- - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Donald Trump knows how to hit his cue.

On Friday, the Huffington Post announced that it would no longer cover Mr. Trump as part of its 2016 GOP presidential primary coverage. Instead, it was moving him to the entertainment section.

“Trump’s campaign is a sideshow,” the liberal news outlet said. “We won’t take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you’ll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.”

The following day, the reality TV star jumped the shark with another outlandish statement designed to attract media attention — an attack on Sen. John McCain’s war heroism. “He’s not a war hero,” Mr. Trump said. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

The incident has sparked universal outrage. It shouldn’t. Trump for President is a midsummer special that fills the void while serious presidential contenders are on summer hiatus. The next president is busy raising money and building a grass-roots operation, not seeking another headline.

Mr. Trump’s campaign strategy is built on provoking the next headline by offending. It constantly requires him to outdo himself. Last week, it was immigrants. This week, it’s war heroes. Next week, single mothers. By the fall, babies, puppies and the ghost of Ronald Reagan.

“What Mr. Trump is offering is not conservatism, it is Trump-ism — a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense,” Gov. Rick Perry said of the reality TV star masquerading as a GOP candidate.

Mr. Trump isn’t a Republican. The single biggest recipient of Mr. Trump’s campaign contributions, according to a Washington Post analysis, is the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee of New York. He’s contributed to Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Kerry, Chuck Schumer and Ted Kennedy.

Voters concerned about illegal immigration will no doubt take offense with Mr. Trump’s long history of contributing to the Democratic politicians that have enabled the rampant illegal immigration he’s now attacking. Donald’s dollars have made their way to Attorney General Kamala Harris, a liberal Democrat that continues to defend San Francisco’s sanctuary city policies. She quietly donated the money to charity after Mr. Trump attacked Mexican-American immigrants.

Successful campaigns are about bringing together a coalition of disparate groups. Mr. Trump is a non-starter to every major coalition within the Republican Party. He’s backed a new income tax on the wealthy and endorsed universal health care.

“We must have universal health care,” Mr. Trump said in 2000 while running as a Reform Party candidate. “I’m a conservative on most issues but a liberal on this one. We should not hear so many stories of families ruined by health care expenses.”

For social conservatives, he’s flip-flopped on abortion and at one time publicly backed partial-birth abortion. For fiscal conservatives, he has demonstrated an utter contempt for private property rights. He continues to defend the ill-conceived Kelo decision that enables crony capitalists like Mr. Trump to steal property for private development.

Given all of these fatal flaws, why is Mr. Trump garnering any support?

“Many conservative voters feel utterly betrayed by a Republican establishment that has relentlessly marginalized them, their candidates and their beliefs. Mr. Trump is telling the base that he hears and shares its concerns,” writes Monica Crowley of The Washington Times. “The other candidates should take note: Running as if you have nothing to lose may, in fact, be the way to win.”

In this respect, Republicans owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Trump. Twenty-eight weeks before the first presidential primary and an eternity before the general election, he has forced the major Republican presidential candidates to find a way to discuss conservative issues, such as immigration reform, in a hopeful and optimistic manner.

Shawn Steel, a former chairman of the California Republican Party, is a member of the Republican National Committee.

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