In June 2013, I penned a piece titled, “Why it looks like Donald Trump is really running for president in 2016.”
At the end I posed a humorous question I thought was far removed from reality: “Can one even fathom all the blood and guts that would spill from a Clinton vs. Trump 2016 match-up? There is no doubt it would be the political equivalent of a pay-per-view Ultimate Fighting Championship.”
Now that two recent general election match-up polls show wounded, scandal-plagued Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton leading GOP front-runner Donald Trump by only 5 and 6 percentage points, my past attempt at humor is no longer a laughing matter.
Meanwhile, with the 2016 presidential election still 15 months away, and as a loyal Republican who places her country’s future ahead of her party, it is my fervent hope that neither of these extremely flawed candidates will appear at the top of the 2016 ballot.
However, as a certified political junkie, I fantasize about the potential for this electoral “clash of titans.”
There is no doubt that a Clinton vs. Trump race to the White House would provide the greatest political entertainment in the history of the universe.
Just imagine all the hype and stratospheric ratings the first Clinton vs. Trump debate would generate. Forget even calling it a debate. Let’s call it what it would really be, the world’s most ferocious “Celebrity vs. Celebrity Smackdown Super Battle.”
Naturally, it would be live from Vegas and sponsored by E! Entertainment Television. Debate moderators would include the editors of People, Star and Vanity Fair with Beyoncé and Tom Brady as masters of ceremonies. Half-time entertainment would be the long awaited Led Zeppelin reunion providing the background music for a Victoria’s Secret fashion show. In the end the Kardashian clan would determine the winner.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
If we are to understand how our nation evolved to potentially nominating two celebrities as presidential candidates, we need to reflect back to the 2008 election. That was when our first celebrity presidential candidate of modern times emerged on the scene. He was a newly minted black senator from Illinois with a very thin résumé and the unusual name of Barack Hussein Obama.
(For the record, the last celebrity presidential candidate of ancient times, circa 1960, was a young dashing Massachusetts senator named John F. Kennedy.)
In response to Obama’s status as more of a celebrity and less of a seasoned national leader, his 2008 Republican opponent, Arizona Sen. John McCain, aired a television commercial appropriately titled “Celebrity”:
The opening line was, “He is the biggest celebrity in the world, but is he ready to lead?”
The ad created a maelstrom of controversy as the Obama-friendly media zeroed in on millisecond flashes of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. This was widely interpreted as an attempt by the McCain campaign to denigrate Obama’s celebrity status as unworthy of a presidential candidate.
In the end, the ad backfired since the media concluded it was a desperate low-blow attempt to gain some much-needed traction.
But compared with the attack message potential of a Clinton vs. Trump showdown, McCain’s 2008 ad looks mild and tame. Ironically, if nominated, both would easily qualify as the greatest celebrities in the world auditioning for the role of President of the United States of Entertainment. And once again, that question, is he (or she) “ready to lead” needs to be revisited by the media and the voting public.
Another intriguing aspect of a Clinton vs. Trump race is that there would be no rules. This is because conventional, traditional, unwritten campaign rules dictate that opponents accord each other some respect (at least on the surface). But the usual rules would not apply since these two don’t play by the rules! After all, rules are for “the little people.”
In fact, there are never been two celebrity rule breakers more equal, more similar, more opposite and perfectly matched.
Trump speaks truth while Clinton twists the truth.
Trump says we can trust him to solve our national problems. Clinton has a national problem with trust.
Trump represents wealth and success. Clinton generates wealth from past and future access to power.
Trump wants to be president to “Make America Great Again.” Clinton wants to make history as the first female president.
Trump verbally fights with women. Clinton tells us she fights for women.
Trump inherited millions from his father but built his own empire. Hillary won the title of first lady from her husband and built a dubious legacy.
Trump is worth billions from real estate. Clinton is worth millions from donations.
Trump and Clinton are both “one percenters” who have spent the last decades traveling on private jets breathing rarefied air.
Thus far, and a signal of future fireworks, Trump and Clinton do not fear each other.
Since Trump went to war with Megyn Kelly over a debate question, imagine what he would say about Hillary before, during and after a debate (and what she would say in response).
Trump is the candidate for those fed-up with government. Clinton, during the day, is a pro-government candidate who “fights for the middle class” – then limos off for an evening of crony capitalism to a $30,000 per couple fundraiser at a fancy mansion.
Both Trump and Clinton have been in the public eye for decades and have experienced embarrassing ups and down. As a result, they are equally battle-tested, and failure is not an option.
Trump and Clinton are media magnets and have a love/hate relationship with the press.
Candidate Trump is a television news ratings king while Clinton fears the media.
Trump is out of control. Clinton is too controlled.
And if Trump does manage to capture the GOP nomination, who knows how the election would end. Considering Trump’s past litigious history, it is highly likely that he would find some reason to sue. (Voter fraud, perhaps?) Given his oversized ego, Trump would not accept the American people’s verdict at the ballot box that equated to “You’re fired!” before he was even hired.
On May 22, three weeks before Trump made his now infamous June 16 presidential announcement speech, I wrote another piece titled, “Age, race and gender trump experience for 2016.”
Once again, it ended on a humorous note:
One can only imagine that to perfectly balance his old, white, male and ‘proud to be a billionaire’ identity with the proper amount of female youth and power, Trump will ask Taylor Swift to be his running mate.
Which now prompts me to ask, “She is the biggest celebrity in the world, but is she ready to lead?”
Cross-posted at RedState