COMMENTARY: The possibility of President Trump? ‘Deal with it’

The other day, for reasons I need not go into here, I was forced to watch nearly two hours of Donald Trump without even a commercial break. It was his presser when Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey endorsed him, and then, his 30 minutes of remarks to a rally in Fort Worth.

That’s about as much Trump as I can tolerate in one sitting. On the other hand, we’d better get used to it.

I have been covering presidential politics as a reporter or editor since 1964, and I have never seen anything like this year’s race. For one thing, I have never seen a situation where one of the major candidates is vulnerable to a felony indictment; but this essay isn’t about her.

I have never seen anything like it because I have never seen a rant quite like what I watched that day. This performance should cement the fact that Trump is a master of the stage in a way no other candidate in my memory ever was.

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Reid K. Beveridge

Only the night before, it is widely agreed that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., successfully discombobulated Trump and clearly mastered him in the Republican debate. Then, the next morning, he continued his attacks by commenting on Trump’s demeanor both on stage and “offstage” during the commercial breaks — only to have Trump completely turn the tables on him by noon Texas time.

First, there was the Christie endorsement. Then, there was the 30-minute talk in which he basically repeated all of Rubio’s comments, only turned them 180 degrees on Rubio. One result, as more than one commentator quickly noted, was to suck all the oxygen out of Rubio’s sterling debate performance.

Rubio simply vanished, or nearly so, from the political stage on what was arguably his best campaign day. The only conclusion this reporter, and even the most eminent pundits, can come to is that this year’s politics have become vastly different from the norm. The conventional wisdom of the years is no more.

A few weeks ago, Time magazine said on its cover: “Trump: Deal With It.” As it turns out, that’s good advice.

When he first boomed into the race and made statements such as that most Mexican immigrants were rapists and criminals and that John McCain was no war hero, many of us thought Trump would blow himself up in no time. Didn’t happen.

As Laura Ingraham and others have pointed out, Trump has tapped into a vast vein of anger in the nation, and not just the conservative anger, it turns out. People like the fact that he is politically incorrect and says whatever he thinks without the PC filter that so many politicians employ.

And, of course, he transfixes even the mainstream media. True, it’s more the show than any substance. We all know, of course, that even if elected, Trump will not force the Mexican government to build a fence, nor will he force the Chinese to do anything. But it sure is entertaining.

What also is becoming obvious is that Trump’s command of a lot of issues, especially foreign policy, is pretty thin. However, when he is asked a question on those subjects, he simply talks. One observer, having watched his answer to one such, wondered, “What did he just say?” In fact, what he said was nonsense and not even on the subject. Now, true, lots of politicians obfuscate an answer when they don’t like the question.

Originally, there were 17 Republicans candidates dividing up the vote. Then, Trump’s share was in the mid-20s. The other 16 divided the other 75 percent. The conventional wisdom then was that Trump had a ceiling of less than 30 percent. Then, when he got more than that in New Hampshire, the “ceiling” was raised into the 30s. Then he got 46 percent in Nevada even as the number of candidates has now shrunk to five.

Back then, I said Trump would not be the Republican presidential nominee. We have not elected a non-politician president since Eisenhower, and he wasn’t a rich businessman like Trump. He was a five-star general and a war hero.

Further, back then, most of the polls showed Trump losing big to Hillary Clinton. Now, that margin — like most of Mrs. Clinton’s big leads in several states — has shrunk.

So, even though those same polls show Rubio and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., defeating Mrs. Clinton, even Trump has pulled even, or nearly so.

Which leads us to this. Serious pundits now are speculating on what a President Trump and a Trump presidency will be like. As Time Magazine advised, “Get used to it.”

Or not.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Reid K. Beveridge has covered politics in Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Delaware and Washington, D.C. He is now retired at Broadkill Beach. Beveridgere@prodigy.net.

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