Trump: from here to obscurity
To the Editor:
You are reading it here first -- and probably not anywhere else (until after it happens):
Trump is not running for president and he will not in fact win a single caucus or primary contest in Iowa or New Hampshire or anywhere else.
I write this despite his recent increasing poll numbers which currently place him ahead of a crowded field of candidates that will in fact grow even larger in the days just ahead.
What's more, it is widely assumed that his appeal will only increase following the first televised Fox News debate next month, where only ten candidates will be allowed on the stage, thus marginalizing the rest of the field, producing a less competitive environment.
So why is Trump headed for political obscurity?
First, Trump's appeal, based on his extreme immigration comments, has been basically to what Sen. John McCain recently described as the "crazies" in the party. That segment has traditionally been seen as comprising only 15 to 20 percent of only the GOP base, roughly the same percentage of party voters Trump attracts in the polls -- no matter how many (or how few) he's up against.
My guess is that this is Trump's ceiling of support, not his floor. And as the field of viable candidates begins to consolidate, even those voters will likely move toward the electable center, supporting the likes of Jeb Bush or Scott Walker, rather than further to the fringe, which is increasingly the exclusive purview of Trump.
And then, of course, there is also his mixed personal history. In the last decade Trump was a Democrat before embracing for the second time the GOP. He has been pro-choice on the abortion issue, married three times and in bankruptcy more than once, to name only a few of his inconvenient "lapses".
Yet beyond all this, Trump has one fatal flaw that trumps (sorry, couldn't resist) all others. As strongly as he might imagine himself as president, what he can't imagine is the perception of himself as a loser, which he will be if he fails in that quest.
Yet for all his current claims to "spend whatever it takes to win," in this arena he will be a loser. Everyone knows that and he knows everyone knows that. And it is this collective perception which will require him to depart the race.
So the fact (the real fact) is: Trump is not actually running for president. As president, for starters, he'd have to take a sharp cut in pay (while placing his assets in a blind trust) for at least four years! No way.
Rather, Trump is simply running to fulfill the latest iteration of whomever it is he currently sees himself as. The consequences for his party be damned.
But what's the worst that can happen?
He could repair the break with NBC and return to firing TV contestants, just as his fellow Republicans will have fired him.