On Tuesday, Donald Trump laid out the most entertaining campaign launch in presidential history. The stagecraft – descending his elevator in his tower behind his sexy wife – was magnificent. The Donald knew that the crowd expected The Donald, and thus he gave them Peak The Donald.
Here are the top seven moments from Trump’s speech:
“I Don’t Need Anybody’s Money. It’s Nice…I’m Really Rich.” This, in a nutshell, is what makes Trump awesome. Trump may be the only candidate in the race who isn’t ashamed of being wealthy. He sees wealth as something Americans should strive for and be proud of, not something Americans should degrade. Trump also said that he had lobbyists who could get him any policy he wanted, and that as president, because of his wealth, he wouldn’t be beholden to anyone. If Trump actually sticks to this pitch, he’d do a true service to America, where Mitt Romney is supposed to act contrite for earning lots of money and creating lots of jobs. “I’m proud of my net worth,” Trump said. “I’ve done an amazing job.” He then showed his financial statement, clocking in at $8.7 billion, and said, “I’m not doing that to brag.” Fantastic.
“I Would Build A Great Wall…Very Inexpensive…On Our Southern Border, And I Will Have Mexico Pay For That Wall.” Well, count Trump among those who actually believes in border security. Polls show that pretty much everybody is on board with the border fence notion. The bravado of saying he’d get Mexico to pay for the wall is also spectacular. This line was good. His description of many Mexican immigrants, not so much: “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists…and some I assume are good people.” Hrm, could have written that a bit better. As for his notion that Mexico acts as our enemy, it’s difficult to argue differently given the Mexican government’s obvious attempts to flood America’s southern border so that American money can come back to Mexico in the form of remittance payments.
“The US Has Become a Dumping Ground For Everybody Else’s Problems.” We rate this claim: true. The notion that everyone has a right to live in America, or that America must adopt the problems of every other nation because we happen to be prosperous lies behind most of the Obama administration’s immigration and international agenda.
“Obamacare…You Have To Be Hit By A Tractor, Literally a Tractor, To Use It, Because The Deductibles Are So High.” He then added that Obama had spent billions on a website, and that he owns many websites. Obamacare is a disaster; deductibles are increasing massively. Good thing Trump will probably buy all the tractors to protect us.
“How Stupid Are Our Leaders, How Stupid Are Our Politicians To Let This Happen?” Trump said the Chinese leadership is far smarter than Obama’s foreign policy team. “It’s like the New England Patriots and Tom Brady [playing] a high school team,” he opined. Hard to argue when the Obama administration somehow allowed a massive data breach ending with the stealing of millions of federal records by the Chinese. Trump pledged to outgun China in negotiations: “Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t have victories any more. When was the last time anybody saw us beating China in a trade deal? They kill us. I beat China all the time.” As other evidence of the stupidity of the Obama foreign policy team, Trump cited the trade of “no-good traitor” Bergdahl for five terrorists. Right on the money on that one, at least.
“Islamic Terrorism Is Eating Up Large Portions Of The Middle East…I’m In Competition With Them. They Just Built a Hotel in Syria.” Trump continued by saying that ISIS and Iran took the oil from Iraq that the United States should have taken. The buried lede: who in the world wants to build a hotel in Syria?
“How The Hell Can You Vote For This Guy?” Once again, Trump speaking for the masses on Jeb Bush. Jeb’s announcement had establishment Republicans and many media members giddy. But most people aren’t interested in another Bush vs. Clinton race, and Bush’s brand of bureaucratically-compassionate conservatism doesn’t wash. Trump rightly pointed out, “People are tired of spending more money on education per capita than any other country.”
So, could Trump change the race?
Like Peter Parker’s spidey-powers, Donald Trump’s personality is both his blessing and his curse in a presidential race. It takes an enormous ego to run for president; it takes an even bigger ego to do so after flirting with a presidential run for the better part of five years. Trump’s not short on ego, although that statement may do the man’s ego injustice. He’s also not short on cash, which would come in handy in a race with the loot-toting Clintons; brash talk, which would cut through the bureaucratic mumbojumbo of Clintonland and make for great YouTube cuts; theatrics, on full display during his escalator descent for his announcement speech.
The same ego, cash, and theatrical sensibility that makes Trump a fun character to watch get him in trouble, too. A disciplined announcement speech sprinkled with some tried-and-true Trumpisms would have served him far better than the meandering routine he put on full display. Trump must understand that he’s seen as a clown by the media – he’s too smart not to see that. But being seen as a clown can be advantageous, because it comes with zero expectations of actual substance. Every gaffe by Jeb Bush throws mud on his skirt; every lucid moment from Trump elevates him. Furthermore, because few take Trump seriously, that allows him to shrug off political moves of the past – donations to Democrats can be brushed off as the cost of doing business in a corrupt town, his birther routine a few years back can be dismissed as an attempt to keep President Obama honest.
Incredibly, Trump is uniquely positioned as a candidate if he gets out of his own way. Ross Perot won 19% of the American vote in 1992, and Herman Cain was once a presidential frontrunner. But to be taken seriously, he’ll have to get serious – at least serious enough to shock people. Serious, however, may not be the game plan.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.