How did Donald Trump become a contender?

Donald Trump is interviewed in New York, Monday, April 25, 2011. The real estate mogul criticized Republicans for embracing Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to cut Medicare and seemed hurt that 2008 GOP nominee John McCain had suggested Trump's potential presidential bid was a publicity grab. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The tawdry tale of how professional celebrity Donald Trump became a player in the Republican Presidential Presidential sweepstakes is a sad commentary on the state of politics in America.

Trump has no political experience, hasn’t voted in a primary election in 21 years, doesn’t have a campaign or even a real grasp of the many issues and problems facing the nation. Yet he’s dominating the media and political scene.

How did it happen?

Trump benefits from the pop culture that has replaced substance in American politics. His rise to prominence can be traced to the same shallowness that allow instant celebrities like Sarah Palin to gain prominence in political circles. His embrace of the discredited “birther” movement appeals to the rampant racism that dominates the far right wing that controls much of the Republican agenda and appeals to the basic ignorance of the GOP base.

Oddly, it was a gay rights group within the Republican Party that gave Trump his shot at political exposure when it invited the real estate developer and reality TV star to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

They thought it would shake up things at CPAC. They got more than than bargained for.

Now Trump dominates the GOP political debate. He craves media attention and the 24/7 media cycle of news channels and the Internet plays to his celebrity addiction. He’s tailor-made for a culture that craves flash over substance.

Writes Alex Altman on Time.Com:

In the annals of political reportage, I thought perhaps we’d hit bottom last week with this: a fake journalist interviewing a fake presidential candidate about a campaign that will never exist. Meghan McCain and Trump banter about important topics like what Meghan’s mom thinks of the Donald, whether the real-estate tycoon would hire the writer and whether Trump is “really ready for this.” The whole piece reads like two teens gossiping over AIM.

Not to be outdone, Slate – perpetually on the hunt for the counter-intuitive take – found a Daily Caller scribe to make the case for taking Trump’s candidacy seriously. The upshot: Trump’s chest-thumping brio plays well in a party that’s “supposed to be all about ‘me.'” Jeff Winkler writes that Trump’s challenge is “to sell the conservative movement on two things: that he has the kind of pugnacious pizzazz that can beat Obama, and that he shares some of its core values.” Trump has the pugnacity part down pat. Just look at how he questioned Obama’s birth certificate, bravely soldiering on in the face of all evidence. Like Republicans, Winkler concludes, Trump is “serious about winning.”

But the question remains: Can he survive over the long term and will he even run. Skeptics suggest Trump is just in it for the media exposure and say he will move on once that opportunity is exhausted.

And when that happens, will the Republican Party go looking for a real candidate who focuses on real issues? Or will it just find another pop icon that plays to the lowest level of shrillness that has become all too prevalent on the American political scene?

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Comments

  1. DejaVuAllOver

    Doug. I think you got this completely bass-ackwards. Trump may be a vain and arrogant prick, but the world is full of those. This is about the media looking to create another Ronald Reagan, their last hit reality TV star, since Sarah Palin is no longer in the ratings. The media, including the entire “entertainment industry” has operated this way for years. They hardly mind propping up idiots and pretty faces, like Reagan, Palin, Brittany Spears, yadda yadda as long as they stay in line. Hell, the same ploy even works for Middle East dictators who they support for years as long as they can keep their citizens from attacking Israel. Like Kaddafi, Trump will inevitably mouth off to the wrong mobsters and will have to be “replaced” so I agree with you that he won’t last too long. Although, the right is DESPERATE for a leader now and the media is equally desperate for a leader they can control, so maybe they think that they can buy off Trump and his gargantuan ego. Hell, it worked with Kaddafi for 40+ years.

  2. Observer

    Donald Trump is like the Kardashian sisters: never really done anything, but somehow is famous for….being famous.

    In a just world, he would be put out to pasture on The Hollywood Squares.

    What’s that??? Is Hollywood Squares still around?

    Is Donald Trump still around?

  3. Michael Griffith aka Griff

    I don’t like Trump at all, but to be fair, Obama didn’t have much experience or grasp of the issues either. He still doesn’t.

  4. bmclellan

    How is because the Circus that is U.S. politics never leaves town as
    it continues to acquire new acts,
    and is made up of nothing but of clowns…

    Ole P.T. had it right, there’s a sucker born every minute, even if he didn’t own up to really saying that..

