One of the convenient things about having a lot of money is that you can have a lot of fun that the rest of us can’t afford.
If you’re George Soros, you can finance a lot of left-wing loungers to poison the nation’s politics. If you’re Hugh Hefner, you can put lubricious young women on your payroll and spend the day in silk pajamas pretending to be a stud. If you’re Ross Perot, you can run for president and, without actually meaning to, put a Bubba in the White House. If you’re Donald Trump, you can get a lot of attention just pretending to run for president.
When you’re filthy rich, there’s no shortage of people eager to help you spend your money, to help you believe that you can do those dozen impossible things before breakfast. Sometimes just the fun of curdling the cream in other people’s coffee is enough.
Only Donald Trump knows what he’s really up to, or whether he actually thinks he can get value for his money. If money is the mother’s milk of politics, ego is the red meat that makes a candidate’s heart beat in 4/4 time. But so far, The Donald shows only a small talent in the kitchen where campaign souffles rise or fall.
His bold skepticism of Barack Obama’s birth in the U.S.A. seems more like taunting of the mainstream press than actual belief that the president doctored the records. A bare mention of the word “birther” by a respectable public figure is enough to make a liberal journalist stain his BVDs, and watching the commentariat forced to talk about something the media consensus decreed a forbidden subject is reward indeed. “I don’t hear them talking about Mr. [Tim] Pawlenty or anybody else,” he says, unable to suppress a chortle. “They’re talking about Trump. And I can tell you, I’m their worst nightmare. I am not the person they want to run against, and they know it and I know it.”
Mr. Trump’s bold talk about supposedly inappropriate topics, such as the president’s birthplace and religious faith - his own and, by implication, the president’s - rattles and pains the chattering class. He knows that even if someone could prove the president was born in Kenya, it’s too late to do anything about it; the Supreme Court follows the election returns. But his talk about religious faith risks offending the evangelicals, too, the very group he panders to. His remarks to David Brody for “The 700 Club,” an evangelical program on ABC’s Family Channel, betray a remarkable misreading of evangelical beliefs and practices. Evangelicals (and Fundamentalists) are far more likely to be offended by pious condescension than impressed by the heartfelt convictions of the devout believer Mr. Trump says he is.
“I believe in God,” he told the interviewer. “I am Christian. I think the Bible is certainly, it is ‘the’ book. It is the thing … I’m a Protestant, I’m a Presbyterian. And you know I’ve had a good relationship with the church over the years. I think religion is a wonderful thing. I think my religion is a wonderful religion.” He said a lot of people send him Bibles, and the interviewer asked what he does with them. “Actually, we keep them in a certain place. A very nice place. But people send me Bibles. And you know it’s very interesting. I get so much mail and because I’m in this incredible location in Manhattan, you can’t keep most of the mail you get. There’s no way I would ever throw anything, to do anything negative to a Bible, so what we do is we keep all the Bibles. I would have a fear of doing something other than very positive so actually I store them and keep them and sometimes give them away to other people, but I do get sent a lot of Bibles, and I like that. I think that’s great.”
He’s not much of a churchgoer. “I go as much as I can. Always on Christmas. Always on Easter. Always when there’s a major occasion.” And then, as if catching himself stumbling on a sticky wicket, he added: “And during the Sundays. I’m a Sunday church person. I’ll go when I can.”
This is not what the Christians he’s trying to impress want to hear. They’re always hip to words aimed at tin ears. They’re the people most likely to tell The Donald: “You’re fired!”
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.