Back in 2008, Shelby Steele — author of A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Barack Obama and Why He Can’t Win — argued that then-Sen. Barack Obama’s appeal to voters was that his historic election transcended the issues of the day. His presidential campaign was “the stuff of a far higher drama than budget deficits and education reform.” According to Steele, in other words, it was about the man, not the message.
Shelby Steele, meet Donald Trump — the man — real estate developer, pageant promoter, casino operator and owner of the worst-ever recession catchphrase: “You’re fired.” His “candidacy” doesn’t just transcend; it literally eclipses the issues of the day. And if you go by the openly attention-begging name of his website — shouldtrumprun.com — he’s running for president.
He’s got a private jet, a young, exotic third wife and a chain of golf resorts — if living the good life that you’ll never have was a qualification to be president, he’d already be into his third term.
But when you get past the shimmery “Trump” brand — bombast tied up with a gold lamé bow — Trump’s biggest “issue” is that on the issues, he’s a lot closer to Obama than you might think.
Three weeks ago, arguing for military intervention to prevent a bloodbath in Libya’s civil war, Trump said, “If we could surgically strike and stop that from happening, I’d be for it.” But then appearing on CNN immediately after Obama addressed the nation to explain why he’d done exactly that, Trump claimed that Obama’s Libya policy “makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.”
Nodding to the current Tea Party vibe, Trump has offered himself up, saying, “You need someone who’s going to knock out ObamaCare.” But that stance is more than a little bit out of touch with the health care position he took in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, in which he wrote, “I’m a conservative on most issues, but a liberal on this one,” before making the case for universal coverage by arguing, “People are our greatest asset.”