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I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed when the Ron Paul campaign decided to skip the Republican "debate" being staged by Donald Trump. I was looking forward to seeing the most distinguished and honorable politician in the last fifty years making a fool out the megalomaniacal "moderator" with the appalling toupee.
It turns out, however, that Ron Paul didn't even have to show up in order to make a fool out of Donald Trump. Trump is one of those rare individuals who can't help making a complete ass out of himself when there is no one else around to do it for him, and this occasion was no different. Trump took the Paul campaign's bait and spectacularly embarrassed himself.
The Paul campaign declined to attend the "debate" precisely because Donald Trump had been named the so-called "moderator." In the Paul campaign's words:
The selection of a reality television personality to host a presidential debate that voters nationwide will be watching is beneath the office of the Presidency and flies in the face of that office's history and dignity. Mr. Trump's participation as moderator will distract from questions and answers concerning important issues such as the national economy, crushing federal government debt, the role of the federal government, foreign policy, and the like. To be sure, Mr. Trump's participation will contribute to an unwanted circus-like atmosphere.
The true brilliance of this press release should not be overlooked, whether it was intentional or not. The press release was careful to identify Trump alone as the sole deal-breaker as far as Ron Paul was concerned. The campaign did not name Newsmax, a neocon propaganda outfit that could not possibly be expected to give Ron Paul a fair shake in any "debate" it sponsored, as a reason for opting out.
Again, whether the Paul campaign knew in advance that Trump is a gigantic buffoon who couldn't help making an ass out of himself is unknown, but the press release could not have produced a better result, because it clearly hurt the flop-haired billionaire's feelings. He must have been relishing the idea of having all the Republican presidential candidates sitting in front of him, intently listening to his pompous voice somehow finding its way out of those peculiar lips, as if he was back on The Apprentice. He was finally going to be someone important in politics, someone the Republicans were going to have to listen to.
The Paul campaign's press release dashed the poor billionaire's hopes by announcing publicly that Ron Paul was refusing to attend. What is worse, the Paul campaign listed Trump alone as the reason for Ron Paul's refusal to attend, calling him a television clown, in effect, because of the "circus-like atmosphere" he would generate. Good Lord, what an insult!
His feelings hurt, Trump could no doubt have avoided making a complete ass of himself by expressing his regret that one of the forerunning candidates was not going to show up to his big event and leave it at that. But acting gracefully and honorably is not Trump's style, and so he decided to open his big mouth (metaphorically speaking in Trump's case, of course). What came out of his mouth must have made the head honchos over at Newsmax cringe.
Trump lashed out at the Paul campaign, saying he was "glad [Ron Paul] and Jon Huntsman, who has inconsequential poll numbers or a chance of winning, will not be attending the debate and wasting the time of the viewers who are trying very hard to make a very important decision." Since Newsmax and Trump had extended invitations to both Huntsman and Paul, which they did not have to do, Trump was playing the part of the spoiled child who, upon learning one of his classmates won't be attending his birthday party, screams out "Good, I didn't want him to come anyway." If Donald and Newsmax really didn't want Paul and Huntsman to attend, they wouldn't have extended invitations to begin with. After all, why would Donald agree to moderate what he considered to be a badly conceived debate that was scheduled to include distracting nobodies? Did he agree to moderate a badly conceived debate that included distracting nobodies just because he wanted to be on TV?
If he had limited himself to stating that he was pleased that Huntsman and Paul were not going to attend, Trump would not have made a complete ass of himself. Sure, he would have looked classless, which of course he is, but he would not have completely embarrassed himself. But Trump could not help tacking on some additional comments to ensure he looked ridiculous. It's his style. It's what he's known for.
Having a big mouth (again, very metaphorically speaking), Trump decided it would be a good idea to attack Ron Paul's chances of being elected. Now, setting aside the fact that Ron Paul has risen to be a top-tier contender in the polls, Trump made his comments as the scheduled moderator of this so-called "debate." Think about that for a minute. Trump is scheduled to "moderate" the debate to ensure that it is fair, and that each candidate has a chance to get his message through, and yet he decides it would be a good idea to attack one of the candidates before the event. Does that sound like something a moderator would do? Not only that, but the Paul campaign had specifically questioned Trump's ability to moderate as their reason for opting out of the debate, and yet Trump could not help but say something anathema to moderators everywhere. The poor guy walked right into the Paul campaign's trap!
All this would be bad enough, but Trump really went out of his way to viciously attack the Paul campaign. He did not, by contrast, go out of his way to insult Huntsman, beyond saying that he had no chance of winning, even though Huntsman was also choosing not to attend. He called Paul "clown-like," (a childish way of returning the Paul campaign's observation that Trump is a television clown), and he specifically attacked Paul's poll numbers, even though they are top-tier at the moment. Think about that for a minute. Would it really be necessary to viciously attack a candidate that had no chance of winning, just because he refused to attend a debate? If so, then why didn't Trump attack Huntsman? Isn't the act of responding lengthily to a "fringe candidate" an admission that the candidate is truly consequential?
Donald's mention of Paul's poll numbers is the real kicker, however. How Trump, the named "moderator" of a Republican debate, can be unaware of how well Ron Paul is polling right now is absolutely beyond me. Not only that, but if poll numbers are what are important, then why did Trump not ask for the rest of the candidates with pathetic poll numbers, like Bachmann, to be excluded from the debate? If poll numbers do matter, however, (and Trump's completely delusional claim that he has polled better than Ron Paul seems to indicate that he knows they do matter), then how can he claim with a straight face, as he always does, that Paul has no chance of winning?
The answer is that Donald Trump is a moronic television clown, just like the Paul campaign insinuated, who was not sharp enough to sidestep an obvious trap. A more brilliant political maneuver could not be conceived to take down a megalomaniac with a penchant for embarrassing himself. It's truly a shame that Donald Trump is not bright enough to realize what just happened.
Mark R. Crovelli [send him mail] writes from Denver, Colorado.