There is more than a year and a half to go before the 2012 Presidential Election. But that hasn’t stopped the cranking up of the Speculatron, with a giddying array of names being pitched for the Republican nomination (it’s generally conceded that Barack Obama will be nominated by the Democrats, with no serious opposition).
Some of the names thus pitched can be taken moderately seriously: Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney (who has just declared his candidacy) and possibly Chris Christie (the latter a favourite of the increasingly scary looking Ann Coulter). Some, however, such as Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour, Michelle Bachmann and (yes, it’s her again) Sarah Palin, cannot.
And then we come to Donald Trump. What more can one say about this strange and fortunately occasional visitor to our shores, this caricature of comb-over, this halo of hairspray, this acme of the louche, the over-archingly ostentatious, and the straightforwardly vulgar?
The man is a joke. Already, the New York Daily News has characterised Trump – shown with clown make-up – as “Sideshow Don”. Alex Pareene in a Salon article has put it directly: “Donald Trump is patently ridiculous. He is transparently silly”.
Trump, perhaps expecting a little softball, appeared recently with Bill O’Reilly, top rated host of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) only to find that Bill-O didn’t buy his Obama “birther” spiel, instead gently ridiculing The Great Man. As Pareene puts it, “Donald Trump isn’t just a clown, he’s a sad clown”.
So it was with more than a little surprise that I read a blog in today’s Maily Telegraph under the by-line of Tim Stanley, supposedly a research fellow at Royal Holloway College. Stanley tells that Trump is “playing a clever game”, which is industrial strength drivel: another fine mess, Stanley. It’s not as if he wasn’t warned – the Salon article was written yesterday.The Telegraph piece suggests a clutching at straws. It speaks to a combination of uncertainty, of desperation, of foreboding – that Obama, no matter how much mud is slung his way by the GOP and its supporters, will swat aside the Republican nominee without so much as breaking sweat.