The Thursday Blog: Bad Hair Day Edition

It’s a big field right now for the Republicans in 2012. At the moment, thirteen candidates have formally tossed their hats in the ring, and another eight are hedging up to it. One of those eight is Donald Trump, currently tied for first place with Mike Huckabee at 16% of the overall Republican vote. (April 15-20 Gallup poll. Huckabee leads among conservative Republicans, Trump among moderate to liberals.)

A year and a half out, polls are nearly worthless, and historically, the “entertainment value” candidates always decline in popularity as elections grow closer. While I certainly could be wrong, I personally don’t even think that Trump actually intends to run for president. He has said that he intends to declare one way or the other on the season finale of The Apprentice, which could mean all his talk thus far has just been advertising for his show.

But it might not be. As a way of attracting attention, Trump has dramatically ratcheted up the Birther crazy. (The oft-disproven notion that President Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore illegitimate as leader of the country.) Now when my extremely partisan and barely computer literate aunt writes me to ask why a Nigerian is sitting in the White House, I kind of understand it. She’s not a bad person, per se, but her world view is more narrow than most, lit in hues of Good vs. Democrat, doesn’t fully understand the phenomena of email-driven mythology, and is more than a trifle racist. She lives on a small ranch and spends her days with horses, dogs, and grandchildren. (I love her dearly.) Trump however, is a “titan of industry”. He lives on knowing the right answer before anyone else, and has all the resources necessary to always do so. He is worldly, curious, and intellectually expansive. I would posit that there is literally no chance at all that Trump actually believes any of the Birther nonsense he has been spouting. (His deliberately vague and elusive answers when asked for evidence and in the face of conflicting evidence seem to back this up.) So why then is he doing it?

Answer one: He wants to be President and thinks this is the way to do it. Downside: Thus far, conspiracy theories have not placed any U.S. presidents. When people walk into the ballot booth, they tend to shy away from handing over the nuclear weaponry to the craziest guy on the list.

Answer Two: He wants to make TV history with the biggest audience for a television show ever, and rake in the advertising dollars. Downside: None, really. Trump already has a reputation as a huckster and showboat, so this would hardly harm him, and he might make some bucks from it.

Answer Three: Mobilizing the Republican base. Downside: Again, nothing here to lose. He gets all the benefits from number two, plus, he has stirred up the wack-a-doos in the party who will now pick a more sane-looking candidate after Trump bails, who doesn’t have to threaten his or her own chances by actively courting these people and aping their theories. Trump’s strategy here is to essentially campaign not so much for himself, but for the Republican ticket. If he can secure the crazies and then back out, the frontrunner can look to the moderates who generally end up deciding the race. Whichever Republican wins is likely to be more pro-business than a populist Democrat, and may well be specifically pro-Trump. The potential monetary fallout from this line of thinking vastly eclipses anything to be gained by eighty-eight minutes of TV.

If this is Trump’s thinking, will it work? Maybe, maybe not. He’s making a big splash now, but seventeen months is an eternity in politician years. Of course there may be some endgame we haven’t seen yet. Time will tell. On the opposing side seem to be the Tea Partiers themselves. Organized around the concept of moving against the Affordable Healthcare Act, the Tea Party has put a large number of ideologically extreme governors in power across the country. These individuals have, solely by keeping their campaign promises, managed to alienate vast swathes of Republicans who voted for the “R”, without paying too much attention to the actual man behind it. This could very well result in a centrist push that would solidify Obama’s seat, and keep him in the White House for another four years.

I personally never thought much of Obama’s chances for a second term, and I’m still not sure. It does however, seem less unlikely than it used to. Even if Trump is doing exactly what I’m positing, Tea Partiers are notoriously difficult to corral, and may decide to walk away from the process rather than vote for a less fringey candidate. Or should I say, a candidate with less fringe.


41 Responses to The Thursday Blog: Bad Hair Day Edition

  1. I hope Obama gets re-elected, he’s good for laughs, and I kinda got tired of the USA being in any position of power anyway.
    All hail Russia/China!

    Oh, and even if Trump was serious about it, which I can’t take seriously, he wouldn’t stand a chance, being a wealthy industrialist. It would be all too easy to imply he’s corrupt etc.

    • The USA losing their self-proclaimed place as the number 1 global superpower has nothing to do with Obama, and everything to do with how empires rise and decline, and corruption the roots of which go back to the 1930s.

      • I am positive, Christina, that you could trace things back to the beginning of human history if you halfway tried. Corruption and collusion are simply a condition of the human animal, present wherever there are people. They’re simply wired that way for survival.

