Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Tuesday, September 26, 2023 | Back issues
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Trump Agonistes

Trump Agonistes, a media play acted out over the course of the month of March.

Woe to the candidate who talks freely and often with the press, without a retinue of advisers and a memorized set of phrases.

Woe to the candidate who speaks freely and honestly about a furious issue of the right and slips up and says something similar to the truth, which is that the proclaimed Republican orthodoxy is in fact to punish a woman by taking away her choice in the matter of being a mother.

And woe, seriously woe, to the candidate who bucks the Republican establishment of businessmen who, with their money, can normally cast a spell on the Bible-thumping rabble of the right.

Because when those forces combine with the media's insane search for a slip-up, your goose is cooked.

But in his agony, Trump still dominated the news for days on end.

And, Courthouse News reporters have credentials for the Republican convention. If the month of March was a drama, the convention will be madness on wheels, a circus for the ages.

When Trump fell to the hounds of the press and the valkyries of the religious right on the question of whether a woman should be punished for an abortion, I felt a tinge of sympathy for him.

Because as crazy as he is at times, Trump is a reporter's dream. He is extraordinarily open and accessible. You ask a question, he doesn't duck. He tries to answer. He gets burned and keeps plugging away. A remarkable character.

I keep coming back to the idea of a play, because Trump is a kind of all-American character, pumped up into a Michelin man and broadcast into your home every night for a new round of entertainment.

He is the salesman, the American salesman, the fellow who is selling something, shoes, real estate, bad education, whatever it might be, but who is really, as are all good salesmen, selling himself.

Every night, every interview, every speech, he sells himself.

But. of course, that did not work out so well in March. Apparently, after the feeding frenzy of the media and the religionists, his old carcass is not likely to get far in Wisconsin.

But New York is coming 'round the corner. Ted Cruz and his sanctimony may work in parts of the Midwest, I don't see it selling in New York or the rest of the Northeast.

The political scene now is like an Alice in Wonderland chessboard with five players playing at once, where one bad move could cost you, not your head, but a statewide primary.

So I was worried that Clinton would come out of the battle against Sanders with a victory at the convention, but then be dragged down by a deflating loss of momentum.

In that event, Trump would be a wild card, the wildest.

Because it would be a question of who he would motivate more, those against him or those for him. If he was on the opposing ticket, he would bring out the Latino voters and much of the youth, even if Clinton could not.

But he would also bring out his folks, and his anti-establishment mantra would play well against Clinton who would have been set firmly inside the corporate camp by the months-long drumbeat from Sanders.

He could...go...all the way.

And, more seriously, disasters ensue.

What if, in the end, it is the two less-inspiring candidates who make it onto their opposing tickets. I think that might be what the business types in the Republican party are playing for, Clinton v. Cruz.

Voter turn-out would be low. It would be pretty much politics as usual, millions of dollars pouring into the campaign from big donors on the right, not so much from small donors on the left.

Clinton would likely prevail. But the Republican anti-tax majorities in Congress would be left intact, and the Republican business types, the unions and the various subsets of the Democratic Party could work with Clinton. So more or less the status quo.

That is probably the strategy from the inner confines of wealth on the right.Because Trump, ah Trump, if Trump is on the ticket, all bets are off. The people will come out. It could break a bunch of ways, but the vote will be mighty.

And those invested in the way things are now, almost the definition of "The Establishment," would lose control of the process. Without a doubt.

Now, those predictions are probably worth about a nickel. I thought Jeb Bush was unstoppable and the perfect candidate for the Republicans. He adhered to the old orthodoxy, at the same time sounded reasonable and above all spoke Spanish.

Then along came Trump.

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