The GOP rush to slaughter in 2016 began in earnest this weekend at the Iowa Freedom Summit. From alleged Bridgegate conspirator Chris Christie to monosyllabic weekend cowboy Rick Perry, a bevy of unelectable candidates came to audition for the campaign season before an audience of 1,000 far-right GOP base voters.
It was a disaster. Roger Simon of Politico reported that the vast majority of the candidates spent a lot of time shit-talking each other, culminating in a Ben Carson speech decrying name-calling in the middle of 10 hours of "Republicans acting like third graders." But no one was more pompous than failed casino magnate Donald Trump, who took to the stage to essentially goad other Republicans while massaging his own ego:
“It can’t be Mitt,” Trump said, the bright overhead stage lighting, not favoring, his elaborate comb-over. “Mitt ran and failed!”
Applause from the crowd.
“Like him, dislike him, that 47 percent [remark] is not going away,” Trump said. “Romneycare is not going away. He choked. He had it won, and something happened. I see that all the time. And I think this election is going to be harder than beating a failed president.”
Trump then applied the same treatment to Jeb Bush, yelling, "He’s very, very weak on immigration. He said, ‘They are coming for love.’ What? Half of them are criminals!" But even as Trump was stumping, he never actually came closer than hinting that he might run. Trump will never actually run for elected office. He's desperate enough for attention to dangle the notion of a presidential run over the heads of gullible Tea Partiers, but much too vain to ever actually commit himself to a popularity contest he'd actually lose.
For someone who's never actually ran for any publicly elected position (or read a poll), the Donald is remarkably certain of his appeal to a diverse set of Americans. But while he's easy to write off as a deluded narcissist -- a BuzzFeed profile in 2014 exposed the Trump circle's innermost layers of yes-men and indulgent aides -- it's a little less hard to stomach Republicans rushing to fawn over Trump too. His faux-campaign act dates back to at least 1988.
Nah. Take this clip of willfully self-indulgent preening from the same day, in which Trump lectured The Des Moines Register about how he would have beat Obama in a landslide in 2012:
Oh, and he'll beat Hillary Clinton in 2016, too:
"I was leading in every poll. ... I regret that I didn't stay in," he [told the Register] in an interview before a private dinner at the Stine Barn in West Des Moines. "I would've won the race against (President Barack) Obama. He would've been easy. Hillary (Clinton) is tougher to beat than Obama, but Hillary is very beatable.
"[Mitt Romney] failed. He choked. He's like a deal-maker that didn't close the deal."
Again, there's probably no reason why anyone would willingly subject themselves to this prattle - but they do:
For once, I hope Trump isn't just hinting. A Trump vs. Clinton campaign would make great television and put all the eyes on Trump that he could possibly want, and make 2016 really a year to remember.
But don't count on it. It's probably going to be Jeb Bush or one of the other losers actually running, just like it has been ever since The Donald first graced us with his vision for the presidency in 1988. And since most of his potential rivals don't poll much better, we can look forward to Trump continuing to inform us he would have been a better candidate for at least another decade.