        • If I had to guess the corruption she’s referring to is the way that politics in America used to be something that nearly everybody believed should include a separation between church and state. The in-god-we-trust pandering didn’t really begin until everybody started being scared of the USSR and needed some way to say that they were different, scary and insane. Tolerance and protection of religion was drafted under the notion of freedom of religion, and things went downhill from there.

          • Really? I was under the impression that, if anything, the USA as a whole has become more secular as the years went by. I think this is more of a case of looking back and seeing roses instead the crucifixes, the way nostalgia works.

      • Of course there’s a decline, but somebody seems to actively try and tear the USA down from any position of power/respect in the world with his slinking, indecisiveness and double-standards.

  2. Obama isn’t that funny, now PALIN as VP would have been hilarious. Sadly McCain lost the election. Vote for the lols, says I. Even the birth issue isn’t all that unique. We could have also had epic lols with McCain, who is PROVEN to have been born in a foreign country.

    • With Obama the joke is mainly on the voters and their “Yes, we can!” mantra, not about a “colorful” accent.
      A disappointment even for me, and I never believed in any of his cheap cliches in the first place.
      A mediocre president only distinguished by fact he’s black(and a disappointment at that as well, you’d hope he’d be memorable beyond his skin color), who can’t act decisively or consistently, abandons his allies(granted, corrupt and evil as some of them are…which didn’t stop him from kissing their asses a year or two prior to that) on the basis of their behavior yet ignores others acting the same/worse.
      He’s a slimy weasel, the very picture of the two-timing, boneless politician. Ideals my ass.

    • Obama said that McCain’s birthplace was irrelevant, and agreed not to discuss it. But you are right, it would have been a much more complicated issue for him.

      • The way I understand it, McCain was born in a military hospital in the Canal Zone, to parents who were American citizens stationed at that base. It has long been the rule that children born abroad to parents who are American citizens are considered “natural born” Americans. Thus for McCain, I don’t think it should have constituted an issue at all.

        Would not the same rule apply to Obama, since as far as I know, his mother is American, even if he had been born in Kenya and not Hawaii as his birth certificate shows?

        I’ve been laughing at the “birthers” for over two years now. Give it a rest already. I’m not an Obama lover, but I do wish people would focus this energy into solving some real issues.

        • Yes, he was born to an American citizen in a US state. There is no argument. Besides his facial structure does not match that of a Nigerian at all, they have much more pronounced forheads, brow ridges, and chins. My wifes’ (soon!) sister is married to one. Yes he is a bit frightening in the dark… could just be him though.

        • I’m not super-familiar with the details of McCain’s birth, (nor do I ever expect to be) but I have heard from multiple sources on both sides of the divide that if anyone had wanted to toss a monkey wrench in, it could have caused a much more real problem than what is going on with Obama.

          As far as baby Barry being a citizen through his mother… I have to admit I have no idea. That certainly sounds plausible though.

          It’d be nice if this were the last we’d heard of the Birthers, but I doubt it. Movements like this will ignore facts that are inconvenient to them, and I expect the release of the document they’ve been asking for will fall squarely into this category.

  3. Did we ever get to see George W Bush’s birth certificate? If not why not? I’m not saying he wasn’t born in the USA, I’m just saying until we see a birth certificate there’s a question to be answered…

    • You mean he’s a clone? Or “fell from a gallopping pig” (don’t know if there are similar expressions in english 😉 ?

    • This is a good question.

      I think it’s typically human (and absolutely not specific to America) that, despite the evidence, people still think of Obama as a non-american because of his skin color, while they wouldn’t even ask that question of a white candidate that may very well be born in another country.

      For another point of view and a kind of reverse case, France would never elect a president whose grandparents were algerian, because he would be seen as one of these strangers that invade us, rape our furniture and steal our wives, yet they elected sarkozy, totally oblivious that his father came from Hongria.
      Simply put (and I think that, for this, we are way worse than americans), if your president is white, it’s ok, but if he doesn’t look like a wasp, some people will always think of him as a stranger.


      • Source? Not that I’m disagreeing with you. It would just be helpful to have next time this comes up at the family dinner or what-not.

        • I did a VERY cursory search, and the only thing I found was a ranty birther site that had an interview with a purported FBI agent. The agent said that background checks were not routinely performed on elected officials before granting them their security clearances, because a democratically elected official is installed by the people of the country, and the clearance is part of that. He went on to make the point that the scouring a presidential candidates background gets in the course of an election is many times more thorough than anything the FBI could ever accomplish.

          My advice however, is not to talk politics at dinner.

