Remember that movie – The Producers? Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom (played by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder) try to put on a show that’s bound to fail. They search for the most offensive, preposterous script and, well, here’s what Wiki says:
“After reading many bad plays, the partners find the obvious choice for their scheme: Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden. It is "a love letter to Hitler" written in total sincerity by deranged ex-Nazi Franz Liebkind (Kenneth Mars). Max and Leo persuade Liebkind to sign over the stage rights, telling him they want to show the world "the Hitler you loved, the Hitler you knew, the Hitler with a song in his heart." To guarantee that the show is a flop, they hire Roger De Bris (Christopher Hewett), a director whose plays "close on the first day of rehearsal." The part of Hitler goes to a charismatic, but only semi-coherent, flower power hippie named Lorenzo St. DuBois, a.k.a. L.S.D. (Dick Shawn), who can barely remember his own name and mistakenly wandered into the theater during the casting call.”
Needless to say, the play is an immense hit and their plans are thwarted.
Trump’s campaign reminded me of this. I reckon he got into the race for the publicity but didn’t want to stay for the long haul. While this seems counter-intuitive, look at how, after the first glow of success, he’s conducted himself.
He kicks of his campaign by making the ludicrous promise to build a huge wall across the 1,900 mile Mexican border. And he claims he would “make” Mexico pay for this colossally expensive project. Then, to soften Mexico up for this impending expense, he accuses them of sending drugs, criminals and rapists to the U.S.
Mere mortals would get laughed out of the race but Trump just gets more popular. OK, ridiculous, offensive promises didn’t work. How about insulting war vets? He mocks John McCain for being regarded as a hero only because he got captured. In Trump’s own words, “I like people who weren’t captured.”
That doesn’t work either. So maybe another outrageous, disgusting policy proposal will. He calls for a total ban on Muslims entering the US. This brings condemnation from the UK, France and even Netanyahu. But what do those furriners know? Trump rises in the polls.
What now? With stupidity and offensiveness having failed, maybe attacking media might do the trick. And not just any media. Fox News – the outlet most of his supporters favour. He starts off by suggesting that Megyn Kelly, one of the network’s most popular presenters, must having been having her period when she asked him a question he didn’t like. And to go for the one-two punch, he boycotts a much-publicized Fox debate. Nice try Donald. You’re still the leader of the pack. But he’s only begun to fight.
Really stumped now, he launches a barrage of silliness. He releases his budget proposals which pledge big tax cuts for the richest and, according to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, would add as much as $15 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. He proposes a 45% tariff on Chinese goods which, aside from violating multiple international treaties, would set off a 1930’s style trade war. He gives out the cell phone number of Lindsay Graham, the Senator whose state of South Carolina has an upcoming primary and for good measure, calls the senator stupid.
After a thumping triumph in New Hampshire he’s really getting desperate. South Carolina is coming up and his rudeness to Senator Graham hasn’t slowed him down. He can’t come up with any more outlandish policies and he’s brayed at every Republican target in sight. Time to think big. Really big. Huuuuuge if you will. Then he has it. The Pope. The rock-star Pope. Even non-Catholics like him. But no one’s too exalted for The Donald.
So he questions the Pope’s credentials in who he considers Christian, calling Francis “disgraceful” and suggests that those scheming Mexicans put him up to it. This was a few days before the South Carolina primary and we all know how that turned out. In a puff of white smoke, Trump again finished well ahead of the pack. Those bits of black smoke were emanating from the Bush campaign.
Now we’re heading in to Super Tuesday where Trump has healthy leads in most states. He’s run out of offensive sallies to torpedo his campaign and has been reduced to turning debates into incoherent screaming matches. To ask the perverse question (and keeping in mind the thesis that he’s trying NOT to win), is he, and are we, destined to a future where a clownish buffoon holds real power?
Perhaps not. I suspect he’s keeping his major artillery, his doomsday device, holstered. Remember the Iowa caucuses? It’s the one contest he lost. And why was that?
Step forward Sarah Palin. While her talking-in-tongues endorsement of Trump undoubtedly appealed to the evangelical crowd, it put off just enough (3-4%) lunacy-averse Republican Iowans. Watch how when the going gets really tough, the tough will really get going. That means another appearance from Ms Palin. Who would have thought she’d be our only hope?