One of William Shakespeare's greatest contributions to literature and performance art was the idea of "Comic Relief"--a character who is sort of clownish or not so serious to help cut the tension of dramatic moments in his plays. William Shakespeare, meet Donald Trump.
After decades of threatening to do it, "The Donald" launched an official campaign for President on Tuesday--and it was everything you would expect it to be from America's Celebrity Billionaire. Rather than roll out a carefully crafted and well-practiced campaign message, Trump appeared to be talking off the cuff--with a rambling list of "goals" for his administration including the construction of a giant wall along the southern US border and then sending Mexico the bill for it. He called everyone else in the race "idiots" and raised the possibility of making Oprah Winfrey his running mate for Vice President. In short, it was like every other public appearance Trump has ever made with TV cameras present.
And TV is going to eat this up. They know that Trump is a quote machine--usually praising his own "greatness". There will be video of the insular billionaire pretending to care what a farm wife in Iowa has to say while actually looking right over the top of her at the attractive, blonde reporter from some TV station. And the continuous stream of "gaffes" will make Joe Biden look like Abraham Lincoln--and fill up the late night talk show monologues for months.
But we actually NEED Donald Trump in this race at this time. We are still SEVEN AND A HALF MONTHS away from anyone actually casting a ballot (or standing in a certain corner at the caucus) in this race. It is way too early to actually be serious about "Decision 2016"--so why not let the clowns entertain us and we'll get to the important part of this process much farther down the road.
Now, we shouldn't dismiss the Trump candidacy out of hand. We are after all a celebrity-obsessed culture (see our current President for proof) and The Donald has done very well in getting his name in front of nearly everybody in America as some point in the past few years. And he will likely run as a "non-politician"--which could be an advantage in a race where about 90% of voters hate everyone currently involved in government.
Clowns have won big races before. I was living in the Twin Cities when Jesse "The Body" Ventura won the race for Governor of Minnesota as a member of the Reform Party. He didn't run as "Mr Serious Politician"--he ran as Jesse "The Body" with big, bold "wrassler talk" and cheap ads featuring his old action figure beating up stuff-shirt politician dolls that were immensely popular with young voters. A few catchy ads, some politically incorrect stump speeches and Donald may be able to tap into that same sort of populist backlash and make it Trump White House.
In the meantime, grab your popcorn and let the clown take over this circus for awhile.