What’s Your Game, Donald?

I try to avoid political commentary on this blog[1] but current events are pretty much compelling me to do so. Operating on the philosophy of "watch what they do, not listen to what they say", I surmised early on from Jeb Bush's campaign he had zero interest in running for the presidency, that he was just pressured into it by family / friends / GOP establishment and he did everything in as passive-aggressive a method as possible to torpedo interest in him.[2]

Now I'm looking at Donald Trump and am asking myself, does this guy act like he actually wants to be president and if not, what is he really trying to accomplish?

And I think the answers to those two questions are:

  1. No, and
  2. the destruction of the GOP as it exists today.

Demagogues know how to tailor their pitch to specific audience segments. Trump isn't doing that; he's going solely for the one group that is most dramatically declining on the American political scene.  Even if one chose the Trump base as a starting point to build a campaign, it has to extend outwards from that; it can't stay focused on a group that simply cannot sweep a candidate into power on its own.

Next, his long list of deliberately contradictory messages, each of which is giving a wave off to many people who might otherwise be willing to vote for him.

Couple that with refusal to adhere to even the most basic planks of the party, as well as deliberately alienating the establishment (c'mon, he's doubtlessly had plenty of opportunities behind closed doors to tell them "it's just an act for the rubes, fellas, I'm one of you") and I don't see a serious campaign for the presidency...

...but I do see a sabotage campaign.

As several other people have observed, Trump isn't interested in doing, he's interested in winning.

And winning to him, as he has demonstrated over his entire life, has consisted of getting recognition. Everything he does is about him, and even deals that fail, or deals in which he has virtually no real involvement, are massively important to him -- and in his mind, successes -- because his name is on them.

It's been postulated that he was angry at Obama for roasting him at the DC press dinner a few years back. Are you kidding? That was the high water mark of his life up til then: The President of the United States was making jokes about him and referring to him by name. That validated him, it didn't denigrate him.

But being left out to dry on the birther branch by the GOP, that pissed him off.

The original birther question -- was Obama a US citizen by birth if his father was a non-citizen -- had at least of hint of legitimacy to it.[3] However, once ample legal precedent had been pointed to, then Obama's short form -- the same form every other state uses & recognizes as a legitimate proof of citizenship & identity -- settled the matter.

Any further question had nothing to do with actual legality and instead was pure racial bigotry -- especially since it involved a far fetched scenario in which some evil far left conspiracy, somehow knowing Obama half a century later would be the chosen one, faked a Hawaiian birth certificate and notices in two Honolulu newspapers to hide the fact he was really born in Kenya.

Trump took the charge on that one and promoted it heavily, even though it was patently absurd to anyone with two brain cells rubbing together.[4] I don't think Trump believed it, I don't think he ever sent over investigators, I think the whole thing was a PR farce.

But the GOP, trying to have it both ways, let Trump go on and make himself look ridiculous while distancing themselves from the actual birther charges.

I think that was one of the few times Trump felt embarrassed, not because the birther claims were ridiculous in and of themselves, but because he was left holding that whole smelly bag all by himself.[5]

But the GOP as a party could not cling to the birther narrative and so they've had to let it go, even if they've never formally acknowledged it was bogus.

Trump is smart enough to know he can't play the birther card anymore -- he's resolutely deflected all attempts to get him to comment on it -- but he has figured out all the other things that go along with the birther nonsense and he is hellbound to drape those around the GOP's neck in full public view.

That is his game. If you want a perfect picture of Donald Trump in 2016, just imagine an ex-girlfriend showing up at a wedding with a squalling infant in arms.


[1] Oh, who the #%@& am I trying to kid?

[2] Sidebar: Thank you, Jeb!

[3] Short answer: Yes, Grover Cleveland was a US citizen and his father was still Irish when Grover was born.

[4] Provided those brain cells weren't infected with racism.

[5] They could have helped him back off the branch: Let him announce his investigation did indeed prove Obama was a US citizen by birth, have the GOP acknowledge that and thank Trump for settling the issue once and for all, then moving on.

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