Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Donald

Clearly billionaire Donald Trump is enjoying all the attention he is receiving as he deliberates a run for the White House in 2012. But should he throw his hat into the ring he will not enjoy the scrutiny his political positions, extensive investments and personal life will receive.

For sure, these are difficult times for America. They include a stubborn unemployment rate at about 9%. Burgeoning annual deficits and a crippling national debt cast a grim shadow over its future. A weak housing market, the loss of manufacturing jobs, an under-performing educational system and a rapidly aging population are daunting challenges. Immigration policy has not been reformed and crime remains a concern along the southern border with Mexico. Then there is the matter of China's growing economic power, its undervalued Renminbi and uncontrolled piracy.

America faces the threat of terrorism every minute. Meanwhile, the country is engaged in two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan, and a coalition military action against Libya's Colonel Muammar Qadhafi. Iran is meddling throughout the Mideast while not so secretly developing nuclear weapons. The region extending from Tunisia to Iran is convulsed in popular uprisings and civil war, which is putting tremendous strains on American diplomacy. America's close ally Israel is in a most precarious position as violence against it is escalating.

Japan's recent nuclear disaster is a shocking reminder of how even the best laid plans can go wrong in a flash, and raises questions about the future role of nuclear power in this country. This and the huge BP oil spill last summer in the Gulf of Mexico reflect the urgent need for a national energy policy.

Of course these are just a few of the issues President Barack Obama is facing every day. And meeting these challenges is made exponentially more difficult by the political divisiveness plaguing Washington and the nation.

These are also among the questions Donald Trump will have to answer if he chooses to run for the White House. So far no leading Republican has formally entered the race. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has announced he is forming an exploratory committee. Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann is expected to follow suit shortly. And former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has been barnstorming the nation in anticipation of his candidacy.

In a recent CNN poll Donald Trump finished fifth among a list of likely Republican presidential candidates in 2012. Trump got 10% of those polled among Republicans or independents leaning Republican. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee got 19%, Mitt Romney got 18 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 14 percent, and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin drew 12 percent.

That's not a bad showing for the undeclared real estate mogul, although his name recognition may be a factor in the polling. The Donald is the ultimate showman. He owns the Miss Universe Organization, which produces Miss USA, and runs a reality show called The Apprentice. His name hangs on the front of resorts, casinos, golf courses and real estate developments across the country. And his private jet boldly carries his name.

Trump has said he will decide by June because that is when he has to make a commitment to another season of The Apprentice. This is the program where Trump dismisses contestants with a glare and the words "You're fired." But running for president will mean more than just giving up his beloved television program. Trump, a well-known germophobe, will actually have to shake hands with likely voters. Yet this is a sacrifice he says he is ready to make, "If I decide to run, I will be shaking hands with everybody."

Trump has increased his media exposure to speak about what is wrong with this country. He has said that America is a now a joke. He has criticized Washington's dealings with China, "Nobody, other than OPEC, is ripping off the United States like China." And he has recently inserted himself into the "birther" movement making a demand of President Obama, "I want him to show the birth certificate."

Trump is a smart and successful businessman. He seeks money, power and attention. He is blunt and opinionated. He does not speak in poetry and he does not govern in prose. For these reasons it is unlikely he will run for president.

No comments: