The Scrapbook can’t pretend to have had a misspent youth. But we did occasionally wallow in the spectacle of pro wrestling. And it’s pretty obviously the case, as a handful of astute observers have pointed out, that Donald Trump is a close student of, and has been deeply influenced by, the dramatic conventions of pro wrestling.
In his creation of a brash, cartoonish persona, his deftness at milking every last drop of publicity from attention-grabbing confrontations, and his talent for creating and stoking melodramatic controversies, Trump is a classic embodiment of that character known in wrestling circles as “the heel”—i.e., the over-the-top villain fans love to hate.
Trump’s friendship and business alliances with the great wrestling impresario and businessman Vince McMahon have been much remarked on. (If your tastes run to that sort of thing, you can find a video of the two of them in the ring together by Googling “The Battle of the Billionaires takes place at Wrestlemania.”) But as we learned from the case of Minnesota’s 38th governor, such connections can be as much of a political asset as they are a liability. Before turning to politics, Jesse Ventura famously made his name as, yes, a heel. Indeed, one of Ventura’s well-known heel routines involved mocking a rival, the Texas-born Tito Santana, as “Chico,” proprietor of a taco stand in Tijuana—suggesting that Trump’s high-profile attack on criminal aliens from Mexico, besides staking out a distinctive position on immigration, may also have been a subliminal homage to the characters he has modeled himself on.
Trump’s high-profile confrontation with Fox News’s Megyn Kelly, beginning in the debate and continuing for days thereafter, was also straight out of pro-wrestling’s playbook of how to promote a prize fight—with Trump playing the heel and Kelly cast in the role of the heel’s beloved opposite: “the face.”
One thing for Trump’s opponents to bear in mind is that a heel never, ever apologizes—indeed, notoriety and outrage are what he seeks. If you’re not in a position to body slam him, the best approach is probably to mock and ridicule his manhood.
The idea of writing a book about a presidential campaign that never happened had not occurred to Don Cogman. He had spent two years trying to get Mitch Daniels, then governor of Indiana, to run for president in 2012. His effort—and it was no small effort—had failed. Daniels had moved on, right out of politics. He’d become president of Purdue University.
Needless to say, The Scrapbook is strictly neutral on the results of last week’s Republican presidential debate on Fox News. So neutral, in fact, that we won’t even mention any of the highlights—or lowlights, if you prefer—and certainly won’t weigh in on who swept the floor with whom, who embarrassed him/herself, or who should have been invited to this particular gathering but was not.
The late great comedian Milton Berle, when introduced to an enthusiastically applauding audience, would hold up his left hand in a modest gesture as if to say thank you but that’s enough, and with his right hand held at waist level encouraged the audience to even wilder applause. President Obama has just accomplished a similar feat. With one hand he has delivered his Clean Power Plan, designed to reduce the use of our own resources of fossil fuels.
In Africa today, President Obama said that he think he's a "pretty good president." So good, indeed, that if he ran for a third term, he "could win." But he cannot, he acknowledged, because it's against the law.
In his first Inaugural Address, President Obama offered an open hand to the Iranian regime. On July 14, announcing the nuclear deal that is the culmination of that overture, he shook a closed fist at the American people. The president came out swinging—not at the regime in Tehran but at his predecessors in the Oval Office and in Congress who for decades imposed an increasingly tough sanctions regime on Iran.
President Obama had a moment of impressive moral clarity at his Iran press conference Wednesday. It was when he was asked about Bill Cosby.
“I’ll say this: If you give a woman—or a man, for that matter—without his or her knowledge, a drug, and then have sex with that person without consent, that’s rape.” And, Obama continued, “I think this country, any civilized country, should have no tolerance for rape.”
‘Without this deal,” said President Obama on Tuesday, “there is no scenario where the world joins us in sanctioning Iran until it completely dismantles its nuclear program.” That was nothing new. Throughout the negotiations with Iran, “the world” has been one of the president’s favorite defenses against criticism. “Nothing we know about the Iranian government suggests that it would simply capitulate under that kind of pressure,” he continued. “And the world would not support an effort to permanently sanction Iran into submission.”
One might think that after the last Iraq war Democrats would be wary of allowing intelligence to dictate policy. Yet that is effectively what Barack Obama has done with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed in Vienna on July 14. The agreement with Iran is strategically premised on the notion that greater commerce will transform the virulently anti-American, antisemitic, terrorism-fond, increasingly imperial Islamic Republic into something more pleasant. Tactically, the agreement depends on Western intelligence against the Iranian nuclear target.
Our attention was drawn last week to the presidential campaign of Lindsey Graham. The Scrapbook likes and admires Graham, the veteran Republican senator from South Carolina, but concedes that he is probably not the likely nominee. Graham’s specialty is foreign relations, which never plays a prominent role in primary politics, and he doesn’t have much of a campaign staff or fundraising apparatus.
Fresh off its widely-mocked exclusive on the traffic citations given Marco and Jeannette Rubio – fewer than one per year, combined – the New York Times has an in-depth look at Scott Walker and the wealthy conservatives who backed him throughout his rise to national prominence. It’s a classic of the genre.
The media have no problem concocting scandals almost out of thin air when it comes to GOP candidates, so The Scrapbook continues to be agape at the journalistic treatment of this season’s Democratic field.
On May 14, I joined a tiny, highly exclusive group of Republicans, namely those who have decided not to seek our party’s presidential nomination. By contrast, the coach section of the party contains perhaps two dozen people who have announced (or soon will) their availability. Good luck to them all (well, maybe not all). Here’s the hard reality. If two dozen candidates actually declare, 23 of them will lose. I, on the other hand, will still be able to say I have never been defeated in a nomination contest.