A reality TV star without a camera spotlight is like a fish out of water—taken out of their natural environments, both will surely perish. This explains the decision by real estate mogul and shameless attention seeker Donald Trump’s to moderate an upcoming GOP debate; the real question, however, is why was Trump tapped for the moderator role in the first place. Was the move made in an attempt to boost ratings? Or was it done to excite regular viewers with a bit of stunt casting? Regardless of the motivation, the debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on December 27 starring Trump promises to be the biggest comedy hit of the season.
Surely you don’t think The Donald is helming this three-ring circus because of his extensive knowledge of foreign policy, do you? Unlike previous debate moderators such as CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper, Trump has no journalistic bona fides that attest to his impartiality and credibility. After all, this is a man who proved while running for president that he has a shaky grasp of basic facts, most notably the birthplace of President Barack Obama. Lovers of the democratic process may wail in despair over Trump’s selection as debate moderator, but fans of real-time satire saddened by pizza tycoon Herman Cain’s exit from the race now have another attention-starved blowhard to laugh at in an increasingly laughable election cycle.
Even the fact that Trump’s presidential campaign failed so spectacularly wasn’t enough to deter the conservative website Newsmax, which is sponsoring the Iowa debate, from extending its invitation to Trump. As Newmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy notes, “Our readers and the grass roots really love Trump. They may not agree with him on everything, but they don’t see him as owned by the Washington establishment, the media establishment.”
Apparently Ruddy delivered this proclamation while living under a proverbial rock, or he would’ve recognized that an individual who’s been in the media spotlight for over 30 years and who has a long-running TV show can hardly be deemed outside "the media establishment." Be that as it may, Trump hasn’t let his "outsider" status stop him from mulling yet another high-profile presidential bid or from holding court on the relative strengths and weaknesses of the current Republican contenders. The question left unasked, however, is this: If Trump’s outside-the-beltway mentality is so appealing to voters, how will other "reformed insiders" like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich ever hope to distinguish themselves from the field and claim the mantle as The One Who Will Clean Up Washington?
While Gingrich, for one, has unabashedly solicited Trump’s support, other GOP candidates have been a little cool towards Trump’s involvement. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney have all cited Trump as the reason why they’ll be bowing out of the late December debate. In a clear demonstration of their animus towards Trump, as well as a testament to their good taste, Paul went out of his way to attack Trump by sarcastically commenting that he was unaware that The Donald "had the ability to lay on hands and anoint people." Huntsman declined to "kiss his ring…[or] any other part of his anatomy," while Romney for his part merely declined the invitation. Predictably, Trump hasn’t taken the criticism well and has snidely derided all three candidates. You might say that this sort of backbiting is indecorous and not in keeping with the high standards of a presidential race. But once you consider the ridiculousness of the current field of candidates, and that Trump himself was once a part of that field, the whole spectacle seems terribly and hilariously apt.
When even party cheerleader Karl Rove questions the appropriateness of Trump’s role in the upcoming debate, it’s clear that we’ve moved into the Twilight Zone as far as electoral politics are concerned. Trump is little more than a self-parody who is only taken seriously by a media that inexplicably hangs on his every absurd word. But when you stare into the abyss, sometimes the best response is to laugh just so you won’t be driven insane.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore