In New Hampshire the other evening a fairly large group of people turned out to listen to Donald Trump, the world’s most famous landlord, as he talked about how great he is and how terrific the country will be when he is president. Trump arrives everywhere with the certainty and confidence of a guy who has never had to choose between making a mortgage payment or taking care of a tuition bill.
He is the most familiar face in a line-up of Republican candidates that with few exceptions resembles a parade of pygmies. He has been on TV for more than a decade so people figure they know him, the way they know the meteorologist, the sportscaster or the news anchor on their local network affiliate in Des Moines or Manchester.
And when he shows up one of the big differences between Trump and the rest of the field is obvious. All the others arrive with a title and people ask questions that start with “Senator” or “Governor,” but with Trump it’s simply, “Hey, Donald.”
Donald is accessible. He isn’t surrounded by a flying squadron of handlers and public relations hacks. He will answer any question posed to him and his replies are offered without fear of controversy because a big part of being Trump means you simply do not care what people think about what you just said.
Donald is not boring. Half the rest of the Republican field, other than John Kasich, behave like store mannequins. The other half resemble people badly in need of professional help.
There is Cruz from Texas who could easily be cast as the villain in any Bond or Batman film. There is Rand Paul, clearly unaware that he is a dead man walking. There is Scott Walker, who, odds on, two years from now will be a greeter at the Oshkosh Home Depot. And there are just so many others on the massive GOP presidential stage who appear to be unable to do simple tasks like boiling water or plugging in a lamp without the risk of self-electrocution. Sad people.
So Donald’s success isn’t that much of a mystery. He says a lot of outrageous things along with some truly absurd things, but when you throw his nouns, verbs, adjectives, accusations, and attacks into the home blender you come up with a heaping glass full of the frustration cocktail Americans have been served over the past decade: wars that don’t end, a Congress that doesn’t work, paychecks that don’t grow, take-home pay that never increases, bridges and roads that need to be rebuilt, public schools where the emphasis is on testing at the expense of thinking.
Donald is scratching your sore. To him, the 1 percent that so many others talk about isn’t the gamblers, greed-heads and tax-avoiding hedge fund billionaires who have turned a large part of the American economy into their very own casino. In other words, many of Trump’s golfing pals.
No: the 1 percent Trump talks about endlessly is the 1 percent who sit in the House and the Senate; “the morons” he claims that are incapable of getting anything done.
It is highly likely that Donald will not be the Republican nominee. And it is even more likely that Donald will never be seated around the table in the Situation Room, one hand on the trigger, the other on a comb, deciding whether or not to turn Tehran into dust, sand, and glass.
But standing in the back of a hall, listening to him speak while watching people nod their heads in some weird combination of agreement and amusement, one thing is pretty clear: Donald isn’t going away for awhile.