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The conversation: Donald Trump's a 'blowhard' -- and just what conservatives are craving

April 21, 2011 |  1:34 pm

Trump

Is businessman-turned-reality-TV-star Donald Trump serious about running for president, or is this just his latest feather-ruffling media stunt? Whether Trump genuinely believes Barack Obama will go down in history as the worst U.S. president (after he said something similar about George W. Bush when he was still leaning left) and thinks he'd do a better job as leader of the free world, or whether he's just trying to use his celebrity platform to get his message across, one thing is for sure: His theatrics are like candy for the most Obama-phobic conservatives. And for that, he's worth paying attention to.

What is Trump's motive?

It is not so much that the Republicans are irrational. It is that they are delusional. The United States has serious problems. When I turn on the television and Trump is not there, I see Republican officials arguing that the country is going broke and the way to fix that is to stop paying taxes. I am no great economist, certainly not as smart as Trump says he is, but I do suspect there is something toxic about trying to balance budgets by rejecting revenue increases and working only on the expenditure side. Could it be that the Republicans are trying to destroy government and turn the country over to Goldman Sachs and its little mascot, Trumpie?

--Richard Reeves, truthdig

The attraction to Trump, explained

Still, I understand why the Republican electorate is so fickle. The GOP field is boring and cautious (though boring is an asset in a matchup against Barack Obama), while Trump is entertaining and seems fearless. It's fun to watch the media fall for Trump's act and the White House seethe over his "birther" crusade.

So have your fun. But remember the next election is a very serious thing, and with a Trump candidacy, the joke will be on us.

--Jonah Goldberg, Los Angeles Times

He's an entertainer

Well look I think that he is a little bit wild. A little bit ... some have compared him to P.T. Barnum and the rise of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. He is one of the great showman of our lifetime. He is very clever at getting news media attention. And he's in his “Apprentice” candidate phase. That's fine. He brings a level of excitement and life -- a lot more folks will talk about the Republican ticket in the next few weeks because of Donald Trump. I'm all for him being an active Republican, then at some point he's got to settle down.... But for the moment it's a bit like watching American Idol. We have the newest guest star.

--Newt Gingrich via ThinkProgress

He's a blowhard

Very few people have the luxury of being freely obnoxious. Most people have to watch what they say for fear of offending their bosses and colleagues. Others resist saying anything that might make them unpopular.

But, in every society, there are a few rare souls who rise above subservience, insecurity and concern. Each morning they take their own abrasive urges out for parade. They are so impressed by their achievements, so often reminded of their own obvious rightness, that every stray thought and synaptic ripple comes bursting out of their mouth fortified by impregnable certitude. When they have achieved this status they have entered the realm of Upper Blowhardia.

These supremely accomplished blowhards offend some but also arouse intense loyalty in others. Their followers enjoy the brassiness of it all. They live vicariously through their hero's assertiveness. They delight in hearing those obnoxious things that others are only permitted to think.  […]

But I do insist that Trump is no joke. He emerges from deep currents in our culture, and he is tapping into powerful sections of the national fantasy life. I would never vote for him, but I would never want to live in a country without people like him.

--David Brooks, New York Times

He's the new Howard Dean

Trump is the new Dean. But The Donald is Dean on steroids. He is Jimmy Carter telling the liberal/Kennedy wing of the Democratic Party, "Kiss my a--." […]

Trump realizes the GOP faithful have lost faith in their own party. They want someone the establishment doesn't. Palin had it right -- they want someone to "go rogue." However she proved to be all hat and no cowgirl. She can talk the talk -- but can't walk the walk.

--Paul Goldman, Politico

He's the Al Sharpton of the GOP presidential primary contest

"Then there is Trump," he continued. "Trump is Al Sharpton of the Republican Party -- provocateur and clown, unserious. I think he's going to harm the party if he runs for the same reason Sharpton harmed the Democrats. I can now see all the mail coming in -- address it to me, not to Bret. He is not responsibility .[...] I think he will run, not just a trial run. He'll be up in the debate, and like Sharpton he will monopolize discussion and draw it away on issues that are irrelevant like Obama's birth and that can only hurt the party."

--Columnist Charles Krauthammer via The Daily Caller

Trump makes Ross Perot look like an intellectual heavyweight

Donald Trump, in other words, is, when it comes to politics, shallow, inconsistent, egotistical, and buffoonish. By comparison he makes Ross Perot seem substantial, well-informed, and stable. Right now Trump's support is based on a combination of name recognition, his skill at self-promotion, and his perceived tough talk. But once Republican and conservative voters begin to peek behind the curtain, this silly game will be over. Trump's support will evaporate like the morning mist.

--Peter Wehner, Commentary

Trump offers what conservatives crave

If Trump is pushed out of the limelight or off the campaign trail by the conservative establishment, or by his own erratic record on a host of issues, the atavistic longings of the rank-and-file conservative base will simply affix themselves elsewhere as other candidates try to tap the rich vein of anger he's helped galvanize. And if he survives the pounding he's about to get from respectable opinion, then George Will is right: He will make a "shambles" of every Republican presidential debate. But that's not only because he's an eccentric demagogue who is willing to say just about anything for attention. It's also because he's exactly what conservative voters crave. 

--Ed Kilgore, The New Republic 

What Republican voters are trying to say

"It means this Republican nomination is still wide open -- as wide open as any we've ever seen," said Scott Reed, who managed Bob Dole's unsuccessful 1996 campaign.

Less politely, it means that none of the potential candidates now testing the waters --Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, to name the most prominent -- has caught fire yet. The GOP voters who told pollsters they would favor Trump listened to that list of names and replied, in effect, "none of the above." 

--Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

He will have a lasting appeal with unsophisticated people

"I think the Republican party ... is not the George Will party of the cerebral, let's look at the issues, reduce the deficit. It's become -– I’m not saying necessarily an ethnic party -– but a kind of a crazy, tribalist, let's get those people, we don't like Obama, we'll throw what we can at him. They're so angry they don't want to think."

--Chris Matthews via Mediaite

But will people actually vote for him?

But whether he runs or not -- and the betting here is that he won't -- Trump will never be president. His novelty act has filled a pre-campaign vacuum, but he is simply not a serious political figure. Over time, that would become blindingly apparent.

Being a braggart and a buffoon isn't a hindrance to wealth, and may actually abet celebrity. But those aren't qualities intelligent voters want in a president -- or ones they'll reward in a candidate.

--Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe

It’s time to start taking Trump seriously

The consensus is that Trump is not really running -– that this is just another of his over-the-top publicity stunts. In the unlikely event that he goes through with a semi-serious candidacy, the political establishment seems to believe, he'll never win the nomination. These skeptics scoff when it's pointed out that stranger things have happened. Name one, they say.  […]

What he's been, consistently, is a headline-grabber extraordinaire. If he now has decided to take himself seriously, I'm afraid we're going to have to follow suit.

--Eugene Robinson, Sacramento Bee

RELATED:

'Tea party' tango

Why Sarah Palin doesn't get what she deserves

Mitch Daniels: Debt and a tough-talking governor

On the GOP menu for 2012

If Trump is serious, he should learn a few basic economic policies

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Donald Trump attends the south Florida "tea party's" third annual tax day rally April 16 at Sanborn Square in Boca Raton. Credit: Gary Coronado / Palm Beach Post

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