Trump and Obama. Same Playbook?
I am sitting at the breakfast table, contemplating Presidential politics, wondering who would end up being the nominees and knowing that NO ONE has a clue how this will all turn out. Then it hit me like a two ton heavy thing...Donald J. Trump is actually using Barack Obama's playbook with some heavy editing. Hear me out on this one.
People complain that Trump has no experience in government. Obama had very little experience as well. Right after being sworn in as a US Senator and as soon as he could get the furniture set up in his new office, Obama began his purposed journey to the White House.
People say that they don't know how Trump would vote or what he stands for. Obama, when he actually voted, pretty much toed the party line. I don't believe he authored any significant legislation during his short time in federal or state office. No paper trail there.
Obama was a rock star. He had star power after that eloquent 2004 Democrat National Convention speech where he said "There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America." Everyone wanted to believe that he meant it. It sounded so so pretty.
Trump is a rock star, exemplified by his iconic phrase "You're fired." He has a well-run real estate empire, but he chose early-on to leverage his name and his celebrity to become larger than life. If you have a reality TV show for 15 years and hundreds of articles written about you over your lifetime, there are going to be some interesting quotes to be pulled out of context (or even in context). So be it. Name recognition is not a problem for him. By the way, he had to do some "interesting" things to have an entertaining show otherwise it would have gone off the air after just one season.
Obama was the cool kid. Thin, "clean and articulate" and suave. He had it all. Street cred, popular friends and very little baggage. He was what "they" were looking for. After eight tiring years of Bush-43, America was hoping for a change (well at least 51% were.)
Trump is popular. Where Obama was a willing vessel through which Bush-fatigue could be channeled, Trump is a willing vessel through which Obama-fatigue AND Establishment-fatigue can be channeled. Where Obama was as smooth as Billy Dee Williams drinking a Colt 45, Trump can be as abrasive and shocking as Andy Kaufman while still saying things which no one else dare say beyond the confines of bull session amongst friends. After eight years of Obama, a large segment of America is ready for a change and Trump represents change... YUGE change.
Where the two men diverge is that Obama was a closed book. Specifics were in short supply. Details were non-existent. Trump is an open book. There are no real secrets surrounding The Donald. Details on Trump, the man, abound. Details on policy are nebulous and few, but any politician who preaches specifics is deluding him/herself and basically lying to their constituency. To quote Styx "Nothing ever goes as planned. It's a hell of a notion."
Recognizing Obama as an exemplar of the new normal, Trump realizes that one can get nominated and elected with very little substance. Those of us who cared to look saw Obama as a wolf in sheep's clothing. As Marco Rubio said (four times) in the last debate, Obama knew what he was doing. Those of us who either didn't care to look, liked what he said, or didn't care to even check swept Obama in on a euphoric wave of Hope and Change. Well, we got change and I believe a large number of Americans like it... at least the idea of what it was supposed to be, if not the reality of what it actually became. (It is easy to justify failure by blaming the opposition for not allowing the perfect plan to come to fruition.)
Trump is selling the idea of "Making America Great Again" vs. Obama's "Fundamentally Transforming America". I understand where Donald is coming from and I like the idea. So do millions of other disenchanted Americans. How will he pull it off? Who knows? Can he pull it off? It will be a slog with the Democrats in opposition. Dems are known for bringing new weapons to their fights. Could Bush-45 win against a recalcitrant Democrat minority? Hell no. Kasich? Doubt it, without giving away the store. Trump? Probably. Especially if he has the heart and support of a large number of voters. That was Reagan's formula. Trump has already shown a willingness to steamroll his opposition. How many on Capitol Hill would want to take him on? Who wants to be his first casualty?
Unless Trump is the consummate liar, I think he means what he says and he will try to do what he says he will do. I also believe that the so-called single-issue voters aren't so single-issue this cycle. Evangelicals aren't stupid, but they compare Trump with his zeal and enthusiasm with Bernie or Hillary and it is No Contest.
Trump's audience on TV transcended Red America and Blue America. The high-brow may have had their TVs locked on PBS and Masterpiece Theatre, the clueless may have had their noses buried in their smartphones, binge-watching The Walking Dead, but the millions who watched The Apprentice and WWE are ready for a change and I think they are hoping that Donald Trump makes it to the finish line.