Let’s begin with the late Andrew Breitbart’s often repeated quote:
Politics is downstream from culture.
Meaning, culture influences politics, not the reverse – and until conservatives figure out a way to take the culture back from the left, we cannot win.
Viewing this election season through that prism – one could argue that Trump is actually trying that: a candidate FROM the culture, not from the body politic. And what a culture he’s coming from. But, does that matter?
Do this exercise, as I told Five viewers earlier: imagine a Republican governor or senator saying what Trump has been saying, gaffes included… the stuff about McCain, Kelly, Carly, his daughter. That candidate would already have his bags packed, in a cab, to the airport, like those final precious minutes of the Apprentice.
But Trump travels in a bubble of immunity: which he accurately deemed “entertainment.” He says “I’m an entertainer,” and people are buying it because it’s completely true. He’s entertaining! So now, it’s almost like he’s a member of a group that affords him special protection (And where have we seen that before? I’ll answer that: Obama).
Which makes him appealing, but lazy (we’ll get to that lazy part later).
He’s the first Republican to come from culture (don’t say it was Reagan – for although he was an actor, he was also governor twice before he became President), precisely because people know him as Donald Trump, the guy from TV – not Donald Trump, some jet-setting senator from wherever. He is the first Culture candidate – and his impact is flowing downstream onto politics.
He’s boxing out his rivals by refusing to play politics, and instead going full pop culture. It’s less a campaign, and more a comedy tour – a traveling comedian who can say what he wants. And the massive crowds enjoy it, the same way many enjoyed Obama during his candidacy. He’s the Don Rickles of candidates.
It’s not pretty, but it’s propulsive. And I wonder if this culture-to-politics invasion is perhaps the ONLY way in 2015 to get a lot of people (brain-bent to hate Republicans) to pay attention to a Republican candidate.
Because the right has been segregated from culture for so long, Republicans are seen as evil, cold, incapable of articulating the issues – no matter how right they are on most stuff. Perhaps it takes an iconic TV name to carry the flag, albeit loud and obnoxiously. It could have been Clint Eastwood. Or Sinise. But it’s neither. (To Trump’s credit – he did my show – showing that he doesn’t care the way so many Holly-cons do, about their image. But then again, it’s not like he could lose a career over his opinions!
Trump pisses me off – mainly because his gaffes and exhausted repetitions are a product of laziness and pettiness. Meaning, they are preventable. His stolen joke about Senator McCain; the creepy blood comment; the crass thing about Carly, his convoluted stands on taxes and health care; his obsession over China; his exaggerations over Mexico – it’s all throwaway riffage. Like a guy playing Stairway to Heaven over and over with his guitar at parties.
I wish he would say something of depth about terrorism, and read more and riff less. Meaning: now that you got the attention, why NOT TRY for Christ’s sake!
His non-ideological swagger might serve as a potential bridge to new non-liberal voters. But we can’t count on the possibility that he might fulfill his vast promises – after he’s elected – without first grilling him on specifics before.
Imagine if a contestant on the Apprentice said to Donald: “Hire me and I will sell the most Trump ties ever! I’ll sell so many Trump ties, you’ll be sick of Trump ties!”
Donald would say, “Prove it and sell them now.”
(Which is exactly what we’re saying, when we scream for facts and stats– not anecdotes and emotionalism on autism.)
If a contestant says “No, hire me first, before I prove myself,” Donald would show him the door. Yet, that’s his own strategy now, as he runs for president.
He’s saying, “We got problems, and if you elect me I’ll fix them. I’ll hire the people.” That’s not enough. There’s too much at risk to trust a promise like that.
Trump’s arrival may be polarizing among the right, but if it’s causing riots at the hardware store, I must be missing it. Happily: America rejects ideology; hell, right now most Americans aren’t even paying attention to anything that isn’t wearing a football helmet. But the biggest laugh is watching the right’s most ideological and angry embrace the party’s least ideological candidate since forever.
Trump might be the only way for a rightie to get beyond the incessant wall of media ridicule. As an entertainer, he can speak to the America beyond that barrier – not just crossing boundaries but leap frogging.
Everyone knows him, and he’s upstream, preaching downstream to an America ambivalent about politics, anxious about the world, but loves a good show. If he gets the nomination, he may get more black support than any Republican prior. My gut tells me there are a lot of young minorities who would rather be a rich capitalist than an activist opining on MSNBC.
This avenue is a gamble, and it’s one that Trump must first convince us to take. He must offer more than speeches where he lamely repeats “I’m a winner” over and over in different variations. He must unite the country, and convince us that he’s actually looking outward, and forward. He might want to get serious.
And that’s the big flaw really – one exacerbated by his supporters, fans and defenders. They are willing to accept his sloppiness, and cavalier attitude toward specifics – because they’re buying the “warts and all” package. And Trump has the kind of warts that a Trumpet would impeach Obama for having in bunches.
These warts sprout precisely BECAUSE of the unconditional acceptance of Trump. I’ll say this until I’m Trump-red in the face: criticism is your guardrail. Without it, you go off the cliff.
Why do rock stars die young?
Why do celebrities fall prey to lurid scandals?
Because, surrounded by terrified and glassy-eyed sycophants, the star has no one to tell them “NO.”
Someone has to slap the hand, and say, do better.
Because, it’s not just about you anymore, Donald.
It’s about a party, a country and our future.
Greg Gutfeld is a mainstay on Fox News as co-host of The Five and host of The Greg Gutfeld Show. He’s also the NY Times best-selling author of Not Cool and The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage. For more from Greg check out his official site or follow him on Twitter.