Friday, April 22, 2016

Who is the @realdonaldtrump?

General Haffaz Aladeen.
In another startling development this week (reported by Ben Jacobs for the Guardian), in Hollywood, Florida, where Donald Trump's presidential campaign was entertaining the Republican National Committee
over heaping piles of seafood, plates of cheese and an open bar
(I don't know why I think that sounds so funny—maybe the implication that there aren't any plates for the seafood, or that there's a kind of completeness summarized by these three items in particular, or the sense that the participants are "over" all three at once, which makes me imagine them standing around a clambake setup, with the cheese plates and the bar in in the steaming pit with the lobsters and corncobs) the campaign acknowledged for the first time that Donald Trump is not real:
Manafort and Wiley set out a general election argument where they insisted that Trump’s high negatives could be overcome. A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 65% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Republican frontrunner.
However, they insisted that once voters got to know the real Trump as opposed to the public face he has presented while campaigning and while hosting the NBC reality show The Apprentice, they will warm to him. He said that persona was just an act.
Suggesting that under that combover beats the brain of a brilliant performance artist, a Sasha Baron Cohen, whose identity will be revealed in the fullness of time; he'll show up in whatever his normal hairstyle is, America will breathe a sigh of relief, the Trump voters will be good sports about the thing ("Hey, I guess the joke's on us!"), and the deal will be done.

Only excuse me, but I have my doubts whether this will succeed. For instance, suppose he really is Sasha Baron Cohen. Would people really want to vote for him in that case? Wouldn't they worry a little that he might show up at the Group of Ten meeting as Ali G, or perhaps General Aladeen, which could cause him to to be banned from Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and Italy? Or what if he's Lady Gaga, or the late David Bowie? All these would surely be unacceptable as leaders of the United States at such a critical juncture of our history.

Besides which, unless he really did turn out to be Lady Gaga, it raises the question of whether he is a natural born US citizen, which has caused so much stress for Barack Obama and Ted Cruz.

Of course we are aware that Donald Trump is not really Sasha Baron Cohen. He's visibly a good deal older, and indeed his first show business venture (co-producing the Broadway flop Paris is Out!) took place in 1970, a year before Baron Cohen was born. In connection with that, it is disconcerting to realize that Trump's fictional persona has stayed in character for over 45 years, more than quadrupling Stephen Colbert's record.

Policy wonks, naturally, will be wondering what the ideas of the man beneath the mask are. Does he, too, plan to build a wall and have the Mexicans pay for it? Does he, too, intend to ban members of a very large religious affiliation from entry into the United States until we figure out what the hell is going on? Does he, too, support a tax reform to bring the top marginal income tax rate down to 25%. the top marginal rate on capital gains and dividends to 20%, the corporate tax rate to 15%, and the national debt up 10 or 12 trillion dollars over the next ten years? If not, why not? Wouldn't it be a little bit defeatist if he were to give up on these signature ideas? A little, ah, weak, low-energy, non-huge?

Or would he want to do something or other else? Something equally fabulous, rich, and winning winning winning? In character, but in a different character, perhaps more urbane and calmer, to reassure the timorous leaders of the RNC? Will we get anything on that during the relaunch, or is it being reserved for a post-inauguration surprise? Our breath, it is bated.

Update: Spoilsport Steve M insists on explaining what's really going on.

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