“I do give Donald a lot of credit for changing the game,” Cuban, the entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks told CNBC in September, speaking on the suddenly lowered standards for what we look for in a presidential candidate. “Up until now, you had to be a perfect candidate. It’s like you couldn’t have a drink when you were growing up. And I think Donald changed that. He made it OK to be an imperfect candidate, and I think that’s a good thing.”
It’s certainly a good thing for Cuban. The billionaire, who also said he gets asked every day if he’d run for president, and that he would crush either Trump or Hillary Clinton were he to run, is probably the closest analogue to Trump among our potential contenders. He’s got the business acumen, the broad range of branding experience, from sports, to software, to entertainment —and a big fat mouth. His ongoing disputes with the NBA over issues both minor and significant, have garnered him well more than a million dollars in fines over the years. Like Trump, he’s also the star of a reality TV show in the form of “Shark Tank,” and he’s even played the role of the president before, albeit in Sharknado 3, but it’s a start.
He’s also exhibited an ability to waver politically back and forth between either pole depending on the situation, having given money to Democrats and Republicans, and has expressed a broad spectrum of political opinions, leaning socially liberal, but financially conservative. It used to be that this kind of political slipperiness was a disadvantage. But the way things work now, you can pretty much say anything you want, as long as you say it with the bold conviction that only a billionaire celebrity can muster. As Trump has illustrated, apparently that’s no longer a bug in the system, it’s a feature.