By Sal Bommarito
The presidential primaries are ramping up as we approach the Iowa caucuses on February 1st.
Donald Trump continues to hold a commanding lead in the national polls, although Ted Cruz is challenging him for Iowa delegates.
Why has the American electorate been so enamored with Trump?
From my perspective, Trump is brash, confident and courageous. Courageous? Yes, he is unafraid to discuss the most sensitive and controversial issues impacting America without concern that political incorrectness will derail his political aspirations. Trump frequently drills deep into controversies that weigh heavily on the minds of Americans, but are never surfaced by them for fear of being a labeled bigot, misogynist or xenophobe.
Yet, even Trump supporters are frightened by the possibility that “the Donald” may be negotiating with Russia, China, the European Union, Mexico and the ayatollahs one year from now.
This reticence is based upon the fact that Trump does not fit our image of an American president. Historically, these men have been gentlemanly, tactful, intellectual and religious. Trump is a blood and guts real estate developer with a spotty history that he challenges anyone, the media and his opponents, to dispute.
The polls show that less educated and younger Republicans are most attracted to Trump’s swagger because he has not been tainted by Washington political canon. Trump is always in everybody’s face and seemingly oblivious to naysayers. A most frequent comment by the Donald is: “If you don’t think I can’t be president, look at the polls. I’m leading every one of my competitors.”
Most former presidents have had at least some political experience. Deals made in the White House and with Congress are not the same as deals negotiated in Trump Tower for the construction of a new building or a shopping mall. The players in skyscraper transactions are very different than those negotiating nuclear non-proliferation treaties.
We all know there are thugs that lead countries in the world. I suspect Trump will be adept at dealing with tough guys. Some of these street fighters have nuclear weapons at their disposal, so being a master at this negotiating art form could prove to be very helpful.
Exclusively well-bred and diplomatic participants need not manage all peace negotiations. Maybe, a much more aggressive person like Trump, as opposed to Obama, could make some headway reigning in the likes of Vladimir Putin, Bashar al Assad, Kim Jong-un and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Barack Obama is the polar opposite of Trump. The former avoids confrontation, while Trump relishes the opportunity to mix it up. Obama is cerebral, deliberate and insular, while Trump shoots from the hip and wants the whole world to know what he’s up to. One important comment made by Trump indicated that he was intent on finding the best people to advise him. This separates him from Obama who appears to make all decisions with very little outside expertise.
Trump is the kind of person who cannot bear to have an important issue unresolved. Then again, a real estate problem is easier to resolve than a brewing international crisis. I doubt Trump’s bellicose style will be an asset if he has to decide whether to put our GIs in harm’s way.
From the beginning of this crazy political cycle, I thought Trump was just looking to promote himself. He is the ultimate salesman who bullies his way into the spotlight. The Donald wants to be photographed with beautiful women and powerful people. The Clintons attended his third marriage. Why? I have no idea.
On one important issue facing the nation, Trump has been truly outspoken and indelicate. His stance on immigration has catapulted him into the limelight. Trump wants to send undocumented Mexicans back to their homeland, and he wants to suspend the immigration of all Arabs from Middle Eastern “hot spots” until the radical Islamic crisis is put to rest; that’s going to take a long time.
A very successful tactic of Trump has been to dare any opponent to challenge his ability, sincerity, business acumen or honesty. Those who have questioned him in sensitive areas have experienced unbridled anger and retribution. Generally, his Republican competitors are afraid of incurring his wrath.
Frankly, I think the Trump candidacy for president is like a bad joke. He should not be elected to the most powerful position in the world, except that millions of Americans want to vote for him. I’ve said that I’m ashamed that Trump may be the best candidate we have in the Republican Party, but his lead in the polls makes me question my judgment on this matter.
Many are still predicting that voters will come to their senses before it’s time to pull a lever. Well, I’ve been waiting anxiously for this, and it hasn’t happened.
Trump told us in his autobiographical books that he is the consummate deal maker, and he will reason with Congress and world leaders to bring back the glory days of America. No doubt, the man is a successful businessperson. But, what does he know about making deals in Washington and on an international stage?
I’m a Republican. Yet, I’m truly undecided in a likely contest between the Donald and Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, one of them is likely to be our next president. I can only hope for an unforeseen event or misstep that allows a more qualified Republican to gain the nomination.