I recently heard a panel of journalists complain on a radio show that Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump won't stop hijacking the news cycle and is effectively preventing them from covering other stories. There were no such complaints during Barack Obama's first presidential campaign, even when it consisted mainly of platitudes about "hope and change."
Trump is trying to win the reality game show of "Apprentice: U.S. President." History suggests that the strategy for winning consists of getting as much attention for yourself and your ideas as you can. So what's the problem? Don't like that he's good at it?
Trump's extensive track record as an entrepreneur proves that he's capable of closing his mouth and getting things done when the time comes -- a transition with which many politicians struggle. But Trump isn't in that role yet. He's in the job of "candidate" right now.
The only thing that surprises me about the reaction to the success of Trump's candidacy thus far is that there's any surprise at all. Why would American voters choose career politicians over a longtime entrepreneur with worldwide name recognition? Why would they eschew a candidate known for having survived difficult struggles to create value and opportunity in tough economic times when exactly the same thing is now desperately needed?
Is there a bigger insult to American voters than the oft-floated suggestion that Trump is just a distraction and that the election will be decided by Wall Street's huge donations to the super PACs of favored "institutional" candidates in exchange for favors to be determined post-victory? The implication is that you, the American voter, will ultimately be bamboozled into voting against your own interests, regardless of the choices placed in front of you.
The fact that this election cycle includes another Clinton and another Bush doesn't do much to dispel the notion that the entire U.S. electoral system has been reduced to little more than a thinly veiled oligarchy. The naked cash-for-power optics do nothing to discourage this perception, either. Trump's campaign represents an opportunity for Americans to take a first step in attempting to purge some of the unsavory elements from their democracy.
The arrogance displayed toward the significant number of people who happen to support Trump -- manifested through attempts to marginalize and diminish Trump despite his front-runner status -- now borders on shameful.
For example, a spokesman for former New York Gov. George Pataki, who ranks so low in the polls that he's in danger of missing an Aug. 6 debate for the top 10 Republican candidates and instead being relegated to a one-hour forum for candidates not invited to the debate, told the website The Hill that the forum for peripheral candidates "might end up being more substantive because the candidates won't have to respond to whatever idiotic thing Donald Trump says."
That's like saying, "Coca-Cola is idiotic. I'm so glad that my infinitely superior boutique soda isn't available nationwide." Good job insulting your own client base.
A few months ago, I wrote that America couldn't afford another "domestic" president, and that the next one had to be capable of thinking creatively about how to best position America on the global chessboard. As someone who has done business in many different international jurisdictions, Trump is about the best that America could hope for on that front -- perhaps with the sole exception of Hillary Clinton, whose family foundation has been stunningly adept at creative geo-economics, albeit to the benefit of the Republic of Clintonstan. At least with Trump, we can see the results. His name is even on the buildings.
One doesn't get the impression that Trump "owes" anyone politically, or that he has spent his life making quiet promises for the day that he gets elected to high office. Can the same be said of Hillary?
But now that he has our attention, Trump would benefit from an injection of realism.
Trump said during a recent Iowa campaign rally that he would have increased sanctions on Iran during the so-called "nuclear talks" to improve America's negotiating position. He should have said that he would have eliminated the sanctions exemptions that the U.S. Treasury has granted to American companies doing business with Iran.
Trump also said that the Ford plant in Mexico would have repatriated back to the U.S. the moment he threatened Ford with a 35 percent import tax. He seems to be confusing the realities of his CEO role with the role of a U.S. president, who has to first convince bought-and-paid-for members of Congress to support a tax levy.
The success of the Trump campaign hinges on whether the current momentum can be supported by credible ideas pitched to rhetoric-wary voters. Fortunately, that field is wide open.