It started when the nine-year-old in our family misheard Donald Trump’s name and called him, with disgust and outrage, Donald O’Trump. She hasn’t been the only one disgusted and outraged. Globe columnists, Times columnists, television commentators have been spewing disbelief, abhorrence, indignation and revulsion. They parse his “policies” as if they actually mean something.
At some point, I started laughing. These people are so steamed up. They’re taking Donald O’Trump seriously.
I’ve got news for them. He’s spoofing. He’s taking us for a ride. He’s making fun of the Republican candidates, mocking them. He’s exposing the hard-core Republican electorate for what it is. He’s trumped us, and he’s laughing all the way to the primary. Calling him O’Trump is my way of honoring the half-aware guise he has taken on.
His modus operandi, perhaps unconsciously, has been to take Republicans’ prejudices and perversions to the max. Consider immigration. A couple of years ago US Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, said, “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s [sic] another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds, and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
No one in O’Trump’s party called out King for that remark, and there was little comment from the Republican presidential candidates when Trump accused Mexican immigrants of being rapists and criminals. They finally pushed back only when Trump demeaned Sen. John McCain’s war record—a suspect reaction since some of those same people had no trouble demeaning John Kerry’s war record in 2004. Criticizing immigrants pushed up O’Trump’s poll numbers, and mocking McCain didn’t hurt him.
Women? There is another topic that could get Trump in trouble but hasn’t. He has taken the insulting attitudes toward women displayed by several of the candidates and simply exaggerated them. Some of the Republican presidential-hopefuls have fought vigorously to restrict contraception and abortion, apparently believing American women’s only task is reproduction, which they can’t manage without government interference. Trump’s put-down of Megyn Kelly is no different from the insulting attitudes toward women displayed by such women-demeaners as Rick Santorum and his fellow travelers.
I haven’t the imagination to come up with the future shenanigans O’Trump is capable of.
That’s because he doesn’t know himself. He’s having a good time. He loves getting people steamed up. I suspect several of the Republican presidential candidates didn’t give him enough respect in the past year or two, so his “candidacy” might have been sparked by a bit of revenge on his part.
Now however, it’s just fun. He has nothing to lose. He was bored with his life—he’s made plenty of money and his empire is led by others who are able, so he had little to do. He might not have expected to be so popular when he got into the race, but now he’s enjoying a little payback along with causing a jolt to the system.
He signed a pledge to support the Republican candidate. But can’t you just imagine some candidate annoying him enough to cause him to renege on that promise?
Does O’Trump really want to be president? Doubtful. It’s a serious job and hard. But being a candidate is not hard or serious—just look at the Republican presidential candidates, of which only two, maybe three, are actual grown-ups. O’Trump is taking a cue from them and ramping it up.
Some in my family say O’Trump is not smart or ironic enough to invent such a plan. My answer is that it doesn’t take much intelligence. It takes only a need for distraction and fun. His “campaign” is not carefully crafted, but for his purposes it doesn’t need to be.
I don’t know how long O’Trump will be entertained by his public venture. I don’t know how long enough of the public will support him. I don’t know what his exit strategy will be. But the long campaign was boring even for a political junkie like me.