Sunday, June 5, 2011


  2 weeks ago, Donald Trump decided not to seek the Republican nomination for president. The speculation was that he didn’t want to have to give up his Apprentice TV shows in order to run for president. I think Trump decided not to run after getting a taste of the kind of negative media attention he would have to put up with, and Saturday Night Live hadn’t even started on him.

  I don’t know if Trump would have been able to get the nomination as a Republican, but I think he would have been as good a candidate as any of the others in the field. He had a huge advantage in name recognition. Except for Mitt Romney, can you name another Republican candidate? I know Pawlenty because he is the governor of nearby Minnesota, and I know Palin who isn’t a candidate yet, and I know Gingrich. Normally the Republican nominee must be strictly anti-abortion and anti-gay, but this election is different. The family values crowd is so desperate to unseat Obama that they will make an exception for this election for anyone they think could win.

  I don’t think anyone can beat Obama, but 20 years ago no one thought George Bush could be defeated and it led to a flawed group of candidates running for the Democratic nomination because many of the more serious candidates had decided to wait until 1996 to run after a second Bush term. But when Bush broke his famous “Read my lips. No new taxes” pledge and the economy went into a recession, no one cared about his leadership in Operation Desert Storm and suddenly the presidency was there for Bill Clinton's taking and the catch phrase “It’s the economy, stupid!” was born.

What odds could you have gotten on the
guy with the chimp being President?
  Trump’s celebrity doesn’t exclude him from being president. No one thought Ronald Reagan could ever be president, but when the economy tanked in 1979, people had to wait 2 hours in line for gasoline, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and the hostages were taken in Iran, Reagan got taken more seriously as some one who wasn’t Jimmy Carter and the media stopped playing clips from Reagan’s starring role in the movie “Bedtime for Bonzo”. Arnold Schwarzenegger managed to get elected and re-elected governor of California with nothing but his celebrity going for him. Even if the economy tanks and people start looking for anyone but Obama to be president, Obama has an ace in the hole that previous presidents in that position didn’t. I could see some pictures of a dead Osama Bin Laden being leaked out as a sort of October surprise in reverse.

  In my opinion, the biggest indictment against Trump’s ability to be president is not his bankruptcies or his cartoon character persona, but his stint running the New Jersey Generals of the USFL (United States Football League) in the mid 80’s. The USFL started as a summer football league and had a small but loyal following with a modest ABC TV contract. There were some owners with deep pockets, but they did not start bidding wars against the NFL for players until the Generals signed Heisman Trophy winning Hershel Walker for more than twice the teams salary cap and also breaking the USFL rule against signing underclassmen. Then Trump signed NFL all-pro players like Brian Sipe and Gary Barbaro to big money contracts. In order to compete the other USFL teams had to follow suit and bid for NFL players with money many of the teams didn’t have. Despite his big-name talent, the Generals didn’t make it past the first round of the playoffs. Undeterred, Trump signed Heisman winning quarterback Doug Flutie to a big money contract. In order to ensure his new toy would be the starter, Trump dumped Sipe, last year’s big money quarterback, to another team. The Generals again didn’t make it past the first round of the playoffs. Trump led a charge to change the USFL schedule to go head to head in the fall against the NFL. Since both leagues shared many stadiums, this led to an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL. The USFL won the lawsuit, but the jury ruled that while the USFL was damaged by the NFL’s monopoly on playing sites and TV contracts, most of the damage to the USFL was self-inflicted and the USFL was awarded damages of $1. It wasn’t all that bad since the USFL’s legal fees were covered, but Trump’s poor Steinbrenner impersonation not only managed to not win a championship, he put an entire football league out of business.

  Trump made the news again last week when he was ridiculed for by John Stewart for eating pizza with a knife and fork with Sarah Palin. This was a funny bit and I agree with the poor taste in stacking pizza slices, but I thought this knife and fork criticism was unfounded. When I worked at a coat manufacturer called Amerex in the late 80’s, the finance V.P. was named Frank Brandi, who was a mentor of mine. Frank was 20 years older then me, but convinced me to wear a suit to work once a week so I would be comfortable being well-dressed. I took that advice and it became invaluable when I got a job that required suits and ties. Frank and I were both big Yankee fans and would go out at lunch time once in a while and get baseball cards. Next door to the baseball card shop was a pizza place and we would grab a slice. Frank also ate his pizza using a knife and fork. At first I thought it was weird, but since Frank dressed like a million bucks and didn’t want to be walking around with pizza stains on his shirt, it made a lot of sense.

  I hope Trump changes his mind and decides to run for President. It would make great theatre and at 65, Trump is too old to wait until 2016. He would also be the type of illogical candidate that would give the ultra-cerebral Obama the most trouble campaigning against. It is a long shot, but stranger things have happened.