Short Relief: The Trump factor

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Donald Trump is not my first choice to be the Republican nominee for president.

But the infotainment industry’s alarm about his front-runner status is hard to take, considering their bias and the extent to which they are responsible for his success.

To see what I mean, start by comparing Trump to the last election’s Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.

Both are well-educated, successful businessmen. Trump also starred in 14 seasons of “The Apprentice” TV series, where ordinary people and celebrities vied for his approval.

Romney has been active in the Mormon Church as a member, missionary and leader. As a leader, he used his financial background to make sure his church was secure, and he ministered to many of its members.

Romney has been married to the same woman since 1969, his high school sweetheart. He stood by her through multiple sclerosis and cancer. They are parents to five boys.

Trump is a Presbyterian, but not particularly active in his church. He is proud to have dated mostly fashion models. He has been married three times, twice to models and once to an actress. He has five children.

Romney left business for public service. In 1994, he ran against Ted Kennedy for U.S. Senate and lost. In 1999, he went to work to salvage the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. After that, he became the Republican governor of Massachusetts. From 2003 to 2007, Romney eliminated a big deficit and reformed health care.

Donald Trump has never run for, or held, elected public office. He has supported Democratic and Republican candidates. In 2012, he endorsed Romney for president and questioned Barack Obama’s citizenship. Over the years, he has flirted with running for governor of New York and president of the United States.

In 2008, Romney declined to run for re-election in Massachusetts in favor of running for president, but he lost the nomination to Sen. John McCain. In 2014, Romney won the nomination, but lost control of his narrative.

Romney appeared to be the candidate from central casting. The media portrayed him as a heartless vulture capitalist who gutted businesses and issued pink slips. They dug up stories about him giving wedgies to classmates in prep school and forgetting the dog on the roof of the family car. During the second debate on foreign policy, moderator Candy Crowley misstated the record with regard to Benghazi in the president’s favor. Romney was too much of a gentleman to respond.

Trump is not restrained by etiquette. He does not show the media courtesy they do not deserve. He knows how they work. They attacked every Republican who started to rise in the polls: Christie for Bridgegate, Rubio for his spending habits, Fiorina for her secretary-to-CEO story, Carson for his claim of young-thuggishness, and so on.

The media has been trying to get Trump, but can’t help themselves from overreaching. He is contemptuous of them, doesn’t hesitate to express that distain, and loves the free media coverage. They in turn are fascinated, frustrated, and repulsed by him. They can’t resist covering him and attacking him. Trump does not allow the slightest slight to go unanswered. It has only added to his appeal. He announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination in June and has been the front runner since.

Take Trump’s position on Muslim immigration. The media mischaracterized it as a total, permanent ban and condemned it as unconstitutional, un-American and immoral. A significant number of people understood it as a not unreasonable attempt to address concerns they share, concerns the federal government has failed to address, and the media demeans.

The New York Times epitomizes the media’s finger-pointing. One column quoted several mental health professionals’ diagnoses of Trump’s supporters. They were angry and resentful, emasculated white males looking for a charismatic strongman to direct their primitive fight-or-flight response. Another described his supporters as stupid and uneducated. Yet another described Trump’s words as ominously echoing the demagogues of the last century. The Washington Post editorialized that Republicans were hateful bigots for supporting Trump.

Here’s a different idea.

Trump is a media creation. He is the product of screaming heads and reality TV, of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” “Survivor,” and “Real Housewives,” of news coverage that is biased, of candidate debates that are circuses, of years of covering campaigns as though they were horse races in which the only thing that matters is who’s ahead in the polls.

It may not be the only factor in Trump’s front-runner status, but it’s the one escaping media attention.

Halsey Frank is a Portland resident, attorney and former chairman of the Republican City Committee.

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  • Aliyah33

    Astute observations. Trump is, indeed, distraction at its best; pumped up by mainstream media (MSM). And when MSM goes to such lengths for distraction, I wonder – what’s the real news they’re attempting to distract us from?

