Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Defending The Donald

David Brooks explains why we need Donald Trump to run for president.

Thus, there has always been a fan base for the abrasive rich man. There has always been a market for books by people like George Steinbrenner, Ross Perot, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Bobby Knight, Howard Stern and George Soros. There has always been a large clump of voters who believe that America could reverse its decline if only a straight-talking, obnoxious blowhard would take control.

And today, apparently, Donald Trump is that man. Trump, currently most famous for telling people that they are fired, has surged toward the top of the presidential primary polls. In one poll, he was in (remote) striking distance in a head-to-head against President Obama. Many people regard Trump as a joke and his popularity a disgrace. But he is actually riding a deep public fantasy: The hunger for the ultimate blowhard who can lead us through dark times.

(He’s seriously lumping George Soros in with Howard Stern as a “blowhard”? WTF?)

In 2009, Trump published a book with a very Trumpian title: “Think Like a Champion.” In that book, he praised Obama’s “amazing” and “phenomenal” accomplishments. “Barack Obama proved that determination combined with opportunity and intelligence can make things happen — and in an exceptional way,” Trump gushed.

Now he spouts birther nonsense and calls Obama the worst president in American history. Now he leads rallies that make Michele Bachmann events look like the League of Women Voters. Even angry American voters want some level of seriousness, prudence and self-control.

But I do insist that Trump is no joke. He emerges from deep currents in our culture, and he is tapping into powerful sections of the national fantasy life. I would never vote for him, but I would never want to live in a country without people like him.

Mr. Brooks reminds me of the 98-lb. weakling who hung out with all the football jocks in high school just to guarantee that he wouldn’t get stuffed in his locker: “Gee, Biff, you’re a great guy.” (Never mind that the kid always ends up stuffed in there just for fun.) So I wonder what he’s going to write when the Trump campaign is revealed to be a thinly-veiled joke. “Ha ha, Biff; you got me with that one!”

Sycophancy at its finest.