Say goodbye to Glenn Beck (photo above, left), and hello to Donald Trump (photo above, right). In the crazy world of American politics, when you cannot possibly sell your policies you send in the clowns. It’s the same technique they use in rodeos; when a fallen rider is in danger, in come the clowns to distract the charging bull and divert the audience.
This campaign season has seen an array of clowns, from Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin to Christine O’Donnell and Sharon Angle (including super-clown Rush Limbaugh). And, of course, Glenn Beck. Weepy Glenn Beck. Bug-eyed Glenn Beck, warning of the imminent destruction of society as we know it, stitching preposterous theories together from fabricated “facts” and unrelated incidents.
Now I understand Beck is leaving Fox News this year to pursue other interests. (Click here for details.)
So, who does the Republican Party have to fill the void?
If you follow the polls, you know there’s a hard core slice of the American population that support the most extreme right-wing positions. These bone-heads believe anything, as long as it’s something bad about President Obama. They even believe that his mother and Malcolm X (his real father, they say) cooked up a conspiracy to make it look as if he was born in Hawaii so he could one day become president of the United States. (Click here for details.)
How crazy is that?
This conspiracy theory has been debunked over and over. The courts have rejected several lawsuits based on it. The media have checked the records and found nothing to substantiate it. But the far-right loonies refuse to accept the evidence.
Amazingly, Donald Trump, who for all his eccentricities was regarded as a reasonably sane businessman, has joined the so-called “birthers” in challenging the president’s American citizenship.
I won’t go into all the idiotic claims he is making. They have been discredited again and again.
Here’s how Salon.com describes the reception Trump’s claims are receiving:
Politico is mocking him, Bill O’Reilly is mocking him, the New York Daily News put him in clown makeup on the front page, and now media outlets are purposefully printing snippy letters to the editor, unedited, in order to publicly embarrass him. This kind of thing gets to Mr. Trump. He is a very sensitive soul.
Trump is giving every journalist in the country the opportunity to delve into his past financial troubles, his old political donations, his marriages, his horrid books, his failed business ventures, his defaulted loans – everything that the viewers of “Celebrity Apprentice” and the purchasers of Trump-branded crap don’t quite remember through the mists of time.
This is Trump undoing the years of public image rehabilitation that allowed him to host a show – on network TV, in prime time – in which he hires and fires people to begin with. He’s politicizing his straight-talking billionaire persona, and soon only Free Republic commenters will have him. There’s money in being a right-wing folk hero, as Ollie North could tell you, but it’s not Macy’s national ad campaign money. General-interest celebrity “business” books surely come with fatter advances than vanity right-wing publishing books, even with all that Scaife money still sloshing around.
Trump knows he is talking nonsense.
So why is he making a fool of himself?
Some commentators say he is promoting an upcoming television show. And in that kind of campaign there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
But I think it’s something more sinister.
The Republican Party is entering the 2012 election season with an agenda that cannot be sold. They propose such unacceptable policies as destroying Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the rest of the social safety net, while giving even bigger tax breaks to the super-rich.
It would be political suicide to run on a platform like that.
So here come the clowns.