  4. I totally forgot, none of this stuff is important! And no, not because my evil master-plan for world-domination/destruction has come to its final phase(it’s still quite a ways, I’m afraid).
    It’s because Kong is dead.

  5. Wait, first he’s a Kenian, now he’s a Nigerian….? I’m so confused. But hey, all those Africans are the same, right? {sarcasm} 🙄

  6. I’ll admit this;

    The american political landscape is at times more than a little confusing to us non-americans.

    …then again, maybe it is just me… 🙄

    • If they weren’t following it like drunken sports-fans who don’t care what’s happening (as long as they’re cheering at the right times) it would be just as confusing for Americans.

  7. I have only had the misfortune of having to listen to 2 teaparty candidates talking to a small gathering (in golden corral both times). Both times the went to great lengths the stir up the audience to the dangers of Islam with an extensive (if somewhat edited) history of middle eastern culture and a rather narrow and edited synopsis of the qur’an. As the speakers say” I only refer to this part as this is the part that matters”. The most terrifying part of these meeting to me is when the speakers say. This county (U.S.) is 75% evangelical christian and it is time for us to take it back. Where does that leave the rest of us? Since I am not a christian am I supposed to leave the land of my birth, the land that claim religious tolerance, just so a party of fanatics can take over the country? I think not. Even if I not agree with everything Islamic, I don’t deny their rights. Heck I am a Wiccan and I don’t agree with everything Wiccan (have you ever seen me skyclad? scary!)

    • Considering that “Wicca” was invented in the 60s by mashing together folk superstitions from dozens of different traditions and then trying to claim it was ancient because some very few of those folk superstitions were old (Come on, Mixing European Tarot cards and astrology with Native American Animism and Shamanism, and making up some brand new Enviromentalist deities isn’t an “old” religion, it’s a new one…it’s like trying to claim that Jesus was Captain Planet in disguise), I would be somewhat hesitant to try to play Theologean with a religion you obviously know Nothing about

      It is a solid fact that there is a rule in Islam that the earlier parts of their book, which mentions being nice to Jews an Christians, are completely reversed by the later parts of the book…you know, the “Jews are apes and pigs” parts. So you can’t quote those earlier parts and ignore the parts that, by the rules of their religion, completely replace and negate those parts.

      • it is a solid fact that there are also rules in the first part of the bible that are directly opposed by rules in the second half.
        Heck the 4 gospels are by 4 guys that saw the same thing and told 4 different stories that even though that had some of the same points they really could be seen different ways by different congregations. Man in flawed, so it stand to reason man can’t write any book that is going to be perfect. Btw, the modern day bible is so different from what is was with all the corrections and edits done over the centuries that Christianity is not nearly as ancient a religion as Christian claim either!

        • The bible was written by a lot of different people who were trying to emphasize different lessons, even within the same stories. All of it was put down considerably after the fact, well outside the lifetimes of any possible participants of any of its happenings. It is helpful to think of it less as a rulebook, and more of a simple collection of stories, or even sermons.

          • True. But it’s also true that most Christian belief systems hold that the “New Testment” overrides the “Old Testament” in all places where they disagree.

      • Wicca has been practised in some Northumbrian villages (in the UK) for centuries. Maybe the version practiced in America is a 60’s mishmash, but it’s been around in Europe as a coherent belief system a lot longer than that.

        • No, Wicca was completely invented in the 60s…what was practiced in the UK for centuries is a very small subset of what the Hippies mishmashed together to call ‘Wicca’ much much later.

          Guess they just wanted to be known as the “Wicca’ed Witches of the West”

  8. Trump has definitely demonstrated that he is capable of slinging enough bullshit to fully qualify for the office of president of the U.S.
    Wicca as it is now in America is mostly covens started in the 60s or later…
    …except for all the other ones that date all the way back through U.S. history to the bajillions of villages in Europe that HAVE NEVER STOPPED. Crowley and Blavatsky are quite a bit older than the 60s, just to name the famous ones. Washington, Franklin, and Newton were practicing wizards, at least in their own fucking opinions.

    • if you look at my origional post all I did was state I was Wiccan. I never said it was the 1st religion or anything, in fact I said nothing claiming a long tradition. I just made a joke about me being skyclad. I never said I was a theologian, I just stated that if you clearly state “I only refer to this part of the Qu’ran because it is the only part that is important” than you are obviously trying to only give a one-sided and biased view. The average person running for city counsel was a political science degree or something similar, not a religious degree. They should not be presenting their ‘beliefs’ as facts. Bigotry belongs in the past. If you want to hate an individual, do so, just don’t hate a group only for their membership.