If Friday’s debate was to be the preliminary pre-gaming session for the political Banger-Rager of the year, it’s a good thing the party was cancelled.
Last week, Mr. Donald Trump opted out of his long-slated appointment as GOP moderator one dramatic day before what may very well now be the last debate of the year (and disappointingly so, for it wasn’t all that interesting). With too few heads for the party hats, Trump responded to the lack of positive RSVPs like a spoiled debutante, extending his cemented distaste for the expected absentees with the deliberate cattiness of a Plastic condemning their peers to “The Burn Book.”
In a press release, Trump padded the announcement with his rationale that, despite the promise the Dec. 27 Newsmax spot had to be the “most substantive and interesting debate” (EVAR!), he choose to withdraw from it to prevent a conflict of interest.
“The Republican Party candidates are very concerned… I will announce my candidacy for President of the United States as an Independent… Unless I conclusively agree not to run as an Independent, they will not agree to attend,” he deduced.
Translation: Everyone is worried I’d look better than them and show up in something foreign and fabulous. Unless I had spilled by stylin’ months in advance so the rest of them could attempt to compare, they won’t even bother showing up.
To be fair, that Trump is tentatively flirting with running for office at the conclusion of this season of The Apprentice in May, and as an Independent, is good enough reason to not attend a debate that could potentially be, quite literally, a campaign spot for a third-party candidate in a uniquely advantageous position. This position, powerhouse status notwithstanding, could allow Trump to discredit the running party as a whole, rather than facilitate the internal competition, and get paid for it in funds he wouldn’t even need.
Jon M. Huntsman and Ron Paul have decidedly likened a debate hosted by Trump to be inevitably “circus-like”; in my opinion, this places them outside the scope of what has been called a lack of courage on the part of the Republicans, many of whom attributed the declination of their invitations to scheduling conflicts, despite having expressed an explicit camaraderie with the real-estate and media powerhouse, a registered Republican (he had made the switch in 2009 from the Democratic party).
Whether or not participation in a debate hosted by Trump would have travestied the presidential run, it would have certainly categorized the favorites from the nobodies and this fact is not lost on anyone, especially Trump himself.
Trump on why he is a political player: “I’m very handsome, it’s my looks… It’s because I represent the millions of Americans who wanted me to run [in Spring 2011 as a Republican candidate]… The candidates want my endorsement because those millions of Americans listen to me and respect me.”
This is not hubris, nor is this self-evaluation inaccurate. Love him or hate him, he gets more consideration from the American public than any of the party candidates. Though some Americans think “Trump is a chump,” they all know who he is and are by no means ambivalent to his political sentiments.
Therefore, candidates cannot afford to ignore the political sway that the man has in the mission to oust the Democratic Demon from office, and this makes post-snub damage control, strategic or not, as important as the severity of any elbow rubbing that occurred before it.
For whatever reason, Mitt Romney has been spared from attack, as Trump publicly claims to understand that Romney has more important things to worry about besides Iowa. Like being called a panderer in this rare, but genuine moments of accessibility.
Besides giving a expression that bordered on blank-faced panic in response to every question at last week’s debate, Michele Bachmann has done little to justify not attending, despite having made several public statements pegging him as her running mate in the unlikely case “The Firebrand” snagged the Republican candidacy, not to mention the makings of what would allow her to say such a thing. She and Rick Perry, who declined his invite in tandem, are cowards until further notice.
Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are safe and stand to gain; Gingrich is almost guaranteed a formal endorsement and Santorum is calling everyone the H-word.
Notice that Huntsman and Paul have not been negatively called out for their refusal to attend on the 27th; they may not receive an endorsement, but given how vocal Trump has been about his disappointment, they could very well if they happen decide to kiss his ass at the last minute.
Being denied the opportunity to be the prettiest one in the room does not do well to inspire humility, that’s for sure. He is still threatening—er, expressing his desire to run for President of the United States, but seems to not feel a need to make a formal status report on what he actually, definitively intends to do.
The 2012 Presidential Election less than a year away, and the tightening of the Republican primary an inch away from cinching, this display of behavior on the part of the business and media mogul is nothing short of entitled, and an abuse of the allowance his position affords him.
Nevertheless, he can, and does, afford it.