“A decision by Mr. Trump to formally declare his intention to seek the Republican nomination could disrupt the network’s plans to broadcast future seasons of his show, ‘The Apprentice,’ because of concerns that other candidates could request equal airtime.
“But no one at NBC has done much serious planning about what to do with ‘The Apprentice,’ because of what two executives cited as pervasive doubts that Mr. Trump would actually enter the race.
“‘This is Donald being Donald,’ said one senior executive who would be involved in any decision about how NBC handles the show.”
“Media coverage has focused on Trump’s belief in the birther conspiracy. But I doubt that’s the reason many in the Republican grass-roots are intrigued. Name-recognition surely plays a part in Trump’s poll numbers. What’s really behind the Trump bubble, though, is unchecked populism: the belief that America’s ‘ruling class’ isn’t being honest with the American people and is driving the country off a cliff. The deeper you get into the populist weeds, the more frequently you come across people who think that Obama’s entire presidency is based on a lie, who are so disgusted with politicians that they are willing to turn over the country to a thrice-married egomaniac.
“The populist tradition is as old as the country itself. And I’m sympathetic to the sentiment that everyday people have a better idea of how to run their lives than political, intellectual, cultural or business elites. But there comes a point at which populism ventures into conspiracism and the ‘country class’ refuses to acknowledge political realities. Atop this unstable political real estate sits a Trump Tower.”
“Other analysts have tried to compare his potential to Ross Perot in 1992, perhaps if he ends up running as an independent. Yet there are key differences between the two men. Whereas Perot was a self-made billionaire, Trump inherited a fortune from his father and declared bankruptcy several times. While Perot was a folksy Texan who could pull off a certain everyman appeal despite his enormous wealth, Trump is an arrogrant, in your face, born and bred New Yorker. Being from New York myself, that sort of think doesn’t startle me. But having covered the Rudy Giuliani campaign (who, incidently lead polls for much of 2007), I can say that it’s hard to overestimate what a handicap being a New Yorker can be for a presidential candidate in other parts of the country. I can’t tell you how many voters I spoke to in Iowa who were reflexively distrustful of Giuliani because of his New York background.
“I can’t predict precisely how long this Trump for president fad will last, but it’s destined to fizzle.”
“He is riding something else: the strongest and most subversive ideology in America today. Donald Trump is the living, walking personification of the Gospel of Success…
“When it comes to success, as in so many other things, he is the perpetual boy. He is the enthusiastic adventurer thrilled to have acquired a gleaming new bike, and doubly thrilled to be showing it off.
“Moreover, he shares this unambivalent attitude toward success with millions around the country. Though he cannot possibly need the money, he spends his days proselytizing the Gospel of Success through Trump University, his motivational speeches, his TV shows and relentlessly flowing books…
“He emerges from deep currents in our culture, and he is tapping into powerful sections of the national fantasy life. I would never vote for him, but I would never want to live in a country without people like him.”
“[E]ven those opposed to Trump privately fret that he might have some unconventional appeal as a wild card in a slow-to-start race.
“‘I don’t see Donald Trump trudging around in the snows of Iowa wearing ear flaps and trudging around the country fair,’ said a top official at the Southern Baptist Convention, Richard Land. ‘But look, we live in the celebrity age. He is a celebrity. He’s got the name recognition. He’s got the money. He certainly appears to have the moxie. So maybe Americans are ready for a brash New Yorker.'”