Like anyone with a brain, I have been flummoxed by the sensational rise of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. In Donald McGrath’s New Yorker piece, We Have a Serious Problem, it was surmised that Trump was trying to bow out of the race asap: “’I said that Megyn Kelly was menstruating. I insulted Carly Fiorina’s face. I did a routine about Ben Carson’s belt that should have provoked a psychiatric intervention. I proposed internment camps for the Muslims already here, and you’re telling me that my numbers are what?’” Others have theorized that the American electorate always oscillates between extremes, making the bombastic Trump an ideal follow-up to Obama’s taciturn manner. But still…Donald Trump? The businessman who has spun his bankruptcies as “facts of life”? The guy who says whatever pops into his mind? That guy?The reality television star whose tag-line is “You’re fired”? It’s not possible. Is it? I admit to being transfixed by Trump’s pontificating, his meandering monologues that emphasize ADHD more than repetitive policy. He delivered a classic on Saturday, February 27 in Bentonville, Arkansas, stumping for the Super Tuesday primaries. He started with an attack on The New York Times for their stories against him: It’s the worst newspaper. It is a dead newspaper going out of business. These are really bad people. These are really bad.
He mused on how he might behave in the White House: The president is calling an air conditioning company. I may make some of the calls. They’re going to say it’s terribly un-presidential, but I don’t care, all right?
He reflected on the game of politics: They’re all playing games, folks. It’s cute, it’s fun. It’s life. It’s the way life is, OK, it’s the way life is.He explained why he is the best choice: I went to the Wharton School of Finance, which is considered the best business school. You’ve got to be very smart to get into that school, very smart. The Rubios of the world could not get into that school, believe me. They don’t have the capacity. But I go to Wharton, I’m smart. You’re smart. But you don’t have to be smart.
It hit me me like a Trumpism. I’ve been thinking about this all wrong. I have believed that Donald Trump was running for president, actually running for office. But that’s not it at all. It’s a ruse. Trump isn’t campaigning for president. His statement is much bigger picture than that. He is on a tour not for political office but as a performance artist, on the greatest comedy tour of all time. He has amalgamated the bitter monologues of Lenny Bruce with the explosive delivery of Lewis Black and the unwavering hucksterism of Andy Kaufman to create a character for the ages – Donald Who Would Be Chief. And we don’t even know it yet. Because he hasn’t told us. There’s been no reveal. Nothing. There may never be. That’s genius, right? Truly beyond belief. No doubt about that. As long as he doesn’t take this tour thing around the world. That could be bad…really, really bad. His shtick might go over their heads.