Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Donald Trump's diabolical plan to own centre stage

Just try to have an intelligent conversation
with me around. 

I think everyone is noticing what Steve Benen wrote about a few days ago, which is that Donald Trump is driving the debate amongst Republican presidential candidates.

It reminds me of something a counsellor friend once said to me, which is that in any group of people, whether family or friends or co-workers or whatever, one person frequently gets the lion's share of attention. It's usually because the behaviour is so outrageous that everyone needs to talk about it, complain about it, or devise ways to deal with the mayhem created by said individual. Importantly, this person doesn't even have to hold a prominent position within the social group. The only thing required is outrageousness or inappropriateness. You know what I'm talking about.

Donald Trump is now that person for Republicans, as we have seen, for example, in the reaction to his comments on immigration.

Ted Cruz said that Trump may have a colourful way of speaking but he has a point.  Huckabee also distanced himself from the way Trump said things but not from his general argument. Santorum said he didn't like Trump's "verbiage" but cited illegal immigration and its impact on American workers. Chris Christie, Rick Perry, and Jeb Bush are all talking about Trump, though the latter two have been critical of Trump's characterization of Mexicans.

The point is that Trump's stock-in-trade is saying outrageous things, which he will continue to do. And candidates will be asked to agree or disagree with what has been said if only because of the absurd way in which Trump has said it. 

Cruz, Santorum, and Huckabee don't want to be too far off side of Trump's basic point of view because it plays well with their base. Bush in particular wants to put some distance between himself and Trump because Bush wants to position himself as the adult in the room. In all cases Trump is increasingly setting himself up as the standard against which candidates are judged, the dispenser of opinions that have to be embraced or rejected.

Trump can't win, but he'll get way too much attention and have an out-sized impact on the way issues are framed.

Is there any way that can be good for the Republican Party?


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  • It isn't just about saying offensive things, though. First, Trump has to be taken seriously as a candidate. He is taken serious, of course, because the Republicans fetishize wealth and the supposed brilliance of business people. Second, Cruz is speaking the truth. The difference between extreme and establishment Republicans is that the former say what the latter only imply. Regardless, the voters get it. But they like the establishment candidates, because most voters don't want to think of themselves as bigots. When bigotry becomes obvious, they can't avoid seeing themselves as bigoted for supporting such candidates. For politicians, it is much better to talk about welfare queens and furlough programs.

    By Blogger Frank Moraes, at 2:44 PM  

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