How Do You Solve a Problem Like The Donald?

 

TrumpDescentIf you’re in the market for a Republican presidential candidate who wants to start a trade war with China, thinks there’s a causal link between vaccines and autism, believes there’s no need for entitlement reform, and led the charge on the birther movement, today’s your lucky day: As Johnny Dubya notes below, Donald Trump — probably the only candidate in this field who spent his announcement speech noodling on the state of America’s ‘brand’ — is now officially in the race.

Now, it’s easy enough to dismiss Trump as a sideshow. As Reid Epstein and Heather Haddon note in their report on the announcement in the Wall Street JournalNBC is still going forward on the assumption that Trump will tape the new season of Celebrity Apprentice in the fall — something he can’t do if he’s an active candidate — which may mean that he’s just taking his quadrennial exercise in publicity-seeking to new lengths. Either way, Republicans are still going to have to deal with the fact that every asinine utterance that comes out of the bloated gourd atop his shoulders will be gleefully seized upon by the Left and the media as evidence of the fundamental unseriousness of the GOP. They’ll also have to reckon with this:

Mr. Trump is likely to qualify for the Republican National Committee-sanctioned presidential debates, which Fox News and CNN have limited to candidates who place in the top 10 in national polling.

With his broad name recognition, he has received between 3% and 5% support in recent national polls, enough to qualify for the Aug. 6 Fox News debate. Candidates such as former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) may not make the cut. Also in jeopardy of exclusion is Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive and the only prominent woman in the GOP contest.

Could there be a more depressing thought for the GOP than Carly Fiorina — a woman who’s recently become the pacesetter for how Republicans should handle themselves with the media — sitting at home while Trump uses a presidential forum to pimp a 30-year-old book?

Here’s the question: what, if anything, does the GOP do? Leave it alone and count on Trump to expose himself as a buffoon in the debates? Try to find a way to keep him out? Does an enterprising candidate try to put points on the board by sticking it to The Donald onstage (paging Chris Christie)?

What would you do?

There are 112 comments.

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  1. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Troy Senik, Ed.: What would you do?

    In a no-win situation isn’t the best option usually to first do nothing, then observe the situation, then reassess and start the decision process again?

    • #1
  2. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    Troy Senik, Ed.:Now, it’s easy enough to dismiss Trump as a sideshow.

    We need an EJ Hill photoshop of “Sideshow Don,” stat!

    • #2
  3. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    This is the strongest argument I have seen against primaries.  Smoke-filled back room deals from now on.

    • #3
  4. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    The RNC needs something like a group of superdelegates to tweak the format and invitees to these debates.

    • #4
  5. billy Inactive
    billy
    @billy

    Is it possible that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the GOP?

    Republicans have sounded so mealy-mouthed and apologetic in the Obama era, and if there is one thing Trump is not, it is self-effacing.

    Maybe competing with The Donald will push the eventual nominee into being more assertive.

    • #5
  6. user_44643 Inactive
    user_44643
    @MikeLaRoche

    Still a better candidate than “Jeb!”

    Far better.

    • #6
  7. Illiniguy Member
    Illiniguy
    @Illiniguy

    Put him on waivers (along with Pataki and Christie). Maybe the Dems will pick him or all of them up to run against Herself.

    • #7
  8. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    It’s too late for this, but here’s a radical idea, good or bad.

    By this point in our history, we’ve pretty much established a list of things that Americans consider appropriate qualifications for the presidency.  Would it be too much for the RNC to require that — in order to participate in the debates and be otherwise treated remotely seriously to the extent party officials have anything to with it — a candidate have something approaching at least one of those qualifications?  Or would that be too utterly undemocratic?

    If you required a candidate to have been at the least a Republican nominee for Congress or statewide office, you include all the serious 2016 candidates and Carly Fiorina.  If you extended it to include anyone polling over 10% in the polls, you’d get Ben Carson at the moment, generals who win WWII, and any genuinely credible first-time office-seeker.  And you’d exclude Donald Trump.

    • #8
  9. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    You may not like Trump as a candidate but he is certainly not a buffoon. Buffoons don’t build a net worth of $8 billion. The least you can say is that he is at genius at self-promotion. Few other CEOs transformed their last name into a brand.

    Further, the mention of “brand” is very important and not just confined to marketing for products. What is the brand strength of the United States compared to say Russia or China or Germany or Iran? Still strong but on the skids in many parts of the world. There used to be a certain mystique about the US which has been gone since the Clinton years. Now everyone thinks they have us all figured out and can pick on us.

