Not quite sure why Donald Trump is suddenly pushing all my buttons. I mean he's always been ridiculously full of himself. Maybe its the whole “birther” thing, culminating in Obama revealing his long-form birth certificate and Trump saying he had never been more proud of himself for making that happen. Or maybe its the fact that he has waltzed his way into the 2012 Presidential nominating process and is sucking oxygen out of a needed political dialog about America's path forward, particularly among the potential Republican candidates.
Just give me a ten second audience with the guy so I can convey my thought that he seems like the biggest asshole on the planet! He probably would take that as a compliment, or at least tell me so, because I don't sense that he gives a flying fuck. Okay, sorry!... I'm done swearing, but it felt good!
Muammar Gaddafi would probably be considered by some as a contender for that title, but Gaddafi seems to at least truly believe he is the messiah of the Arab world. I'm hard pressed to identify what if any convictions Trump has, deluded or otherwise. Please let me know if I'm missing something!
Many of us Americans seem to live vicariously through our celebrities (as Great Britain continues to do particularly today with their “Royals”). And the wealthiest among us, as exemplars of some realized version of the “American Dream”, have always received an over-sized amount of attention, adoration and love-to-hate disgust. I guess it also pushes my buttons that so many of us excuse rich people's behavior in ways that they would not for the rest of us, like achieving great wealth implies that you have some special moral or intellectual insight and the right to be consistently outrageous.
And I hear more and more thoughtful analysts of American culture lately identifying an important bit of conventional wisdom that goes something like this... Be careful in setting any expectations for the social responsibility or other constraints on rich folks, because you may win the lottery someday or otherwise find a deserved or undeserved path to wealth and be forced to live by those constraints. Apparently a significant part of the constituency for continuing to lower the US tax rates on the highest income brackets are following this logic.
Looking back at the wealthy “robber barons” of the 19th Century, it seems that the Carnegies and Rockefellers had a clear vision for making their fortunes building the infrastructure of America, even if it was done at the expense of their employees and competitors. They at least had some sense of their legacy and plowed a significant amount of their arguably ill got gain into foundations to add some value to the public good and mitigate their legacies.
And even some other contemporary uber-etrepreneurs who dive into politics on one side of the other - like Ross Perot, George Soros or Charles and David Koch - at least have a clear political agenda which one may support or oppose. But what is Trump's political vision beyond grabbing for tabloid headlines and indulging his ego on more than his share of the oxygen available to the nomination process.
It feels like Trump has crossed some sort of line, not pushing some political agenda so much as trying to turn the American political process into some whacked out narcissistic reality show starring DT himself. And there is a certain proportion of the American public that apparently believe that wealth truly has its privilege, and support this re-visioning and even mocking of our political system.
In the meantime, the important political thought at this moment in our decision-making process, like Congressman Ryan's GOP budget and Obama's response, or the Tea Party's push for smaller government, or the standoff between public service unions and GOP governors have to compete with the “Your fired!” guy, and how his mouth and money might continue to torque the political dialog.
Obama seemed exasperated by Trump when the US President announced he felt compelled by circumstances to refocus the national debate by releasing his long-form birth certificate. Cable news and the political blogosphere seem to give DT a lot of coverage because they are making the calculation that he interests a lot of Americans, getting their publications more viewer and reader eyeballs.
Trump seems to be an all round lightning rod and catalyst of bad behavior in both his critics as well as his supporters. How many progressive thought leaders, like comedian/commentator John Stewart, are openly saying that they hope Trump will get the GOP Presidential nomination in 2012? Many of us progressives grin when we hear it said... but think about it!
Isn't it truly disrespectful, as well as politically naïve, to taunt your political adversaries to be idiots and nominate a real loser to represent them in an important ongoing political debate of our country's future? Isn't taunting them that their leading candidate in some polls is a buffoon like saying, “Your mother wears army boots!”, or some such updated version of that dis. To use the sports metaphor, if you have a great team, do you want to be challenged to show your best by another great team or do you only want to only play lousy teams so you can beat the crap out of them?
Cancel my earlier fantasy for my expletive-delivering elevator speech with citizen Trump. Instead I would say...
Mr Trump... With all due respect to you as a fellow American citizen with our shared right to free speech, please think about the consequences of your words and actions and how they impact our shared society. If you are really in the race for President in 2012, please do your homework, read your history, and show some respect for the process!