As we wait for the conventions and the official coronation of the two major party nominees, much of the political news coverage is increasingly resembling an issue of Mad Magazine rather than any serious discussion of the issues. (The latest issue of Mad is entirely about Trump, by the way.) In particular, there seems to be more than the usual dose of silliness inherent in much of the coverage of Donald Trump. Sure, he brings a lot of that one himself with some of his more flamboyant comments, but some days it seems as if the reporters following him around have simply given up trying.
Take for example the Q&A picked up over at AT&T Live news. Rather than any worries about foreign policy or unemployment, we get to find out whether or not The Donald plans on redoing the White House in fabulous fashion.
The five letters of his last name boldly adorn buildings around the United States. But if he makes it to the White House, Donald Trump says he won’t be doing much redecorating.
“No, I wouldn’t… it’s a special place and building,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee told CNN in remarks aired Sunday.
So no big Trump sign atop the storied house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that has been home to all American presidents since John Adams in 1800?
“It will be beautiful, well maintained,” the real estate mogul said. “I’m going to be working. I’m not going to be decorating.”
But what about the West Wing? Surely Trump and his family are used to far more posh accommodations than that. Will he really live there or might he choose to reside in a plush hotel he’s currently building nearby?
The billionaire also said that, if he wins the November 8 election, he has no plans to move into a hotel he is building just blocks away.
“No, the White House represents something so important,” he said.
This is apparently the point we’ve reached in the proceedings. Even with all of the serious issues up for debate, there are plenty of oddball questions regarding the campaigns themselves which the gaggle could be putting to the candidates. What I’d like to know is, how did a series of questions like this even make it in front of a presidential candidate? Sure, I’ve seen the jokes before. I’m pretty sure Jimmy Kimmel has already run a graphic of the White House with thirty foot tall letters spelling out “TRUMP” in front of the dome, but this is the stuff of late night comics and bored bloggers.
Are there any plans for a golden escalator to replace the stairs outside the Oval Office?
To be fair, Trump sort of invites this type of behavior with his own stream of consciousness appearances on the campaign trail and in Sunday morning interviews. His remarks about the judge in the Trump University case have had me scratching my head and that’s only the most recent entry on the list. And all the news outlets operate on clicks and viewership, knowing the most outrageous answers will draw eyeballs, so I suppose the selection of questions was inevitable to a certain extent. But even more to the point, I have to wonder if Trump is reaching a breaking point in his “Teflon Don” status.
For most of this campaign it seemed to be a given in this brave new world of American politics that Trump was not subject to the same rules of campaigning which apply to everyone else seeking the office. The Donald has been immune to gravity, able to say whatever was on his mind at the moment and not pay any price for it in the polls. I’ve assumed up until now that this was the result of the fact that he just says so many things. Who can keep up? When a “normal” politician plays by the rules 24×7 for months on end and then makes one off color remark, the media world explodes upon them and they wind up retracting, apologizing or withdrawing. With Trump, it’s just another day ending in a “Y.”
Could we be reaching the end of that period of seeming immunity? When Trump first made his comments about the judge being of Mexican lineage I’ll confess I didn’t think much of it. It’s just Trump being Trump. But for some reason this particular story has grown serious legs and it has even some of his most ardent supporters edging away from him. We won’t know for a couple of weeks when we get some addition polling with these stories baked into the results, but there are clearly alarm bells going off inside the GOP right now. Trump isn’t “calming down” and acting like he’s serious about beating Clinton to win the White House. If anything, he’s ramping up the volume. If that energy was directed entirely at defeating Hillary it wouldn’t be a problem, but the loose cannon seems to still be firing in all directions.
Add to this story the penchant for odd questions about redecorating the White House and we’ve got a recipe for disaster. Since all questions are fair game and the answers are unpredictable, Trump may be turning the press train into a shooting gallery. Sooner or later somebody is going to score a bullseye.