President Trump? Weirder things have happened.
Regardless of all intuitions to the contrary, it is both possible and plausible that The Donald might become The President.
Here’s a thought experiment:
Transport your imagination back a decade to October 2005. Saddam Hussein is on trial in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina has just devastated the Gulf Coast and Michael Jackson has been acquitted of child molestation. Early speculation about the 2008 presidential election is percolating. Two names crop up that aren’t on the lists of the usual suspects. Which one seems more preposterous?
Candidate #1: A first-term Democratic Senator whose highest prior office was state senator. He is the son of a divorced couple, a white American mother and a black Kenyan father, and he was raised in Hawaii. He has a foreign sounding name that sounds like a Muslim name to many Americans. In an autobiography, he wrote about using drugs as a teen. He was a “community organizer” before going to law school.
Candidate #2: A twice-divorced real estate and gambling billionaire from New York City who has never run for public office and who isn’t a card-carrying Democrat or Republican. He is a flamboyant super-celebrity with his own reality TV show and his name is a “brand” name in luxury properties and casinos, some of which have gone bankrupt.
Two outlandish prospects, for sure. But without revisionist recollection, Candidate #1, Barack Hussein Obama, was clearly the more improbable. Sure, Trump was an egomaniacal publicity hound without a shred of ethical, political or intellectual credibility. But he was beyond famous, able to fund a big top campaign and, after all, the former host of “Death Valley Days” was a popular two-term president a few years back. Unlikely? Totally. But as Yogi Berra said when he heard the mayor of Dublin was Jewish, “Only in America can a thing like this happen.”
But a black president – and a political unknown at that: no way. I cannot tell you the number of people – liberals and Republicans, kind-hearted souls and prejudiced rats — who said to me around that time, “A black man named Barack Hussein Obama? Not in my lifetime.” Post-9/11 Islamophobia was virulent and there was war in Iraq.
Well, 10 years later, Barack Hussein Obama is in his second term and 50 percent of Republicans still believe he’s Muslim. Only in America.
And Donald Trump is an official candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. He’s ahead in most of the polls – has been for months.
I’m just guessing but I suspect about 75 percent of the electorate and 95 percent of the political elite think the idea of The Donald as POTUS is preposterous, just like it was a decade ago. It’s “physically possible” as we used to say in first grade arguments, but it can’t happen.
I never believed Obama could be elected in 2008. I don’t believe for a nanosecond that Trump can get the GOP nomination be elected president. And that proves I have a crippled imagination, conformist judgment and inability to learn from history.
Regardless of all intuitions, gut instincts, empirical analysis and political brilliance to the contrary, it is both possible and plausible that The Donald might become The President.
That’s a hard thing to wrap your mind around. Get over it. As Jeb Bush famously observed, “Stuff happens.” Stuff a lot weirder than this. Just yesterday, Guatemala elected a TV comic president.
So what’s moral of the story? That’s up to you. But me? I’m moving to Canada.