the economy and corruption are at the top of the list for Americans, but the pols refuse to talk about them. It sounds like Trump sees that as his angle and is only talking about those issues. His ideas are not my ideas, but making the technocrats talk about these issues could be helpful.
Trump is going to be our Beppe Grillo. He’s not a serious candidate in the sense that anyone seriously wants him in office. He’s a serious candidate because he can talk about the serious issues without anything to lose. Trump is rich and his act is what it is. He’s got nothing to lose by running. Grillo has raised all sorts of hell in politics because he is barred from holding office in Italy so he has nothing to lose.
It’s not a perfect analogy. Beppe Grillo started a political party that is now challenging the main parties. Trump is not doing anything like that and he lacks the political savvy to be anything more than one guy raising hell. Still, a guy raising hell is a dangerous man if you’re one of the technocrats in the GOP field. While its sad that we have to rely on clowns to shake up the political elite, it’s something.