Donald Trump’s attempt to remain relevant to the political process after his own dismal attempt to swim the presidential waters amounts to a desire to host a debate, turning that political process into something he knows much better: a TV reality show. It is as if a reality show, which is a misnomer, does more than mimic reality. But a reality show is not reality but the illusion of it.
Making a debate presented in this format more an illusion of a debate, and Trump, who could not be king, a kingmaker. There is a miasma of unreality about the whole thing, which is perhaps fitting given the freak-show of Republican politics. Why shouldn’t Republican politics be put on a par with reality television?
It’s more a political version of his Celebrity Apprentice.
And that’s exactly what we’re going to get. Conservative news site Newsmax has announced that
Newsmax Media and ION Television, one of the nation’s largest broadcast networks, will collaborate to host a Republican presidential debate on Tuesday, Dec. 27, moderated by businessman Donald J. Trump.
The debate will be televised live on ION Television from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. ET and is being billed as “the last forum of major Republican presidential candidates a week before the Jan. 3, 2012 Iowa caucus.” We are promised a “unique” perspective thanks to the participation of Donald Trump.
Not all Americans are enamored of the idea. Neither are all the candidates, Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul among them.
Ron Paul’s concern has some validity. Said Jesse Benton, his national campaign chairman:
“The selection of a reality television personality to host a presidential debate that voters nationwide will be watching is beneath the office of the Presidency and flies in the face of that office’s history and dignity.”
But then Barack Obama has shown that a president can be both an august personage and approachable, by appearing on various television shows, including the Late Show with David Letterman and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. On the other hand, neither David Letterman nor Jon Stewart has any presidential aspirations of their own, unlike Donald Trump. Said Benton :
“Mr. Trump’s selection is also wildly inappropriate because of his record of toying with the serious decision of whether to compete for our nation’s highest office, a decision he appeared to make frivolously.”
In other words, Trump didn’t take the job seriously enough. I guess we can take from this that Ron Paul won’t pull a Sarah Palin and appear on Saturday Night Life.
And more so even than entertainers like Letterman and Stewart, Trump is a showman, as Paul recognizes:
“Mr. Trump’s participation as moderator will distract from questions and answers concerning important issues such as the national economy, crushing federal government debt, the role of the federal government, foreign policy, and the like. To be sure, Mr. Trump’s participation will contribute to an unwanted circus-like atmosphere.”
Of course, according to Trump (and unlike himself?), Ron Paul is an un-electable candidate. This snide remark is a rather ridiculous charge coming from another un-electable candidate.
Huntsman said of the event, through spokesperson Tim Miller:
“We have declined to participate in the ‘Presidential Apprentice’ Debate with The Donald. The Republican Party deserves a serious discussion of the issues so voters can choose a leader they trust to defeat President Obama and turn our economy around.”
So Huntsman, like Paul, thinks the entertainment-like atmosphere of a Trump-hosted event is beneath the dignity of a presidential hopeful. Trump is not a media personality. He doesn’t do interviews for a living – except for job interviews. He is a businessman. More, he is a very visible representative of the 1% now seeing their once iron-clad mythology as job creators challenged in streets across the nation.
“Few people take Ron Paul seriously and many of his views and presentation make him a clown-like candidate. I am glad he and Jon Huntsman, who has inconsequential poll numbers or a chance of winning, will not be attending the debate and wasting the time of the viewers who are trying very hard to make a very important decision.”
Trump showed them. Makes you wonder if he will fire anybody? You can be certain that he intends his role to be that of kingmaker, blessing one lucky conservative and dismissing the others as wannabes, as he has already done with regards to Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman, putting himself above the political process and above even the will of the people. Donald Trump is the 1% and the 1% will judge. The question is, who will emerge as the Donald’s new apprentice? Who will be fired?
I have one candidate for the latter: Rick Santorum has already accepted.
Update (12.7.11): Mitt Romney has declined to attend Trump’s debate.