Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bid? No Trump

Sometimes in the news business, there’s news coming at you from so far off that when it finally arrives, it isn’t news anymore. That happened Monday when billionaire publicity enthusiast Donald Trump formally, finally dislodged the hairball we knew was coming and announced that he would not be running for the presidency of the United States in 2012. The earth’s axis remained unchanged, much like the rapidly declining fortunes of the Republican Party.

The king of wishful thinking announced his decision on the same day he was meeting with NBC executives to discuss the future of his show "The Celebrity Apprentice" — the same day that NBC announced the programming for its fall 2010 lineup, with Trump’s program very much in that lineup.

“I will not be running for president as much as I'd like to,” Trump said in a written statement.

“This decision does not come easily or without regret; especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country,” Trump said. “I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and, ultimately, the general election.” —

Oh well, yes sir, Sir Donald, there’s absolutely no doubt about that!

“I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half-heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.”

◊ ◊ ◊

With that, the certification of the stillbirth of Donald Trump’s presidential ambition was official. No long form is required. Trump’s deeply cynical, racism-tinged campaign, entirely defined by his revival of the Obama birther issue, was doomed from the start, despite his high showing in several recent opinion polls — a showing in the polls no doubt animated by the relative absence of any other recognizable name in the GOP field of dreamers, and by the fact that, this far out, there was nothing to lose by polled voters elevating a man they knew wouldn’t run and wouldn’t win if he did run.

And those poll respondents had company. The only thing more improbable than Trump’s flirtation with a presidential campaign was the number of media mainstreamers prepared to take him seriously this time, despite his past pattern of behavior. Various talking fishheads like Charles Krauthammer, Dick Morris, David Brooks and Mark Halprin suggested, silkily or straight out, that Donald Trump might have been the adrenalizing factor the Republicans sorely need on the eve of the 2012 campaign season.

But in all their assessments, there was always the thread of default: Trump rose to the top of the field because everyone else among the possible presidential contenders seemed to pale by comparison. Nobody had buzz but Trump, no one could stir the drink like Trump. Maybe those pundits got it right after all: To go by the recent pro-Trump polls and his reception from some in the conservative media, there’s a sense that for the Republicans right now, gravitas can wait. The GOP is in a hunt for effervescence, for that galvanizing candidate who captures, or embodies, lightning in a bottle.

But they won’t get it from the mogul with hair with a mind of its own.

◊ ◊ ◊

The Republican saga continues. Newt Gingrich is officially in, of course, as well as the libertarian Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. Evangelical darling Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Krispy Kreme enthusiast, has announced he won’t run next year.

Attention has started to coalesce around the usual suspects (former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney) and credible outliers (Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels). The name of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has been tossed around, God knows why.

But The Donald will observe it all from the plush, moneyed, oaken security of the “Celebrity Apprentice” boardroom. He’ll release political broadsides from time to time, in his own singular way hoping to remind the nation of what they missed when he bowed out. He’ll go on firing people for NBC.

We’ll just have to make do, living our lives without the campaign of a man who really didn’t really want to get hired in the first place.

Image credit: Trump: David Shankbone, republished under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license 3.0 Unported license.

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