The first big Republican debate is over, drawing a record cable viewing audience. And—predictably—the Donald was the star of the show, leaving the rest of the Republican clown car standing on the corner, waiting for a cab with a dime in their pockets and a forsaken look on their stupid faces while he speeds ahead in his limo. And going forward—don’t kid yourself about this—the Donald will be the one setting the agenda.
When the debate participants were all asked to raise their hand if they would consider a third party candidacy, the Donald was the only one with his hand in the air. This drew a collective gasp from the assembled audience, and no doubt sent a shiver down the spines of the big Republican donors. The last thing these fat-cat donors need is a third-party candidacy. Remember Ross Perot in the 1992 election. This basically handed Bill Clinton the election. If the Donald decides to run as an independent because he’s “not getting the proper respect” as he himself phrased it right on stage then the big Republican donors will see all their donations, their hundreds of millions in Super-Pac money, go up the chimney in smoke. These are wealthy people, but they don’t want to see their money go away in a lost cause.
The last thing these fat-cat donors need is a third-party candidacy.
This will force them double down on their investment, raise maybe as much as a hundred and fifty million dollars just to buy the Donald off—get him to withdraw himself as an active candidate and just go away, clearing the way for their hand-picked establishment choice. No kidding. This is the likely outcome as long as the Donald can keep his poll numbers about where they are now. And don’t think that the Donald is going to go quietly or inexpensively. As he said right on stage, this is his leverage. And he’s going to use it to his maximum benefit.
But he’s going to have to go or the Republicans will lose another national presidential contest and be done as a viable political party. In this game (probably to no one’s great surprise) the Donald is holding all of the cards. He has the Republican party establishment and their wealthy donor class by the proverbial short hairs and in the classic bend-over position. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of folks. Either they pay up to buy him off, or he’ll sink their leaky little boat and put an end—long-term—to their corrupt crony capitalism.
In finance there’s an expression when something totally unexpected happens, comes out of the blue, it’s called an “exogenous factor”. In this presidential sweepstakes, the Donald is the exogenous factor the plutocrat millionaires and billionaires never saw coming. And now they have a political hot poker right up their collective ass. Jeb Bush will never be President of the United States, and neither will any of those other clown car candidates on the Fox debate stage. But the Donald could very well make it. Probably to no one’s great surprise, since the debate, the showman Trump has mastered the cable news cycle. Coverage of him is almost 24/7, eclipsing by far the other candidates. Trump is consuming all the air-time. First for his ongoing feud with Megyn Kelly, and yesterday for his new found appreciation for women and qualified support for Planned Parenthood. As well, the Donald made some forceful remarks about going after ISIS in Syria and Iraq and “taking the oil”. Of course there are no details on just how he would accomplish this. But Americans voters ( particularly the ones who are now giving the advantage to Trump in the polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire) don’t really care about details, but they do like the jingoistic talk.
Republican voters like candidates and politicians who talk tough—particularly when it comes to war.
Republican voters like candidates and politicians who talk tough—particularly when it comes to war. But that’s the Donald’s real strength, he’s not really a politician. That’s why he can say and do whatever he wants—tossing out completely the usual Republican playbook. In the past he was for a single-payer health care system. Anathema to his base and the party elites who someday might have to support him. He’s even said that the economy usually performs better under the Democrats. How’s that for honesty? Republicans created this Frankenstein monster and now they don’t know quite what to do with him—how to put this crazy Jack-in-the-Box back into his box.. The Washington pundits of course are all predicting Trumps eventual demise. But I’m not holding my breath for that to happen.
In this whole ongoing stage drama (comic opera?) Jeb Bush—the so-called Republican standard-bearer and Super-Pac darling— gets only an occasional spotlight from the media for his continuing slide in the polls and his still fumbling remarks on Iraq. Also this week he made another gaff on women’s health issues that he spent the rest of the week walking back. That’s the only time he gets any attention, when he flubs and says something stupid. The rest of the “Clown Car” Marco Rubio, Scott Walker and Ted Cruz are absent from the stage altogether. And nobody is duller or more hum-drum than Jeb Bush. If you think that Jeb is inspiring, you really need to have your pulse checked. That’s okay though. The Republicans always prefer to saddle up a dead horse. For his part though, the Donald is holding to his pledge not to promise that he won’t make a third party run for President.
A third-party candidacy by Donald Trump is the worst nightmare conservative establishment Republicans could imagine, and they’ll do anything to foreclose the chance of that happening. The Donald, however, has told the world that this is his “leverage” and he’s keeping it open as an option to insure that he gets the proper “respect”. Hard to misinterpret that. He’s telling the big fat-cat donors, the Republican elites, people who are used to ruling the world, that if they don’t support him then he’ll chart his own course—that is, providing he doesn’t flame-out. If that doesn’t happen, and he decides he has to take the third party route, he’ll be able to hold the whole Republican nominating process for ransom. Then the big donor class will be forced to pull-out all the stops (not to mention their wallets) and basically do anything to stop him. That could be something as simple as buying him off. Maybe at some point Trump just tires of the whole thing, gets bored with the reporters and himself and decides to pull the plug and just turn it into a business deal.
You don’t have to like him, but you have to admire him because he’s no chump and nobody’s fool.
Maybe the Republican bosses finally acquiesce (cave-in) and offer him the a fore mentioned hundred and fifty million dollars. The fat-cat Republican donor class could raise this money in a heartbeat. The Donald takes the cash—agrees to endorse their favorite “Clown Car” candidate, probably Mitt Romney—then goes home to his beautiful wife and back to building golf courses. After all expenses and the losses on his endorsement and promotional deals, he pockets a hundred million dollars and then writes another book about how he gamed the political system and out maneuvered the big party bosses. Maybe he even gets a new reality TV show. You don’t have to like him, but you have to admire him because he’s no chump and nobody’s fool. The Republicans to their dismay are now just learning that.
Let’s assume though that the Donald stays in the race and wins. I can hear the Republican gnashing of teeth already. After all, he probably wouldn’t be a Howdy Doody president like George W. Bush, a malleable and easily controllable puppet, someone who dutifully joins the choir and sings all the proper Republican hymns—just the kind of moron president the oligarchs like. The Donald—no doubt—would be his own man. So what might a Trump presidency look like? We’ll look at that in my next blog: “King Donald . . . and a Sprinkle of Fairy Dust”.
The Money Trader