-And these just scratch the surface
FEB 01, 2016 | By MATT LABASH
It’s that magical time in the presidential cycle again, when all the preelection year’s wild conjecture, clueless handicapping, and abject foolishness has ended, so that the election year’s wild conjecture, clueless handicapping, and abject foolishness can begin. It’s that time when panicked, demoralized citizens, who believe that our country is dying, compose themselves, do their civic duty, and choose the man or woman best suited to finish it off.
To all but the most obstinate poll-science deniers, that man could very easily be Donald J. Trump. In an impossibly large field, Trump has dominated for seven months. He hasn’t, in fact, placed second in a national GOP primary poll since early November, when Ben Carson briefly nipped Trump by one point. And in all but one national poll since mid-November, Trump has enjoyed double-digit leads — up to 27 points — over his next-closest competitor.
When it comes to Trump, there’s a lot of love going around. Arenas-full of swooning fans love Trump because he’s saved them from politically correct tedium, while appearing to be as angry as they are. The press loves him because he’s spared them from having to write about Jeb Bush, the low-energy former favorite who still seems to be screwing up his nerve to ask for his lunch money back. And Trump loves himself because, well, he’s never come up shy in that department. (“Part of the beauty of me is that I’m very rich.”) Originally assigned the role of court jester, Trump is now so fully committed to his own joke that he’s nearly ceased to be regarded as one.
As reporters breathlessly cover his every speech, tweet, and fart (often indistinguishable), Trump has correctly calculated that if he’s outrageous all-day-every-day, his abnormality becomes the new normal. It is no longer resented but expected. The man who was once accused by Vanity Fair of reading Hitler speeches in bed for propagandistic inspiration truly could title his own memoir — aside from the five or ten he’s already written — Triumph of the Will.
If you’re the sort of person who’s been conditioned to accept reality-show excess as entertainment, which is to say the sort of person who lives in America, then what’s not to love? There’s the supermodel wife and the gold-covered “Trump”-embossed Boeing 757. There’s the garishly decorated three-story Trump Tower penthouse that had a New Statesman writer, after a tour, calling Trump “a man whose front room proved that it really was possible to spend a million dollars in Woolworth’s.” There’s that hair that looks like a mac-‘n’-cheese-colored nutria that was hit by an oil truck. There’s the permanent pucker, which at rest makes Trump look like a puzzled duck working out long-division problems in its head.
And who doesn’t admire his fiscal conservatism? (“The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes.”) His impeccable manners? (To Larry King: “Do you mind if I sit back a little? Because your breath is very bad.”) His commitment to diversity? (“I have a great relationship with the blacks.”) Who couldn’t appreciate the executive know-how and tested mettle that come from telling La Toya Jackson “you’re fired” on Celebrity Apprentice?
And as if all that doesn’t qualify Trump to Make America Great Again®, he’s a man who knows his own mind, except when he changes it. (Trump has switched his party registration five times since 1987, once every 5.8 years.) He’s a man who tells it like it is, except when he’s lying. (“Sorry losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest and you all know it!”) He’s a man of rich contradictions. (“I’m actually very modest,” he once bragged.)
But to lovingly catalog all of Trump’s gaffes is a pointless exercise. Even calling them “gaffes” is a bit of a misnomer. Gaffes are what stop normal politicians. But a gaffe can’t actually be considered a gaffe if, say, you give a speech in the belly of the evangelical beast, Liberty University, and show your total ignorance of the Bible (an amazing holy book, right up there with The Art of the Deal) by calling Second Corinthians “Two Corinthians,” and yet you still sop up 42 percent of evangelical voters, as Trump did in a recent New York Times/CBS poll. Second-place Ted Cruz (or should I say “two place”) only managed 25 percent. Expecting a gaffe to stop Trump, at this late date, is like expecting a traffic cone to stop a runaway train.
It could all still go haywire for Trump, of course. Cruz, a man with a delivery so oleaginous that he sounds less like he should be running for president than hawking repossessed Chevy Vegas with odometer rollback, is neck-and-neck with Trump in Iowa. Not that winning Iowa necessarily matters: In only two of the last six GOP contests where a sitting president wasn’t running unopposed did Iowa’s winner go on to become the nominee.
continued extensively at The Weekly Standard
and ending with:
But what really impressed itself upon me, the edict that seems to be Trump’s guiding principle and, by extension, that of those who follow him, was: “Get even. When somebody screws you, screw ’em back, but a lot harder.”
I had to hand it to the guy, and have to even still. He sticks by his principles. Or principle. It may be the only one in his arsenal, but by God, he sticks to it. ♦
Matt Labash is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.