    • #9
  10. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Marion Evans:You may not like Trump as a candidate but he is certainly not a buffoon. Buffoons don’t build a net worth of $8 billion.

    Kim Kardashian’s net worth is 85 million.  Your move, Evans.

    • #10
  11. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Frank Soto:This is the strongest argument I have seen against primaries. Smoke-filled back room deals from now on.

    It’s fine, Frank.  He’s a marginal candidate, he’ll marginalize himself.

    • #11
  12. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    Frank Soto:

    Marion Evans:You may not like Trump as a candidate but he is certainly not a buffoon. Buffoons don’t build a net worth of $8 billion.

    Kim Kardashian’s net worth is 85 million. Your move, Evans.

    That is 1% of $8 billion and still within buffoon territory.

    • #12
  13. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Fred Cole:

    Frank Soto:This is the strongest argument I have seen against primaries. Smoke-filled back room deals from now on.

    It’s fine, Frank. He’s a marginal candidate, he’ll marginalize himself.

    But can the Republic survive in the interim?

    • #13
  14. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    Troy Senik, Ed.:Either way, Republicans are still going to have to deal with the fact that every asinine utterance that comes out of the bloated gourd atop his shoulders will be gleefully seized upon by the Left and the media as evidence of the fundamental unseriousness of the GOP.

    I’m not particularly worried about this. Trump is so well-known in the American psyche that most Americans do not associate him with the GOP, or with NBC, or even with the Trump Hotel Vegas. He is a solitary figure, and I think most people will understand that anything ridiculous he says represents his own view and nobody else’s.

    What worries me more are GOP voters who get excited when he says incredibly bone-headed things. Trump will eventually leave the party again – those voters won’t.

    • #14
  15. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Better than Clinton.

    • #15
  16. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Attack the press.  Say that the MSM complains year after year that the primaries are not serious and now it is spending resources on Trump.  Particularly in a year with as many solid candidates as there are.

    Directly engaging with Trump is like wrestling with a pig.

    • #16
  17. user_278007 Inactive
    user_278007
    @RichardFulmer

    Changing the rules to keep him out of the debates would just give him more publicity and hand the Dems a club with which to beat us about the head and shoulders.  Maybe before the debates he’ll get accosted in a dark alley by some barbers.

    • #17
  18. Troy Senik, Ed. Contributor
    Troy Senik, Ed.
    @TroySenik

    billy:Is it possible that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the GOP?

    Republicans have sounded so mealy-mouthed and apologetic in the Obama era, and if there is one thing Trump is not, it is self-effacing.

    Maybe competing with The Donald will push the eventual nominee into being more assertive.

    Seems like a stretch to me. By the time you get to the general, you’re playing to a different audience and I doubt that you’re taking stylistic cues from someone you beat in the primaries (anyone see any evidence that Newt’s attack dog style rubbed off on Romney in 2012?).

    Plus, I don’t think you compete with Trump in a primary debate by trying to ape his style. No one’s going to do it better than him. You go the other way.

    • #18
  19. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Frank Soto:

    Fred Cole:

    Frank Soto:This is the strongest argument I have seen against primaries. Smoke-filled back room deals from now on.

    It’s fine, Frank. He’s a marginal candidate, he’ll marginalize himself.

    But can the Republic survive in the interim?

    It’s survived its capital being burned, a civil war, two world wars, and four years of Jimmy Carter.  It’ll survive ten weeks of Donald Trump pretending to run for president.

    • #19
  20. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @BenMSYS

    There has to be a mechanism that kicks in before the delegate selection process for the party to say some equivalent of “Thanks, but you really don’t represent the views of the party. Good luck as an independent.”
    You can imagine how much damage could be done if one party, say the Democrats, has a presumptive candidate, say Hillary, so they urge crossover votes to build up the biggest buffoon in the opposing party.

    • #20
  21. Illiniguy Member
    Illiniguy
    @Illiniguy

    Fred Cole:It’s survived its capital being burned, a civil war, two world wars, and four years of Jimmy Carter. It’ll survive ten weeks of Donald Trump pretending to run for president.

    You didn’t mention surviving 8 years of Obama. Are you hedging your bets?

    • #21
  22. Troy Senik, Ed. Contributor
    Troy Senik, Ed.
    @TroySenik

    Mike LaRoche:Still a better candidate than “Jeb!”

