Betting on The DONALD

My great mate, Dr. Bonny, and I have waged a steak dinner on the 2016 election. If the race IS Hillary against Trump, I win. Any other matchup makes her the winner.

Fox News’ attempt to narrow the GOP field to 10 wannabes produced a huge TV audience and a debate that divided the pundits. Some thought the Trump campaign jumped the tracks on more than one of his responses. I saw his warmly awaited gun-slinging as giving him more momentum – as did the majority of the media.

It seems clearly to me that he leaves the GOP with only one choice: him. Who’s going to break his momentum? Surely not another Bush, though Jeb may well be the best of the lot. George W. left the name and the presidency dripping in the worst recession since the Great Depression, with poverty at an all-time high and the banks near collapse. American voters are famous for short memories, but not that short.

Trump gives the party the ticket-topper it has long dreamed of: billionaire. Romney in 2012 came only close, among other shortcomings.

He ruled the Fox stage from the first question, which had to be aimed at him because he leads the polls by a wide margin. Some cynics suggest that he rigged it – by greasing a few palms.

He was more than ready. When asked if he wasn’t the nominee, would he support the candidate who was, or make a 3rd Party bid, his reply that he was leaving that door open, guaranteed that the whole evening, running later into the inevitable media frenzy, would keep him center stage. I’m liking my odds.

With his fame and fortune rolling onward (what other candidate arrived in Cleveland in his own oversized get, with TRUMP in huge letters on each side?), what are the Republican alternatives? Who might compete with that fame and fortune? Or with his style, so loudly, bullish Republican?Despite the third-strike risk of his name, Jeb seems to have the edge so far. He’s well ahead of the pack in fund-raising, with millions already banked for the campaign. Yet Trump again commands an edge, free to run on his own billions. The candidacy of someone who bears no large debt to any backers has rich appeal to voters.

The dark horse might well be the Wisconsin governor. But the tainted campaigns that have kept him in that post have marked him very plainly as the lapdog of the Koch Brothers. And we all know what the Kochs expect, an economy that remains heavily geared to oil and chemicals, which are the core of their vast holdings. Climate change?

The chances that Trump won’t head the GOP ticket seems most likely to hinge on whether he self -destructs, but there are signs that he’s getting some feel for the limits of bombast he can spout. Yet he carries another obvious handicap that is already working against his party: the war on women. Republicans may be getting more abuse for this than they deserve in general, but it plays as three strikes delivered by fringes on the right: the anti-abortion evangelicals, the opponents of choice, and the men who traffic in flesh.

Trump has shown too little tendency to treat women as equals. His wives have been widely viewed as trophy wives. How it might play in a campaign against Hillary Clinton is uncertain. It may never play on the surface of that matchup. Hillary has to be aware that many women are still unhappy that she didn’t dump Bill for his wanton sex life. But they also know that her eyes were wide open in days they shared at Yale, where his appetite played freely and openly. She chose to marry him for the benefit of his other talents, including his deep love of country, which has kept him public favor.

This will be an interesting subtext to the campaign. How much might Hillary be blamed for Bill’s sins? But she won’t make VP Gore’s mistake of rejecting his support. As a campaigner of unmatched charm, he will be going 24/7 to give her the shot she deserves, and to make himself a first of history: the Hubby in the White House. His health may well be her biggest worry. Some pundits aver that if Trump is nominated, Hillary will carry all 50 States. The women’s vote looms as the largest quandary. There’s no doubt how different Bill is from The Donald. However fairly, the latter is known as a user of women. With Bill, the girls all know they play as their own risk.

My odds keep me laughing. I’m so comfortable with the feeling that Trump versus Clinton is almost inevitable. More debates seem bound to improve my odds.

Frank Mensel — August 2015

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