We’re finally getting a little comic relief in the 2016 presidential campaign, which hasn’t actually started yet. But it’s important to get it out of the way so we can get on with the race of 2020. That one will pit Chelsea Clinton, avenging her mother’s second calamitous attempt to match her daddy’s accomplishments, against George P. Bush. We won’t run out of Clintons and Bushes for at least a hundred years.
The early ‘16 returns from Dixville Notch, the village in New Hampshire that traditionally votes first, should be in soon. All the registered voters show up at midnight in Dixville Notch and drop their ballots in the box at the stroke of 12. Their duty done, they go home to bed, which is what a lot of voters already want to do, and we’re not even halfway there yet.
We need the comic relief, and like little children, Donald Trump can always be counted on to say the darndest things, usually about himself. The Donald often blows hard, but he’s funny, sometimes even witty, and says things a lot of people think and would like to say, but are afraid. First Amendment or not, talking out loud can be risky in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The Donald is very, very rich — just ask him — so he can afford to stick his thumb in anybody’s eye that deserves a thumb. He can fire people but nobody can fire him.
The Donald is guaranteed press, some of it good and some of it not so good, but there’s always lots of it. The political correspondents usually operate without an institutional memory — history was first recorded only six months ago — and with little context. The Donald can be used to make Republicans look mean, snarky and foolish. He’s what newspapermen used to call “good copy.” He says whatever pops into his head, looking for an exit. Frankness can be amusing, depending on who’s on the other end of the taunt. A few pithy samples:
On Jeb Bush: “I think Bush is a nice man. He’s a man who doesn’t want to be doing what he’s doing. I call him ‘the reluctant warrior,’ and warrior’s probably not a good word. I think Bush is an unhappy person. I don’t think he has any energy, and I don’t see how he can win.”
On the other Republican candidates: “The other candidates — they went in, they didn’t know the air conditioning didn’t work. They sweated like dogs. They didn’t know the room was too big because they didn’t have anybody there.”
On John Kerry and his negotiations with the mullahs in Iran, who so far have been eating his lunch, including the shrimp, lobster and pork chops: “I will stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. And we won’t be using a man like Secretary Kerry who has absolutely no concept of negotiations, who’s making a horrible and laughable deal and then goes into a bicycle race at 72 years old and falls and breaks his leg. I won’t be doing that. And I promise, I will never be in a bicycle race.”
On the wave after wave of illegal aliens, hurrying to the United States to make a mockery of the orderly immigration that populated America: “I would build a great wall. Nobody builds walls better than me, believe me. And I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build that great wall on our southern border and I’ll have Mexico pay for that wall.”
On dealing with other nations, not from weakness but as from the Americans who used to be: “I know the smartest negotiators in the world. I know the good ones, I know the bad ones, I know the overrated ones. You get a lot of them that are overrated. They’re not good, but they think they are, they get good stories because the newspapers get buffaloed. They’re not good, but I know the best negotiators in the world. Believe me, folks, we would do very well.”
We might do better, anyway. A lot of people yearn for a president who takes a little pride in what a president is supposed to be, and in the country he’s elected to lead. Nobody, probably even the Donald, expects him to be that man. But it’s a lot of fun to hear a candidate talk like candidates used to talk. The Donald insists he’s not a braggart. Maybe he’s channeling the late, great Dizzy Dean. “It ain’t braggin’,” the St. Louis Cardinal fast-ball ace famously said, “if you can do it.”
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.