    • jack bauer

      Couldn’t disagree more. DT has walked the walk…i.e. built many successful businesses and hired thousands of employees over many years.
      That accomplishment alone is very significant. Is it enough? No, of course not. He is one of the few candidates who will answer a question directly. Again, a rare commodity today. Additionally, he gives multiple at-length interviews per week fielding all sorts of questions on every subject under the sun. All without notes and teleprompters. Again, that’s a plus. DT has more attributes than that, of course, which has helped propel his candidacy to the top of the polls.

      • Aliyah33

        Trump’s passive-aggressive style, perhaps helpful in the types of businesses he’s had, is also a method to alienate people instead of working towards reasonable solutions. Hiring thousands of employees over many years is commendable, but sounds like in Trump’s businesses these were not necessarily high-paying, nor long-lasting employment for the majority of them. One of the first things that came to mind when you mentioned his business was – wonder how many bankruptcies, too? Here’s a quote I found by Fiorina; what she said makes sense:

        “You know, there are a lot of us Americans who believe that we are going to have trouble someday paying back the interest on our debt because politicians have run up mountains of debt using other people’s money,” Fiorina said. “That is in fact precisely the way you ran your casinos. You ran up mountains of debt, as well as losses, using other people’s money, and you were forced to file for bankruptcy not once, not twice, four times.”

      • Just Sayin’

        Trump’s financial legacy is a joke. If he had kept all of his inherited wealth and invested it in a mutual fund he would have earned greater returns than he has through the businesses he built.

        He’s had plenty of financial failures that aren’t evident only because he had the money on hand to deal with them quietly. If any of us had inherited the same amounts it too would have been easy to build successful businesses and hire thousands of people.

        There’s no reason, beyond listening to Trump’s own hot air, to believe that he will be looking out for anyone but himself should he get elected. He’s popular only because everyone is sick to death of standard insider politics, and he isn’t using the same spin doctors as everyone in Washington. Yes, he speaks his mind, but there’s little but greed and toxicity in there to listen to.

        He’s not interested in building a better america, just a shinier one with his name on the side and fewer taxes for him to pay.

      • drugsandkittens

        Trump’s a fascist and his followers are mental midgets who, in the history books of the future, will be cast in the same light as Hitler’s followers.

        • jack bauer

          Obviously, you’re going to have a tough time during Mr. Trump’s presidency. I wish you well.

          • drugsandkittens

            Yup — I’ll refuse to wear the black shirts and arm bands. Have fun with your hate movement, scumbag.

          • jack bauer

            No hate here, sir. But if you find it therapeutic to rant and hurl slurs, go for it.

          • drugsandkittens

            If you support Trump for president — you are part of a hate movement; to wit, you are part of the largest fascist movement in the US since the 1920s. Trump supporters should be treated the same as KKK members, neo-Nazis and their ilk.

  • Truth be told: Trump isn’t your “regular” presidential candidate, but then neither was Pisistratus. Trump, in many ways, reminds me of Pisistratus’ rapid rise to power in ancient Athens.

    According to the Greek historian, Herodotus: Pisistratus, during his campaign to become Athens’ new leader, came into town one day leading a magnificently adorned white horse, pulling an equally resplendent chariot, upon which stood a statuesque woman, looking for all the world to be Athena herself, the goddess of Athens. Who, Pisistratus, hastily explained to the gathering crowds, had just decreed that he should be made the king. Whereupon, he was promptly elected Athens’ new leader.

    Pisistratus, realizing he actually needed a real power base if he was going to consolidate his rule before his ruse with the woman from the neighboring village was publicly exposed, took the extraordinary step of turning to the common Athenians for support. By reducing their taxes and introducing free loans to allow the people to build up their farms — undermining the whole hierarchy of aristocrats and political elites of the day along the way — the Athenian economy grew by leaps and bounds and Pisistratus’ claim to leadership was never questioned.

    The same can be said of Trump. Trump is popular with independent, working, middle-class Americans because it gives them a chance to be their own power base rather than being the base of someone else’s power.