The First GOP Debate a.k.a. The Donald Show

As certain as I am that the Donald Trump campaign balloon will pop at some point, I’m revising my thinking as to how he’ll perform tonight.   Forget what I said in my last post about him turning the evening into some form of The Apprentice.  He doesn’t need to make the debate all about him, it already is.

He has already established himself as the clear cut leading Republican candidate in the polls, so he does not need to be as outrageous as usual. He simply has to get through the night without the other candidates successfully tearing him down and I think the other candidates on stage will be wary of doing that, lest they seem like they are ganging up on him and dismissing the anger and frustration of a large proportion of the Republican base.   The Donald’s peeps.

In short, Trump does not need to score points on his opponents.  He’s already the big leader.  He just needs to counter punch a bit if they try to land punches on him.   So, the stage is set for Trump to look more presidential than usual which is all he needs to maintain his lead in the polls. What I’ll be curious to see is whether any of the other candidates impress sufficiently to rise in the polls themselves and what they’ll do to distinguish themselves. (1)

The difficulty for them is that anything that sounds like a serious approach to some problem, such as Chris Christie’s proposal for entitlement reform, will prompt glazed over eyes when compared with the Donald’s hubris.  You want entitlement reform?  Elect me president and I’ll show you entitlement reform, just as I built up a real estate empire.   I’ll also fix the border problem as well as put China in its place.  Wait and see.  The Great Wall will become The Great Wall of Trump.

The basic reason I think the Donald’s campaign will fizzle over time is that as much as we all want to fix a number of problems in this country, we have different ideas as to how to fix what and even what needs to be fixed, often polarized ideas.  The herculean challenge for a president these days is not to fix everything, but to get the rest of us (in the form of Congress) to agree upon a path to fix anything.

About a 100 years ago a wise man said something like:  For every complex problem there is a simple solution.  And it’s wrong. (2)   For Donald Trump and those who favor him in the poles, he is the simple solution.  Elect him and he’ll fix what others have been too feckless to fix.

Ah, I wish life were that easy.

But for now, and tonight and the immediate future, Trump mania seems likely to thrive and the solutions to our complex problems will seem that easy to a sizable some.


(1)  As you know, there are actually two debates tonight, the first for the seven candidates who did not make the top 10 in the polls.  They have the advantage of not worrying about clashing with Trump directly and one or more might say something that gets pumped up by the media later.  Carly Fiorina, the lone woman GOP candidate and good at articulating her ideas, would be my first guess.

(2)   The guy was H. L. Mencken, an influential American thinker of the period.  He actually wrote:  “There is always an easy solution to every human problem–neat, plausible, and wrong.”  But I think my bastardized version suits the Trump situation better.


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