IMMEDIATE RELEASE 18 Feb. 2016 10
Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column, Founded 1932
Pope and president denounce Trump to no avail
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
WASHINGTON – President Obama couldn’t resist the temptation. Asked about the presidential race at a news conference following his meeting in California with Southeast Asian leaders, Obama unloaded on Donald Trump. The presidency is not a television reality show and Trump will not be president because the American people are too “sensible” to elect someone like Trump, the President said.
That sounds a lot like what the pundits have said since Trump first declared his candidacy on June 16th last year. More than a dozen contenders for the Republican nomination have said the same thing. Those who are left are still saying it. Jeb Bush spent the better part of an hour at a rally in South Carolina this week railing on Trump.
Obama made a mistake jumping into the middle of the GOP brawl for the nomination. Trump thrives on notoriety and when Obama takes him on, all it does is boost Trump’s standing with Republican voters in the primaries.
The President is just the latest high-profile entry into the Dump Trump movement, and what have all these critics gotten out of it? Not much. Most of the attacks come back to bite them. And, now, even Pope Francis has weighed in, and Trump responded: “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.” This is a first.
Senator Ted Cruz, R-Tex., appears to be the most likely next casualty. He was second to Trump in South Carolina before the billionaire real estate developer started lobbing insults his way and threatening lawsuits. Now Cruz has fallen in the polls and inadvertently made room for rival Marco Rubio to perhaps slip into second place.
This is a generalization but it’s true of many Republicans. They have a visceral dislike for Obama. It makes no sense, but it shapes their views and it has become a fact of political life. Baiting Obama into even mentioning Trump’s name gives such a boost to Trump and his supporters that it’s like an infusion of a high-powered energy drink.
Pressed by a reporter as to whether he thinks Trump will win the GOP nomination, Obama refused to say, leaving us to assume his prediction that Trump will not be president does not exclude the New York developer from getting the nomination.
Obama makes the same presumption that several of the candidates are making, that the American public will come to their senses as the process grinds on and we get closer to picking a president. They theorize that Trump will eventually be overtaken by exactly whom, nobody is quite sure, but by one of the other candidates, maybe Cruz, maybe Rubio, probably not Bush.
Polling in the upcoming Super Tuesday states show Trump with sizeable leads, and it is well within the realm of possibility that he will be the Republican nominee. When GOP leaders first contemplated that outcome some months ago, they feared widespread losses – the presidency, the U.S. Senate, maybe even the House of Representatives if Trump led the ticket.
And look what’s happened. Trump has not gone away, and some party leaders prefer him to Cruz.
If Trump gets the nomination, he won’t be running like anything we’ve ever seen. Democrats will have to expect the unexpected. He’ll be suing people and denouncing people. There will be a blitz from him from every direction, television ads, social media, rallies full of bluster and shows of strength that cannot be ignored.
If Democrats are thinking Trump at the top of the Republican ticket would be easy to beat, they better beware. He has broken every rule the experts thought they knew about politics, and while it’s doubtful he could build the kind of coalition in a diverse country that would win the presidency, the potential that he might is enough to raise the prospect of a truly historical disaster.
Douglas Cohn’s new book, “The President’s First Year: None Were Prepared, Some Never Learned – Why the Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency,” is available in book stores.
© 2016 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND