There’s an old adage attributed to many pundits that aptly applies to Donald Trump’s campaign to become our next president: “I don’t care what you say about me, as long as you say something about me, and as long as you spell my name right.”
To Trump, any publicity is good publicity. It’s like a bad commercial repeated ad nauseum. Sooner or later you start singing along with the Kars4Kids jingle.
And the media is compliant. Instead of pressing him for details, the media simply regurgitates his mouthings. Over the weekend, Trump called Hillary Clinton “weak.” The press didn’t ask for any proof; they merely and freely publicized this unfounded and clearly misogynist allegation. (To be fair, the media haven’t treated Hillary any differently than Trump’s Republican primary opponents. The press simply repeated over and over his unsubstantiated slurs and insults.)
Given the choice of showing a plodding Clinton artfully explaining why she is better qualified to be president, or Trump popping out a new absurdity that on the surface reinforces her argument, the media become his co-conspirator in co-opting the electoral dialogue. To the media, both old and new, both print and electronic, Trump is the sexier story. It’s an eyeball economics game they are playing, so naturally they go with Trump, the future of the republic be damned.
With each passing day we are treated to a new version of Donald Trump. After the massacre at the Sandy Hook School he praised President Obama for taking a strong stance against gun violence. “President Obama spoke for me and every American in his remarks in #Newtown Connecticut,” Trump tweeted. Last Friday he told the National Rifle Association annual convention he would do away with gun-free zones, even in schools (http://nyti.ms/240ezSs). Over the weekend, he appeared to reverse fields yet again (http://wapo.st/259XUOz?tid=ss_mail).
How did he go from gun control to gun proliferation? He doesn’t tell us. It’s okay to change positions if the reasons for the change are carefully, logically explained. But Trump just spouts positions based on the audience before him.
He has reversed stands on a woman’s right to control her own body, on immigration, Planned Parenthood and a host of other issues (http://2016election.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=006327).
Moving from position to position makes it difficult to effectively attack him. Even in the face of video tape proof he denies contradiction. And the public seemingly does not care about his inconsistencies.
He is the political equivalent of Cassius Clay’s boxing bravado before his 1964 title bout against Sonny Liston: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Hard to hit but adept at striking sharply at his opponent.
After vanquishing Liston, Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Trump won’t change his name, but his title could become Mr. President if Hillary and the media let him enjoy free publicity without accountability through November.