    • Carl Nemo

      One major problem I have with political candidates is that there’s no guidelines from the Federal to local level that candidates must have a NCIC (National Crime Information Center) check with a focus on citizenship for those offices that require such along with a drug test for both licit and illicit drugs. They can continue to run or drop out that’s their business, but results need to be made public in the voters pamphlet. Many white collar ‘sophisticates’ are hooked on non-prescribed prescription drugs.

      It’s not because I have an axe to grind against the drug users per se, but it’s the aforedescribed crimpols and judges that create and enforce such draconian measures including testing and foist it off on the general population while they skate. Even members of Congress should be called in for a spot test, the Supremes and the White House. Try to get a decent job in this country without passing a ‘drug test’ prior to being hired…?

      The end result is that we’d hopefully flush a lot of hypocrites and crazies from public office even those aspiring to such. These people are worse than clowns Bryan and that’s why politics has become a fetid compost heap of legislative refuse.

      Six weeks before local general elections you’ll see signs sprout up along freeway entrance and exit ramps with “Vote for …” signs. In most cases we’ve never heard their names and if you do any research you’ll find out they are aspiring nobodies looking to get their snouts in the public trough. Then once ensconced in office by indiscrminate, dim-witted voters some scandal hits the fan because the newly minted pol has something foul in their seabag relative to their alleged credentials or some shenanigans committed while in office.

      In Mr. Trump’s case it is important to know how many times he’s filed for bankruptcy under what circumstances etc. It’s been of a business nature and not personal. He’s aspiring to the job of CEO of the U.S. and seemingly is relying on his acumen as a businessman. He’s a graduate of Wharton School of Business the University of Pennsylvania. I’m providing a Wiki link with his bio and it’s about as close to an NCIC background check we’ll get.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump

      Make no mistake he’s a smart guy, but most of the time is overly flamboyant which is a turnoff of people living in Iowa and New Hampshire which are key in launching a president to office. So too he’s infinitely more qualified to deal with the shysters that are currently shaking down U.S. taxpayers as opposed to our current ‘Comander in Chief’ who’s claim to fames is being a community organizer in Chicago and a short term U.S. Senator with no track record. I don’t think Goldman Sachs would want him to be president because he’s far too savvy and would challenge alot of the shenanigans in high places now seemingly ‘greenlighted’ by the Obama adminstration. Nothing good has happened for this nation under Obama & Co., the same as under Bush/Cheney. It seems we’ve gone from simply going down the tubes to an accelerated process thereof.

      Carl Nemo **==

      • Siannan

        Yes, he’s filed for business bankruptcy four times, which means basically, he’s driven the car into the pole four times. There are plenty of businessmen in this country who have their own businesses who have NEVER filed bankruptcy (hmmm, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett – who, by the way, also went to Wharton and apparently paid more attention than Donald because Warren has never filed for bankruptcy, Steven Jobs, Steve Wozniak and I could probably go on). Either way, I’d hire any of those four people to run this country, before I’d even consider Donald Trump.

        And never mind his personal life.

      • bmclellan

        Hey Carl, good to hear from you, hope you had a nice break. Your point about testing for illicit drug use is spot on. I can almost see the rats scurrying if such were the case.
        I would take it to a new level for the over 21 crowd and legalize all but crack and meth, then let the wheat separate itself from the chaff.
        It’s high time to stop babysitting the populace and let the chips fall so to speak..

        • Carl Nemo

          Thanks Bryan for the welcome back. Unfortunately it isn’t under the best of circumstances. I’ve sustained major damage to my right shoulder rotator cuff with complete separation of the both major tendons; ie., the Supraspinatus and the Subscapularis from the cuff with a 4.2 cm gap per the MRI along with major residual inflamation. I cannot abduct my right arm from the side to horizontal and above although I can still curl with the bicep and push down down with the triceps and perform rotational movement with the forearm.

          I sustained this by stupidly and impatiently trying to push my lawn tractor out of stuck in the mud situation on an uphill incline instead of fetching my comealong, a length of chain and making fast to a nearby tree. All my wife could say in a deadpan fashion is…”do you still think you’re in your thirties?”. / : | My shoulder was partially dislocated too, but I know how to reseat a shoulder joint if necessary on my own and took care of that problem immediately. I’m headed for a conference with the surgeon on Monday concerning the upcoming procedure. I’ll probably be out of commission for awhile again. Other than that I’m still kickin’. : D

          Carl Nemo **==

      • Keith

        Carl, you have a point.

        Clearly, someone who is a regular user of illegal drugs is subject to blackmail and is therefore a high security risk.

        I’m reminded of the Clinton White House where numerous Top Secret and higher security clearances were delayed because such persons admitted to frequent drug use.