The Donald Trump sideshow

Printed from:

We’re confident that Donald Trump will not be president of the United States.  We also think it highly unlikely that Trump will become the Republican party’s nominee for the White House.

So why are the media paying so much attention to Trump?

For the same reason they can’t stop covering Caitlyn Jenner’s every move — ratings.

You see, like Jenner, Trump is a sideshow. And the media always love a good sideshow — better still if that show helps to paint the entire Republican party as a bunch of clowns.

Defenders of this summer’s Trump-heavy media coverage say that the press simply takes its lead from the polls. And, indeed, Trump currently leads his GOP rivals with 25 percent of Republican support in the latest FoxNews poll.

There is, of course, a legitimate question as to whether Trump’s poll numbers are driving the amount of Trump media coverage, or whether the round-the-clock Trump media coverage is, in fact, driving the polls. But, regardless of which came first (the constant media drumbeat of Trump, Trump, Trump, or the Donald’s popularity among a quarter of Republican voters), it is worth considering the significance of Trump’s August poll numbers.

To some extent, poll numbers are relative.  In an overly crowded presidential field, almost six months before the first primary, the Republican electorate is naturally splintered. As is typical, large numbers of voters support candidates with the best name recognition (Trump and Bush). The remaining voters are split between the numerous governors, senators, and other candidates running for president. As soon as the field begins to narrow, voter support that is currently diluted among the 15 lesser-known candidates will begin to coalesce around a handful of viable hopefuls. When that happens, Trump’s numbers (even if steady at 25 percent) will be much closer to those of his GOP rivals.

Trump’s numbers, however, will not remain steady.  His current level of support is a reflection largely of conservative voter distrust of the GOP establishment and of Trump’s willingness to say things that make the establishment uneasy.  But, as his inconsistent and ever-evolving record make clear, Trump is no principled conservative. He is, as columnist George Will recently noted, a conservative “of convenience.”

When push comes to shove, then, conservatives will not vote to make Trump the Republican party’s standard bearer. But, for now, they sure are enjoying messing with the Republican establishment that has, for years, taken them for granted.

Elsewhere on this page, contributing columnist Patrick J. Walsh argues that the media unfairly attack Trump. We agree that the predominantly liberal media often try to make Republicans, and conservatives in particular, look stupid. But, in this case, we think the bias is to be found not in the unfairness of the Trump coverage, but in the overabundance of Trump coverage.

Donald Trump is not a serious contender for the Republican nomination for president. He is not a man who is interested in the business of governing. Donald Trump is a bombastic exhibitionist. He is a man who will do whatever it takes to get attention and publicity — which is exactly the reason that the media love covering him and that people love watching him. But it is also the reason why Trump will never garner enough support to clinch the nomination.

Other NewBostonPost editorials:

Pro-choice = Anti-science

Fatherlessness: The root cause of income inequality

Obama + Kerry = Neville Chamberlain

A new voice for the rest of us