Commentary by Bill Buchanan
Just when you think politics cannot get any stranger, suddenly Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich are running for president — and then Trump suddenly announces that he will not run after all. I know that we all have our political differences, but come on, Donald Trump or Newt Gingrich for president of the United States — leader of the free world?
Donald Trump’s blustery, self-aggrandizing style has always greatly irritated me. In the past, whenever I saw him on television, puffing up and going into hyperbole mode, I simply chalked it up to an entrepreneur using shameless self-promotion to further his business interests, and changed the channel. When he announced that he was running for president, I could not believe that anyone, other than himself, would actually take his candidacy seriously. But while a candidate, he was near the top of the heap in the early polls.
“I have made myself very rich,” he said recently, “and I would make this country very rich.” Well, there are at least 300 people who might argue with that statement. They would be the folks who bought condos that carried his name, such as Trump Tower and Trump International and who are currently suing Trump as some of those deals have unraveled financially. The people in the suit assumed that Trump was the developer, and marketing material certainly gave that impression. In some instances, Trump even made appearances at the properties to court buyers. But it turns out that Trump only licensed the use of his name. He was not the actual developer of the projects, and they did not have his financial backing. Some of those projects are now in dire financial trouble and investors have lost millions of dollars while Trump took home large licensing fees. Many of these people are understandably unhappy, and in the fine American tradition of “why blame myself when I can sue someone else,” they are taking him to court.
Trump has been involved in other questionable business dealings over the years, including Trump University and Trump Institute, which were started to educate the general public about the Trump philosophy of real estate and moneymaking savvy. The schools have come under fire with many claims filed with attorneys general in several states. The Better Business Bureau gave Trump University its next to lowest rating, a D minus, after receiving 23 complaints.
As if all that wasn’t embarrassing enough for Republicans, Newt Gingrich has also announced his candidacy. Poll numbers show him in the middle of the pack, and he is certainly being taken seriously by some. You will remember Mr. Gingrich as the man who brought divorce papers to his wife’s hospital room the day after her cancer surgery, and fought her at every turn on alimony and child support as she recovered from her illness. Gingrich’s wife confronted him about his marital infidelity. She chided him about the hypocrisy of traipsing around the country giving “family values” speeches while carrying on an adulterous affair. She claims he replied, “It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say.”
How silly of her to assume that he should be held to the same standards as the rest of us.
I never believed Trump thought he could take the Republican nomination, much less win the general election. I don’t think Gingrich believes he can win either with all the negatives he brings to the campaign. I look at these two guys and wonder how anyone can truly believe they have any motive other than gaining free publicity for themselves.
If fact, I think that is exactly what they are doing. They are in it for the publicity. Period.
Think about it. What else could you do that would guarantee you to get millions of dollars of free publicity to push the inevitable book deal or drive up the ratings of your reality show? Sarah Palin has provided the blueprint on how to turn political celebrity into cash flow. I think Trump and Gingrich knew well ahead of time they had no hope of ever being elected, and so are following in Palin’s footsteps to the bank.
This pre-meditated plan may be good personal economics for them, but it is a sad commentary on the state of American politics. The only thing sadder would be if one of them ever actually got elected.