Archive for April, 2011

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Fairfax trumps, newts wild

April 15, 2011

The Trump Organization "Show me someone without an ego, and I'll show you a loser." ÑDonald Trump "All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with meÑconsciously or unconsciously. That's to be expected." ÑThe Daily News, March 24, 2004 The thrice-married Donald has never been shy about being in front of the camera. At times, his nose for publicity outshines his business sense. Why does Trump make the list? ¥ That hair. ¥ The germaphobic Trump considers shaking hands a dirty, "barbaric" ritual. ¥ Lowered the height of the boxing ring for a 1988 title fight between Mike Tyson and Michael Spinks so those in the front rows wouldn't get stiff necks. ¥ Wrote Surviving at the Top just before his company plunged into bankruptcy. ¥ Engaged in a nasty, name-calling feud with Rosie O'Donnell in the media. Rosie had criticized Trump for presenting himself as a moral authority when he allowed the underage Miss USA, Tara Conner, to retain her crown after she was filmed drinking.

Nate Silver makes a good point:

[Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney] are playing it by the book, hiring staff and developing campaign infrastructures. They get more attention in the mainstream media than in the blogosphere. They are perceived as being electable and holding some reasonable appeal to independent voters.

Those five contenders for the Republican presidential ticket are what Silver calls the “Fairfax Five.” I’ve been to Fairfax, VA once. It’s a long Metro ride outside of D.C., the houses are enormous, the streets are hostile to pedestrians, and you generally don’t feel like you belong there if you’re not earning at least six figures courtesy of a government contract or political party connection. Silver’s Fairfax Five are well-connected insiders who know how to play the game.

Silver also mentions a handful of candidates whom he calls the “Factional Five.” That’s Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, and Donald Trump. They appeal to the base, but they don’t get a lot of respect from the mainstream media. They don’t get a lot of respect from me, either.

In previewing the Republican primary race, I haven’t been paying much attention to the Factional Five. Perhaps this is me exhibiting an elite-perspective blind spot, and I’ve been trying to prevent myself from falling into that trap. If any of these candidates do something properly worthy of discussion, I’d like to think I’ll discuss it, even if they might seem outside what I consider the political mainstream. However, I’m not going to get bogged down in the trivialities of candidates who are running to increase their influence or their notoriety rather than to genuinely secure the nomination. The prospect of a President Trump or President Palin is an alarming one, but it’s not something I see as very likely.

There’s an episode from season six of “The Simpsons” in which a young Homer sees Jack Kennedy on TV. Homer’s mother suggests to her husband that their son might grow up to be President. Grampa, however, scoffs at the idea. “You, President?” he sneers. “This is the greatest country in the world. We’ve got a whole system set up to prevent people like you from becoming President.”

I think Grampa Simpson had it right. As much as the American system is designed to give members of a party base the power to choose its nominees, there is so much vetting involved that if the party insiders in Fairfax genuinely don’t want someone to be a nominee, they won’t be.

Silver suggests looking at candidates like Mike Huckabee, who don’t belong to either the Fairfax or Factional Fives. Huckabee still seems a long shot at the nomination, but it’s folks like him that will win the nomination if it’s not one of the party favourites. Donald Trump is there to make Democrats nervous, make the far right excited, and to gin up interest in Donald Trump. He won’t get anywhere near political office though.

Now let’s hope I don’t have to eat those words.

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