Donald Trump (
by Steve Timmer
Aug 9, 2015, 3:00 PM

It’s like the Jerry Springer show, without Jerry

That was the most memorable line on Almanac last Friday evening, August 7th, uttered by Professor David Schultz, and describing the Fox News candidate debate the night before. It’s cracked me up every time I’ve muttered it under my breath for a couple of days now.

Professor Schultz followed it up with a story on his blog, Schultz’s Take, the next day. Please go and read it; here is the first graf:

Let’s be serious–this was not a debate it was pure entertainment.  More accurately, the first Republican presidential debate (including the junior debate for the also-rans or wannabees) was pure politainment.  It was the spectacle of demonstrating what happens when we merge politics and entertainment, we get politainiment.  It is about the transformation of news into entertainment where the focus is on ratings and making money, and it is about the effort of candidates to become media personas to succeed in politics.  This is what Ronald Reagan did, as did Jesse Ventura.  Now we have FOX, Donald Trump, the first debate,  and might I say, the departure of Jon Stewart from Comedy Central all occurring on the same night.  Welcome to politainment and the 2016 election cycle.

The professor had an earlier story about the Donald, too, that’s worth a read: You’re Fired: Why Trump Can’t Win (Or Why Trump Stands for what the GOP has Become). A sample:

Trump’s frontrunner status perplexes political pundits and journalists. It should not. For the last few decades, Trump’s signature mark has been his self-promotion — hotels, books, product line, television show.  Trump is brand, no different than Coke or McDonalds, and his early lead reflects that. His popularity is name recognition, reflecting the old adage that any news coverage is better than none.

With a crowded field of 16 declared Republican candidates [17 now, I think, ed.], Trump stands out — as did Ventura in Minnesota — as the anti-politician, someone with both better name recognition, and a mastery of the media his opponents simply don’t have. He has a personality that contrasts against a backdrop of bland politicians.

I enjoyed David’s reflections on the Meaning of Trump, and I think you will, too. The professor discusses what writer Frank Rich describes this way: The Republicans made a Faustian bargain (Kevin Phillips’ southern strategy) and now the devil is here to collect.

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