Why is it that only Donald Trump seems to have any fun at the Republican debates? Unlike 18 million of my fellow citizens, I listened to Tuesday’s debate on the radio, and without the glitz of the Las Vegas background and the body language of the performers, I was struck by how humorless and wooden were the performances: Ben Carson’s impersonation of a schoolboy reciting recently memorized foreign policy facts; Chris Christie morphing into Rudy Giuliani and trying to scare everybody; Ted Cruz doubling down on carefully targeted “carpet bombing” (“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less”).
Yes, we live in dangerous times, which demand seriousness, but we are also looking for a human behind the mask – which brings me back to Donald Trump, who seems to actually be enjoying running for president and whose off-the-cuff retorts contrast so sharply with the others’ carefully calibrated responses. I think part of his appeal, which has endured far longer than anyone thought, is due to his apparent openness, which gives one a glimpse into what kind of president this man would actually be.
What it has revealed, of course, is a man whom only Vladimir Putin could love – a man who insults all his Republican opponents but praises Putin as a strong leader whose poll numbers are more than twice those of Barack Obama.
His candor is good for us. Let's hope it sinks him.
Correction: in Wednesday’s post, the remembrance of Doug Tompkins was written by my son, Jake. The editor apologizes for the oversight.