Perhaps Trump is well-suited to be president. He has overseen bankruptcies, after all.
We speak of office holders growing into their jobs. Is Barack Obama shrinking into his? Mr. Cool has been showing signs recently of self-pity. “I miss being anonymous,” he told Hearst executives. “I miss Saturday morning, rolling out of bed, not shaving, getting into my car with my girls . . .” (We miss you doing all those things too, Mr. President.) He has also shown signs of ire. After an interview with Brad Watson, anchor of WFAA-TV in Dallas, he snapped, “Let me finish my answers the next time we do an interview, all right?” Now, let us stipulate that the pressures of the modern presidency are crazy-making; that no one, not even former vice presidents, has any true idea of them beforehand; that even happy warriors like Reagan, Ike, and FDR sometimes misspoke. How much harder it must be, then, for a tyro lofted by his youth and freshness?
Despite his messy personal life, history of liberalism, attention-seeking personality, and nutty birther claims, Donald Trump has risen to the top of some polls since hinting at a 2012 presidential bid. Republican primary voters who think his business credentials and name recognition outweigh his negatives should bear one more thing in mind: his lack of respect for the property of others. In the 1990s, he made two attempts to take real estate away from private owners by using “eminent domain” — in other words, he asked local governments to steal it and give it to him, with the promise that he would pay more in taxes than the previous owners did. One project was a proposed amusement park in Bridgeport, Conn., for which he needed land occupied by several businesses; the other was an Atlantic City casino that he wanted to expand onto the property of an elderly widow who did not want to sell. Trump failed both times (the park never panned out, and the elderly widow won a legal fight), but in 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that eminent-domain abuse was constitutional, and Trump cheered in an interview with Fox News’s Neil Cavuto. Trump should, at the very least, be pressed to add this to his growing list of flip-flops.
Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, is running for the Republican presidential nomination. Sometimes no-hope candidacies are designed to change the direction of a party. In Johnson’s case, the candidacy seems as much designed to change the direction of a tiny faction of it. Johnson represents those libertarians miffed at the ascension of Ron and Rand Paul within their movement because of the Pauls’ opposition to abortion and downplaying of drug legalization. The senior Paul is going to run again, too. Our libertarian friends will have to decide for themselves which direction they prefer, or else opt to support a mainstream candidate. On this much, at least, we agree with the Pauls: Abortion is hard to square with a political philosophy that abhors coercive violence.
We used to say that there was nothing so vile that it could not, or would not, be said about Clarence Thomas. And the same holds true for Sarah Palin. A well-known blog called Wonkette made brutal fun of Palin’s youngest child, Trig (who has Down syndrome). Under pressure from conservatives — from decent people, really — many companies pulled their advertising from Wonkette. These include Papa John’s, Nordstrom, and Coldwell Banker. Those who doubted that there was any limit to what could be said about Palin and her family, without consequence, have to be somewhat comforted.