America is in a strange place, if both Sarah Palin and Donald Trump think they can become president.
Ms. Palin, who celebrates her self-described commonness, and Mr. Trump who revels in his self-described uncommonness, each have the nothing-better-to-do media types infatuated with whether one or both will run to become the Most Powerful Person On Earth.
Think about that.
I’ve already said that Sarah Palin will not run for president in 2012. Her goal is to keep speculation alive long enough to accumulate sufficient cash to purchase Alaska, so she can have it all to herself. And right now she is able to routinely separate enough gullible commoners from their disposable income that someday that dream may come true. Good for her. But president? Come on. Nobody believes that, even if she really wanted to go for it.
That leaves us with Donald Trump. What is it about rich jerks like The Donald, who think the world pines for their pomp and longs for their leadership? Nature kicked Trump out of the safety and comfort of his mother’s womb into the safety and comfort of a womb of wealth. His father was a prosperous New York real estate developer. Go figure.
Yet, despite such a head start in life, Mr. Trump managed to get himself in financial trouble in the 1990s (remember “junk bonds”?). From a 1991 article in Time:
Meet Donald Trump’s bankers. Like the characters in the fairy tale The Emperor’s New Clothes, a gaggle of major financial institutions has finally been forced to admit, after lending Trump billions of dollars, that there’s a lot less to the emperor — or at least his empire — than the banks had believed. Not quite nine months after bailing out Trump with a rescue package that gave him $65 million in new loans and eased credit terms on his bank debt, Trump’s bankers last week stopped the game. Already more than $3.8 billion in the hole and sliding perilously close to a mammoth personal bankruptcy, the brash New York developer had no choice but to accept the dismantling of his vast holdings. Meeting round the clock at secret Manhattan locations, Trump’s lawyers and bankers by week’s end had begun to hammer out a complex series of agreements on the distribution of some of his assets.
However, unlike you and me and most of the world, Trump was simply too big to fail completely. He was so far in debt, his creditors had to cut him a deal in order to keep from losing even more money than the hundreds of millions they reportedly lost on his ambitions. And through it all, The Donald kept his humility in check:
…despite his desperate situation, Trump, who has always prided himself on his mastery of dealmaking, once again seems to have come up with a strong hand. Pooh-poohing any notion that he was cornered, Trump insisted last week that the talks were friendly. “I have a great relationship with the banks,” he said, adding airily, “The 1990s are a decade of deleveraging. I’m doing it too.”
Yeah, it’s nice to have a “great relationship with the banks.” I certainly have a great relationship with my bank: Everyone there knows where I live and if I don’t make my car payment, they will send someone out to check on me, and then they will tow my car away.
Donald Trump’s life, past and present, is God’s way of rubbing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s terrible truth in our face: the rich are, indeed, different from you and me.
Trump has confessed to us that he is thinking about running for president, as a Republican, of course. I recommend everyone watch his interview with George Stephanopoulos. You will find that he is willing to start a trade war with China, that he finds Sarah Palin interesting and he likes her, but you won’t find out his position on abortion rights, because he’s not ready to reveal that piece of information just yet. He was asked,
Are you pro-choice?
Trump: I don’t want to discuss, right now, but you will be shocked when I give you that answer…I’m gonna make a decision and when I make a decision I’ll let you know about that. But I think you’ll probably be surprised.
Everyone knows you can’t win a Republican primary and be pro-choice on abortion, so, no doubt, Mr. Trump has to figure out not what he believes, but what he needs to believe. He’s flexible. How thoughtful.
He confirmed his presidential ambitions this morning on Morning Joe. Mika Brzezinski, who falsely represents political balance on the show, asked him this question:
So, this frustration you feel, is that why you were thinking of running for president, and would you run as a Republican?
TRUMP: Well, I am a Republican—I’d run as a Republican. And I haven’t decided—I’d prefer not running. I’m having a great time, as you know, doing what I’m doing.
Yes, like his party comrade Sarah Palin, The Donald doesn’t really want to run for president. He’s got better things to do. Both of these stunningly patriotic Americans suggest that their lives are full of wonderful things, like grizzlies and Fox “News” and skyscrapers and casinos and lots and lots of cash, but they would give it all up—except the cash—just to be our leader, if we really, really needed them.
When Joe Scarborough asked him this morning to rate Barack Obama as a leader, in his typically Trumpish way, Trump said:
Well, you know, I respect him, I like him, I think he is wonderful in many ways. I think he has not been good for business and honestly and very sadly the world does not respect this country, and therefore I assume the world does not respect our leader. He’s a nice man, I think he’s totally over his head.
Barack Obama is a nice man. But he’s bad for business. He’s over his head. And The Donald knows this because, as he told Stephanopoulos,
I have many people from China that I do business with, they laugh at us. They feel we’re fools. And almost being led by fools.
There you have it. A man who thinks he can be president bases his opinion of our country’s standing in the world, and our President’s ability to lead, on what his Chinese business friends tell him about America.
As I said, America is in a strange place these days.