Donald Trump will be the star of tonight’s debate, even if he isn’t there.
The front-running Republican primary candidate is standing by his work that he will not appear in the debate so long as Megyn Kelly (whom he complimented during a 2011 Newsmax Republican debate) is a moderator.
Did Trump let Kelly get the best of him (during that first debate, he simply noted in a gentlemanly tone that her question wasn’t very nice and left the mudslinging for Twitter)? Or was Kelly out of line in her questioning style, digging harder than was necessary?
His followers felt she was out of line. So did I. After listening to Rush Limbaugh yesterday afternoon, I came to the conclusion that he’s sincere in his feeling that he’d been targeted. Although he’s the front-runner, that doesn’t make him the party piñata for every television journalist with an axe to grind.
More than once, when I’ve been a guest somewhere, I walked out when I was insulted. Trump can hardly be blamed for wanting more courteous treatment, something Fox News’ Twitter yesterday, concerning Putin and Khameini not overflowing with fairness. That was a big hint to Trump as to what he could expect in the way of courtesy. None.
Still, a voter can’t help wondering how the media giant will fare once he’s in office. Obama couldn’t take it. He went for something like for over a year with barely one press conference. And this was with a press so friendly that they practically sent him candy on Valentine’s Day.
Because he’s a Capitalist, the press is going to be rather less than friendly to him. Also, for a man who’s spent so much time in front of the camera and in the public eye, Trump comes across less than articulate in the debates.
His supporters aren’t looking for a bookworm, though. They’re not looking for the national debate champion (they ought to be, but they’re not). They’re looking for someone who will deliver a raw, unvarnished message of not compromising our national security. This Trump does with thunderous pomp. No speechwriter’s prose for Trump. Does he even have a speechwriter?
Rather, he speaks the way I’ve seen executives speak to employees at town hall meetings. Even they do a better job of it. That’s just fine with Trump and his supporters because they’re looking for the rough and ready, not the sleek and polished. They’ve seen the sleek and polished. They’ve been lied to and betrayed time and again by the sleek and polished.
He’s probably better off avoiding the debates, anyway, for as some pundits have already noted, the debates are just not his forum. Trump wants to control the microphone, the platform, and the message. He’s a born soloist, although he readily admits to being a deal-maker, something American voters have not exactly embraced. We’ve thrown politicians out for that very reason.
So who are these people supporting Trump, then? Judging by their coarse, profane language and idiotic style, I would guess they are his young social media specialists. Every candidate has them. College kids and grads set up in a room with rows of computers – or tablets – tweeting as fast and as nastily as they can to anyone who sandbags their candidate.
Verbal abuse serves them well in discouraging citizen opposition. Their counterparts in other campaigns are non-plussed. But ordinary citizens engaging in Twitter or Facebook conversations will find no real discussions; only name-calling and profanity.
If no Conservative in their right mind, by now, would vote for Trump, then his numbers are being bolstered by moderates and young Democrats faced with two terrible choices in the primaries: a soon-to-be federal convict or an old, Socialist dinosaur.
But then they listen to Trump, who attempts (unsuccessfully) to eviscerate Ted Cruz and the Conservatives. That in itself is enough to recommend him to young Democrats, to say nothing of Moderates. He not only “disses” them, but tells them that he plans to break most of his campaign promises, declares that he loves making deals, that he’s friends with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and has, despite his attack on Ted Cruz, New York Values: he believes in gay marriage and is pro-choice on abortion.
Compared to the white-haired Bernie Sanders or the haggard-looking Hillary, Trump, at six-foot two (his son, Eric, is 6 foot 5) and burly, is in prime condition. He may be 69 but he sure doesn’t look it. He looks like he could take on Triple H, Big E, and Roman Reigns – all at one time. The guy is ready to rumble and his supporters love it.
The message is always the same when his supporters are asked, “Why Trump”?
The four-word answer: He can’t be bought.
There are other elementary reasons (he’s a tough talker, he always seem to win, etc.), all of which outweigh the fact that he’s a compromising deal-maker, never mentions the Constitution, never talks about freedom and liberty, and objects – strongly – to being criticized.
He’s Donald Trump. That’s all that matters. The fact that he’s a Social Liberal is just a bonus in his favor that will help him win over Moderates and young Democrats.
Taking all that account, he doesn’t need to participate in the Republican debate. He figures he’s got not just the primaries, but the whole election locked up. And that may very well be the case.
But it’s not over until it’s over.