Republicans love to quote Ronald Reagan, but if they really understood him, they wouldn’t be attacking Donald Trump.
During the 1980s presidential campaign, a snide reporter once asked Reagan this question: “How can an actor run for president?” To which the future U.S. president replied, “How can a president not be an actor?”
I can imagine Trump saying something similar today: How can a president not be a reality TV star?
Ronald Reagan was president during my most formative years, but there was another guy in a white shirt and red tie that had a tremendous impact on me: Donald Trump. But for these two men, this Irish Catholic kid from Chicago’s South Side would have been just another Democratic precinct captain shuffling around city hall. Instead, I’m a conservative and an entrepreneur.
That’s why I know something the political powers that be apparently don't know: It’s not wise to underestimate Donald Trump.
Not only has Trump roiled the establishment Republican Party, whose leadership had already predetermined Jeb Bush was to be the nominee, but he has also disrupted U.S. presidential elections as we know them.
He has put the political class in turmoil: According to the latest poll, Trump still leads the GOP presidential pack despite his to run-in with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly (no relation).
The battle lines have been drawn. On Trump’s side, conservative icon Rush Limbaugh ripped Megyn Kelly’s “war on women” question, calling it a fictitious remnant of an attack on Republicans by Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos.
Since when does a “Republican” defend the likes of Rosie O’Donnell anyway?
Radio host Mark Levin went even further, blasting Fox for having a “National Enquirer debate, not a Republican debate” and that the network owes people “an apology.”
Regardless of where you stand on the “blood coming out of her [Kelly's] wherever" dust-up, the real estate tycoon has turned the political universe on its ear, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
The billionaire star of “Celebrity Apprentice” has a presidential playbook that could have been penned by Mark Burnett himself.
He is a virtuoso of social media and the 24-hour news cycle. He is a diviner of what makes people tick. In a world where success is determined by “views,” his entertainment brand trumps all.
With his viral arsenal, Donald Trump has turned the 2016 presidential campaign into his latest reality TV show and America is glued to the screen. Make no mistake about it; he is employing every reality TV strategy in this campaign.
I am not saying this to disparage Donald Trump. He understands that "reality" is the new reality and it’s just what the Republican Party needs right now.
With the exception of Reagan, can you name one GOP candidate for president in recent memory who knew how to handle the media?
GOP candidates have always had a serious handicap: They’re like the political version of “The Stepford Wives.” They never go off-script. They are not allowed to be human.
So how can they connect with this very “human” electorate? This is a Republican problem; post-Bill Clinton Democrats are not held to any such moral standard.
Republicans take note: Trump doesn’t play that game. He knows the art of the media’s deal: Master controversy — don’t fear it.
He’s pugnacious, outspoken, and unapologetically politically incorrect. How else should a Republican candidate deal with a hostile media? Should he get down on his knees and beg for forgiveness?
Over the weekend, Trump said Megyn Kelly should be apologizing to him and called his opponents “deviants” for claiming his “blood comment” referred to menstruation. He says he meant the Fox anchor’s “nose.”
Would Mitt Romney ever have had the guts to say that? Lesson learned.
Last November, Americans gave Republicans control of Congress with this caveat: Take action or else. Fed-up voters are worried about the future and they want solutions to the problems that threaten America’s safety and security: $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities, terrorism, illegal immigration, and a bankrupt Social Security system.
The political kick-the-can has gone on long enough.
Donald Trump may be the “or else.” If that doesn’t bring the GOP leadership back to reality, nothing will.
Who knows? In the future, Republicans might be quoting Donald Trump after all.
William J. Kelly is an American producer, television and radio host, commentator, media strategist, and critic. In 1994, he ran for U.S. Congress, and in 2010 for the seat of state comptroller for Illinois. He is the founder of RevDigital, an independent TV and documentary production house. Kelly is a frequent contributor to The Washington Times, American Spectator, and others. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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