4 Things Everybody Overlooks When Talking About Trump

Hey, have you heard about Donald Trump's run for president? No, not his current campaign, which can be summed up with this GIF of a farting hippopotamus:

curiositytube

I mean when he tried to win the Reform Party nomination in 2000, but lost to Pat Buchanan. Which is like aspiring to win the Super Bowl, but losing a pickup game to a senior from the local hospice. It's one of the few things about him that today's media coverage hasn't discussed in exhaustive detail. Which is a shame, because we can learn a lot from it. Unfortunately, most of what we learn is about ourselves, and it's not pretty.

#4. We're Less Willing To Call Out Bullshit

Ralph Freso/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Let's make one thing clear: Donald Trump will not win. Even if the sum of all our political knowledge turns out to be wrong and Trump starts taking primaries, Republican strategists would rather see the GOP burned to the goddamn ground before Trump represents it. Deez Nuts has better odds of victory, and I think no one knows that better than Trump.

Let's take a trip down remembrance road to a simpler time, when America's greatest concerns were importing enough Pokemon cards and wondering if Y2K would doom us to a thousand-year reign of darkness. Donald Trump was running for president and promoting his bestselling book, probably in between watching episodes of Friends he taped on VHS.

Renaissance Books

Now, in 2015, Trump is running for President and promoting his new bestselling book, and probably watching Friends on Netflix in between campaign stops.

Renaissance Books
The working title was The America We Still Deserve: Uncle Sam's Revenge.

He's got the same pose, the same haircut, the same cross between "I'm trying to seduce you" and "I need to poop" in his eyes. Oh, and the books have the exact same premise. America is broken, and only Donald Trump, with his no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is attitude, can fix it. He's an outsider, not a career politician, and he's a loose cannon who plays by his own rules. They took his wife and kids and left him with nothing ... to lose. Can you even tell them apart based on their descriptions?

Amazon

Amazon

Crippled America (the second one) is like an HD re-release. Their content is the same mix of policy position, Trump hype (according to these books, Trump hasn't lived the American dream so much as he's skull-fucked it into submission), and shots at his "enemies" -- which in this context means people who have mildly inconvenienced him. Hell, they both came out around the same time as new Star Wars movies. There's probably a Mad Libs template. There's only one key difference: No one's calling out his 2015 book as part of a marketing stunt.

Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Maybe he's just being more subtle this time around.

In 1999, The New York Post pointed out that Trump's book (and his entire campaign) had been dismissed by the political world as irrelevant. USA Today also expressed skepticism about his motives. The LA Times and Newsweek ran articles pointing out that Trump was more interested in being a salesman than a statesman. I could go on and on, because Trump's presidential ambitions were met with more doubt than claims of a time machine that also gives blowjobs. And sure enough, Trump eventually dropped out, but only after boosting his public profile. A few years later he launched The Apprentice, and he's been in the spotlight ever since.

Trump's new book prompted little skepticism. CNN, Business Insider, ABC and others ran excerpts with no criticism. MSNBC's list of its "best bits" includes the quote "I use the media the way the media uses me -- to attract attention" without a trace of self-awareness. Here's a Time story about what a great launch the book had. Here's another from Yahoo. There have been critiques of his policy, but that only implies that we should be taking him seriously. It's like giving serious logistical thought to a child's proposal of fighting crime with an army of Jedi walruses instead of explaining that it's just a movie. No one's arguing, as the media watchdogs of freaking Booklist did in 1999, that "Lots of presidential candidates write books to promote their campaigns, but Trump may be the only man ever to run for president in order to promote a book."

Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images
The audio book contains a subliminal message encouraging you to buy Trump Natural Spring Water.

There's just a face value acceptance of Trump's ambitions now. Or to put it another way: In 1999, SNL ran a sketch mocking Trump's campaign. In 2015, they let him host the show.

#3. We're Much More Open To Craziness Now

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Between Trump proposing a ban on Muslims entering the United States, calling Latinos a bunch of turbo-rapists, and slandering the Irish with words so unspeakable I dare not repeat them here, he sounds like a rambling old man who's upset that he can't call Asians "Chinamen" anymore. But that's really no different than his views in 2000, when he wanted to overthrow Castro, invade North Korea if they ignored an ultimatum to disarm, throw even more Americans into an overcrowded prison system, and perform public executions.

Oh, but he had a tax policy straight out of a Rush Limbaugh fan's nightmare of socialist America -- a one-time 14.25 percent tax on anyone with more than 10 million dollars to pay off the national debt in one fell swoop. Putting aside the devastating shock that would deliver to the economy, it sounds like a proposal from a 15-year-old who just learned about communism and can't stop talking about how it's theoretically the perfect system.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images
I'm sure Miss America here would be thrilled by that idea.

He's less consistent than a nursing home that ran out of Metamucil. He wanted to privatize social security but introduce public healthcare. Yeah, Donald Trump, arch-conservative, proposed a government program more liberal than Obamacare. But now he wants to abolish Obamacare (but keep social security public). He used to support longer background checks on guns and a ban on whatever "assault weapons" were defined as the week he was asked about them, and now he wants guns everywhere so citizens can play hero. Trump is the kid on the playground who ate worms so the other kids would look at him, and when his shtick got old, he started asking what he should eat instead. "Hey, I see you guys are all looking at that cockroach in the corner. What if I ate that? Or are you more into rats now? I'll eat a rat. I'll eat anything."

Trump has always been happy to propose whatever crazy idea will get him on the front page, but now we're guaranteeing him the spot. No one took Trump's 2000 tax plan seriously, and there was certainly no one who endorsed a war with North Korea. Before 9/11, George W. Bush's winning foreign policy proposal was "Hey, I think we should be less interventionist." Now, Republican candidates are tripping over themselves to provide the manliest ways to shoot down Russian planes and start a war. Trump wasn't even the first candidate to speak against Muslim immigrants -- Bobby Jindal, who has the charisma of a wet sock, said it's completely reasonable to discriminate against them. Trump just said it the loudest and angriest, and also, in what I'm sure is a total coincidence, hours after he dropped in the polls.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images
"Who do you hate and fear, sir? The Welsh? I can work with that!"

Dedicating the news cycle to Trump's insanity and then getting shocked when he says something outrageous is like giving your dog a treat for shitting in your bed and then acting surprised when he does it again. Turning Muslims into boogeymen is easy political fodder -- they're only about 0.8 percent of Americans and they don't vote Republican (anymore). But it only works if people pay attention. The kid on the playground stops eating worms if everyone -- including those who just want to gawk at how gross and desperate he is -- stops watching.

After 9/11, George W. Bush praised America's Muslims. After the San Bernardino shootings, Republican candidates, Trump among them, competed to have the most hysterical response. But they're only saying what they think will help them get elected, which says more about us than it does about them.

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