In ancient Greece, Odysseus gave the city of Troy a magnificent, larger than life gift of a wooden horse. Though it appeared solid from the outside, it was hollow and contained the seeds of Troy’s destruction.
Are conservatives succumbing to the same temptation in being charmed by another larger than life but possibly hollow gift known as “The Donald?”
Conservatives are waging political war over the direction of this country, with Obama and the Democrats on one side, and the Tea Party, movement conservatives, and establishment Republicans loosely allied on the other. In the 2010 elections, the Tea Party shifted the momentum, but the greater challenge of 2012 awaits and conservatives are seeking one electable champion who can carry the banner of their cause.
Enter Donald Trump. A charismatic, larger than life figure with billions to spare and a refreshing willingness to speak his mind, Trump has the confidence of a champion.
And Trump has been omnipresent in the media. He has lamented the Obama administration’s failure to demand respect for the United States. He has promised that China and other powers would be brought to heel under a Trump presidency, and assured Americans that he would create jobs and reverse course on our out of control spending. Trump has proudly displayed his wealth and achievements and argued that they are the best qualifications of any candidate seeking the office.
But the issue he is generating the most debate about is President Obama’s birth certificate.
This should have conservatives asking: Is this gift what it appears to be?
Trump’s rhetoric seems to be refreshingly blunt and honest. But it may not be all that it first appears. Judging from the available evidence Trump, like the Trojan horse of long ago, may be a gift representing strength on the outside, hollowness on the inside, and carry within a threat that could hand the 2012 victory to Obama.
Trump has donated heavily to Democrats and Democratic causes. To be fair, it appears that he’s given heavily to both sides of the political aisle. Bipartisan campaign greasing is the way in which access is gained and is what one might expect from someone with so many interests, but Atlas Shrugged it is not.
Trump has praised the wisdom of Nancy Pelosi, denounced George W. Bush as “evil,” flip-flopped on abortion and, as David Weigel recently pointed out in Slate, promoted government-run health care in his book, The America We Deserve. Of course, changing your mind in the conservative direction is not a bad thing. But running on government-run health care can be a stumbling block to the GOP nomination—just ask Mitt Romney. (Of course, opposing it doesn’t guarantee you a Republican nomination these days either—just ask Rep. Mike Castle.)
Trump’s all over the map history in politics suggests that while he might be a multi-talented, brilliant businessman, he lacks a philosophical compass. It doesn’t bode well that, according to ABC News, Trump’s chief political adviser is an Obama-voting Democrat who once volunteered for the Dukakis campaign. While one might take comfort in the fact that Trump seems to recognize the economic crisis the nation is in, it’s a little akin to arguing that your vision is fine because you can see the Goodyear blimp coasting above at 50 feet in the air on a clear, cloudless day. Right now, the problem the nation faces is fairly obvious, when it’s less obvious, what would Trump do? Who would guide him?
And if Trump really did want to get into the presidential race and champion the free market, challenge Obama's runaway spending, and reclaim America’s position in the world, why would he spend so much time stoking up interest in the president's birth certificate? The "issue," if it ever was one, was decided by Hawaii. But even if one were to believe that the newspaper announcements of Obama's birth were faked at the time due to a conspiracy and a 40-year foreknowledge that the child born on that day would get the opportunity to run against a candidate who would use the economic crisis of a lifetime to "suspend his campaign" and ask his opponent what to do about it, how is that relevant now? Elections have consequences, and Obama is president.
The more Obama’s opponents talk about it, the kookier it makes them look, and the more it distracts from the issues the media doesn’t like to cover, such as the president’s spending and Obamacare.
Conservatives may relish in Trump’s defiance of political correctness and his refusal to back down, but Trump is driving the overall 2012 conversation right now. Already we see other candidates being dragged down into the absurdity, while the obscenity of the president’s spending plans plays second fiddle.
Trump is a compelling man, a wildly successful entrepreneur, and has gravitas and charisma to spare—but he’s not proving himself to be a candidate with the political agility to beat Obama. Trump appears blinded by his admiration for his own bold defiance on the “birther” issue, while oblivious to its effect—the orchestration of a political twofer for the Obama administration that serves as both a distraction from Obama’s vulnerable issues and diminished potential Republican challengers. Trump has plunged headlong into this effort as effectively as if he were a puppet on their strings. And the fact of Trump’s wealth doesn’t mean he’s necessarily the best man for the job any more than it means Bill Gates would be an even better man for the job. Political incentives and tactics are not always the same as those in business.
President Obama will start off with the advantages of incumbency, vast sums of money, and an advanced get out the vote political machine. At stake is freedom in health care, entitlement reform, tax reform, the federal courts and possibly the Supreme Court, and the future of this nation. Trump may yet be a gift, but voters should first check what’s inside.
David Boze is a talk radio host on 770 KTTH in Seattle.