Donald Trump has been fired. It was a self-inflicted wound. He fired himself.
Trump bowed out of the presidential race -- after leading the public and the pundits astray for many weeks. This guy makes P.T. Barnum, the circus impresario, look like an amateur. But, while Barnum beat the drums for the shortest man in the world or the bearded lady, this guy has been beating the drums only for his favorite performer -- himself.
He has taken himself out of presidential contention with a statement loaded with conceit. “I maintain the strong conviction that, if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately the general election.”
But, says the master manipulator, “business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.”
In the Bronx, where I grew up, these would be seen as the words of a phony baloney.
But some of us took him at his word when said he was considering a race. Polls of Republican voters did show him on the rise, passing other candidates in popularity, topping out at 26 percent. His numbers increased as he pressed the issue of Obama’s birth certificate, but after Obama released his long-form certificate, Trump’s poll numbers crashed. He went from 26 percent to 8 percent as of May 11.
The Los Angeles Times wrote: “That hissing sound you hear is the air rapidly leaking out of the presidential balloon that kept Donald Trump floating above the political confusion that marked the race for the Republican presidential nomination.”
I talked to veteran political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. He quoted an old Democratic district leader in Brooklyn as saying: “'You can’t beat nobody with nothin’.' And this guy had nothin.”
Sheinkopf said that Trump got some traction from raising the birth certificate issue. But, the consultant observed, “people are not stupid. They realized the birther issue was phony so they didn’t respond to it. And Trump is a wise man. He’s getting out while the getting’s good."
Sheinkopf believes the Republicans have one good issue: debt. But, Sheinkopf says, they don’t know how to frame it so it can impress average voters. “Everybody is in debt these days and Republicans have a great opportunity to relate on a human level to many people. But they’re not doing it.”
For a while Trump had all of us scratching our heads and wondering how serious he was. Trump was New York’s Don Quixote, the Knight of the Big Apple, out on a struggle to destroy the Evil One in the White House. That he never got a chance to meet Obama in battle nor capture the White House and decorate it with a Donald Trump logo in every room isn’t so bad.
It proves that you can’t beat somebody with nothin’.