    Far better.

    Wow. Really? I’m far from being a Jeb guy, but the idea that a successful, relatively conservative two-term governor of Florida is an inferior choice to Trump boggles my mind.

    I do, however, think this is emblematic of something that the chattering classes are only now starting to realize: that there is a huge swath of the Republican electorate that will not turn to Jeb under any circumstances. It’s not a matter of marketing or positioning. They’re just not interested in what he’s selling — and they have way too many other options. I regard that as basically insurmountable. I don’t care how much money he raises — I have a hard time seeing how he gets the nomination.

    • #22
  23. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    If you want him gone, I know how to get him out.

    Remember how hard he demanded the President’s birth certificate? (I’m glad he did by they way)

    Demand to see Trump’s personal tax returns just as hard.  Ask him at every appearance.  Ask him nothing else.  Doggedly write columns about his refusal to turn them over and nothing else.

    He’ll leave.  He will NEVER let you see his returns.

    • #23
  24. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Who really cares what the Democrats—which includes the media—thinks of Republican candidates?

    If we adopted that standard we wouldn’t have had President Reagan, who they also considered a buffoon.

    I’ll note he’s more qualified, from a perspective of personal achievement, than any of the Democratic candidates.

    He’d certainly make a better President than any of the Democrats, including the one currently in office.

    • #24
  25. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    BenMSYS:There has to be a mechanism that kicks in before the delegate selection process for the party to say some equivalent of “Thanks, but you really don’t represent the views of the party. Good luck as an independent.” You can imagine how much damage could be done if one party, say the Democrats, has a presumptive candidate, say Hillary, so they urge crossover votes to build up the biggest buffoon in the opposing party.

    I’m thinking Sanders might be just big enough to prevent that being an issue, at least in the early states.

    But yes, surely there should be a way to at least require some evidence of past Republican affiliation.

    • #25
  26. user_339092 Member
    user_339092
    @PaulDougherty

    I am sort of disappointed he didn’t challenge Hillary for Democrat primary.

    • #26
  27. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    “…every asinine utterance that comes out of the bloated gourd atop his shoulders …”

    BTW, CoC violation!

    • #27
  28. Troy Senik, Ed. Contributor
    Troy Senik, Ed.
    @TroySenik

    Marion Evans:You may not like Trump as a candidate but he is certainly not a buffoon. Buffoons don’t build a net worth of $8 billion. The least you can say is that he is at genius at self-promotion. Few other CEOs transformed their last name into a brand.

    I’ll happily concede Trump’s talents for making money and generally adoring Donald Trump at an inappropriate volume. The “buffoon” characterization was of him as a political figure. To give another example: Ben Carson is nothing short of a genius as a surgeon — but he has no clue what’s he doing when it comes to politics or policy. The salient difference in my mind: Carson at least seems to be running in earnest (not that he’d mind selling more books as a result), whereas Trump appears to be gaming the entire process for the purposes of a brand awareness exercise.

    Further, the mention of “brand” is very important and not just confined to marketing for products. What is the brand strength of the United States compared to say Russia or China or Germany or Iran? Still strong but on the skids in many parts of the world. There used to be a certain mystique about the US which has been gone since the Clinton years. Now everyone thinks they have us all figured out and can pick on us.

    All granted, but there’s a certain crassness to describing the global esteem of a great nation in the same terms as your line of cologne.

    • #28
  29. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    Frank Soto:

    Fred Cole:

    Frank Soto:This is the strongest argument I have seen against primaries. Smoke-filled back room deals from now on.

    It’s fine, Frank. He’s a marginal candidate, he’ll marginalize himself.

    But can the Republic survive in the interim?

    Quite nicely, thank you very much.

    • #29
  30. user_82762 Thatcher
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    billy:Is it possible that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the GOP?

    Republicans have sounded so mealy-mouthed and apologetic in the Obama era, and if there is one thing Trump is not, it is self-effacing.

    Maybe competing with The Donald will push the eventual nominee into being more assertive.

    Billy,

    This is a good thought but may not really work. Carly is serving that role at the moment. She is very disciplined and stays on message pounding Hillary. If you could rely on the Donald to do the same and jump up and down on BHO it would be great. The problem I think Troy is talking about is that the Donald is a loose canon and with that much money and organization a large caliber loose canon.

    My answer to Troy is I don’t have any idea. I do have a severe headache. I’ll take two aspirins and lie down maybe. There that’s better.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #30

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