Donald Trump, a businessman perhaps most famous for being rich, has recently rocked the Republican field. His attacks on President Barack Obama have made news in a quiet news cycle. Polls, surprisingly, show Mr. Trump shooting up to second or first place amongst Republican voters.
I have just had the opportunity to watch several of these interviews with Mr. Trump. In general, I have come away decidedly unimpressed. Mr. Trump looks much older and a lot worse outside of his reality show. Indeed, it was actually a shock to see the difference between the image the man exudes (e.g. the pictures one sees of him on google images) and the reality.
Moreover, the interviews also show Mr. Trump is not a very good politician. He gets angry too often (something politicians should never do), for instance. His presentation clearly needs work.
All in all, it is hard to take Mr. Trump as a serious candidate. He is too much like former television star Fred Thompson: a candidate who was hyped as the new Ronald Reagan in 2008, but who in actuality performed far below expectations. It would be quite surprising if Mr. Trump did not flame out.
Let’s be clear on this point: Mr. Trump would be a terrible, terrible Republican candidate – and a terrible president besides. He is probably the only candidate in the Republican field who would do worse than former Governor Sarah Palin. Ms. Palin would probably win states like Kentucky and West Virginia, for instance. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is probably the only candidate in the Republican field who can get Kentuckians to vote for a big-city socialist.
Think about it. What is Donald Trump famous for?
He’s rich, and his favorite phrase is “You’re fired!” That’s not a resume most politicians want.
One reason states like West Virginia used to be Democratic was that populist Democrats could tap the white working-class vein of dislike for rich corporate executives. As the Democratic Party has moved away from that type of populism (see John Kerry, Barack Obama) places like West Virginia have shifted Republican.
But Trump is the very epitome of rich corporate executive, and being famous for firing people is probably not going to endear him to the working class. It’s hard to imagine a West Virginia coal miner ever voting for a guy like Donald Trump.
Whatever the faults of Republican candidates such as Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty, they would make far better presidents than Mr. Trump. Republican voters would do well to consider a more serious candidate than the joke that is Donald Trump.