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Political Path Continues To Surprise . . . Is The Campaign Scene Just More Entertainment TV?

May 9, 2016 Frontpage No Comments

By DEXTER DUGGAN

After taping the scene is over on the movie set, the dead actors get up and walk away. They never were dead; they just dropped down on cue as part of the entertainment. It’s all pretend and box office.
As the tone shifted sharply after Donald Trump romped to another commanding victory in the Indiana primary, on May 3, pages in the script were yanked out and new lines were written for the next scene.
No longer was presidential foe Ted Cruz the despicable character he’d been that morning when Trump howled that Cruz’s father was involved somehow in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Now Ted was “a tough, smart guy” with “an amazing future.”
It helped, of course, that Cruz had just suspended his campaign and no longer was a speed bump buffeting The Donald’s tires.
Time magazine online was among various sources quoting victorious Trump late on May 3 about the beautiful new vistas emerging that apparently were far out of reach that very same morning:
“This country, which is very divided in so many different ways, is going to become one beautiful, loving country. We are going to love each other, cherish each other, take care of each other, and we are going to have great economic development.”
Forget that dead nation in the last scene. Quick-change artist Trump has a new outfit that alters everything around him once again. Just like with all the other caucus and primary scenes taped earlier this year. It’s just a show — and who better to do it than Trump the longtime television entertainer?
Liberal media back in the 1980s said Ronald Reagan was “the Teflon president” because nothing stuck to him. What they meant was voters weren’t blaming Reagan when he did good things in their eyes — even though liberal media hated conservative good deeds and futilely wished Reagan would pay the price with public opinion when he achieved them.
But Reagan was a piece of bug-heavy flypaper compared to Trump, who never seemed to say anything offensive to GOP voters, no matter how outrageous.
Suddenly Trump had lamented that reporters weren’t digging into Cruz’s father being involved in a 1960s presidential assassination. Yet that very evening the accusation was entirely forgotten. No demands that the FBI get digging; instead, a beautiful country where everyone loves one another.
Trump wasn’t merely squeaking to victories in cliffhangers. If one looked at a map where each individual county was outlined, often most if not all the counties were his. It was reported that in six northeastern states’ contests, he won every single county except for the borough of Manhattan in New York — and Manhattan was his home territory most of all.
In every area of the country where Trump had competed as of May 3, he often simply mowed down the opposition.
So his actual words meant little or nothing to winning his way with the public? Were his policy views equally irrelevant? As long as he growled against the prevailing powers that had caused national suffering, that was enough?
Noting that Trump already was a prominent public figure back in 1987, when Reagan still was president, attorney and writer David French said at the National Review site on May 3:
“Trump was more famous than any single person in political media, including all the major talk-radio hosts. So his gaffes couldn’t define him. His outrageous statements couldn’t sink his campaign. Indeed, the gaffes often stayed in the political subculture, while Trump remained the dominant force in the much larger pop culture.
“Call Trump racist and Apprentice fans immediately compare the accusation with the man they watched for 14 seasons. Call Trump stupid, and they remember his decades-long reign as one of America’s most famous billionaires,” French said.
Still, conservative activists researching their databases usually aren’t TV-entranced couch potatoes who’ll fall for any familiar face on the flat screen. Yet many of them, too, were choosing Trump.
Any politician could be capable of making promises he doesn’t intend to keep. But at least he probably has a track record to judge him by. That should be a major liability to Trump. He may be a deeply committed conservative from here on out. But just accepting his assurances that he has turned over a new leaf seems risky in this corner.
So I was intrigued at a recent large gathering of Arizona Republicans to see people I regarded as trustworthy, dedicated conservatives having chosen to place their hopes in Trump.
Two days before the Indiana primary, one of these Arizonans, Ann Howard, told me she “started out as a Cruz supporter big-time,” but concluded Cruz had flaws in his thinking.
“I gradually started moving toward the vulgarian Trump….I think he’s the only one that we’re going to have a chance beating Hillary,” Howard said. “. . . I think he is fearless” and shouldn’t have a problem “taking her apart.”
Although Cruz would send illegal aliens away, she said, “He will inundate this country with legal immigrants,” and he also “has a history of being in favor of the trade deals.”
When this campaign season began, a frequent theme was that the GOP had a wide, promising field of hopefuls, plus hopeless Trump. Yet the scorned, fast-talking New Yorker mowed them all down.
It’s often true that history is just variations on a theme, and “there’s nothing new under the sun.” But from the right side of the political spectrum to the left, there seems to be agreement this year’s presidential race will continue to be something we’ve never yet seen.

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