Friday, May 29, 2015

Donald Trump and "the question"

By Richard Barry

The Beatles were wrong. Money can in fact buy you love, at least some. Donald Trump is proof of that.

Are we excited that Trump is about to announce his intention to run for the GOP presidential nomination? Not really, but it looks like he's going to do it anyway, sometime in mid-June.

There are a few things that should be said about this. The first is that significant numbers of Americans confuse wealth with intelligence, and the second is that presidential politics increasingly provides a platform for certain people, with no chance of electoral success, to become wealthy or increase their wealth, and their profile.

Sadly, there is nothing to be done about this.

In presidential politics there is something known as "the question." If you were ever a fan of "The West Wing" you might know about this, but it's much older than that. "The question" posed to presidential aspirants is "why do you want to be president?" Ted Kennedy famously fumbled that query once upon a time, which is surprising as the answer always involves reference to the candidate's unique skill set being needed by the nation, which is experiencing certain crises at that particular time and how it would be an honour to serve a country which has given the candidate so much, yadda, yadda, yadda.

When Trump is asked the question I am sure he will be able to bluster his way through it, which is too bad. Better that candidates should have to take a lie detector test to weed out those whose only goal is personal aggrandizement, but then three-quarters of the GOP field would be gone.

Maybe the problem is that Donald Trump is the most glaring example of what has become of presidential politics, especially since Sarah Palin, which is that in a country in which celebrity is currency, the stage is too big to avoid attracting people who are not at all interested in public service, to put it kindly.

But the show must go on.


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