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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Donald Trump: nutty genius

Donald Trump is a brilliant man. Anybody who doubts that only needs to watch one of the several interviews he has given over the past week. However, he is only brilliant at maneuvering public opinion and communicating an effective message, not at putting forth the policies this country needs.

For the past few weeks, Trump has become obsessed with one issue: the birther issue. Yes, one of the nation’s foremost business executives has not been talking about the economic crisis or the recent budget fiasco, but has instead stuck to focusing on whether or not President Barack Obama was born in Kenya or not. In every interview, he brings this meaningless issue back to the forefront, demanding to see the president’s birth certificate. While to you and me, this seems like a terrible waste of time (the president has a certificate of live birth and the hospital published news of his birth in a Hawaii newspaper), it seems to resonate with a certain noisy fringe element of the Republican Party.  

In fact, according to a recent poll, he is now in second place among possible Republican candidates and there’s no question that playing to the birther conspiracy theorists had something to do with it. To independent voters (the voters that the Republican nominee will ultimately have to pander to), this issue is just a distraction, but according to a poll released by Public Policy Polling in February, 51 percent of Republicans believe Obama wasn’t born in this country. While the birther debate is annoying to most Americans, Trump will need the support of the Republican base if he wants to win the nomination, and this seems like the perfect issue to push their buttons.  

Thankfully, Trump has chosen to speak about other issues, aside from the president’s birthplace, but has continued with the same pandering to the far right. One of his favorite talking points is how the United States is being screwed by China. With a massive trade deficit and artificially deflated Chinese currency allowing for cheap exports, he has a point. But Trump’s solution is to vilify China.  

On more than one occasion he has referred to the Chinese as our enemies. While this might sit well with people who know nothing about foreign policy, taking such a hardline approach can only be counterproductive. Does he honestly think he can convince the Chinese to relax their strict restrictions on business or inflate their currency just by sitting down and talking tough? Does he want to start a trade war?

There is a lot of work that needs to be done between the United States and China, but such rhetoric will only make things worse. He should keep in mind that international relations is not exactly the same as fighting over zoning laws for a new high-rise hotel or casino.

Of course, it’s still unclear as to whether or not Trump will actually run for president. We won’t know until June and there’s still a very good chance this is nothing more than a publicity stunt. Nonetheless, he has been playing his cards beautifully and his message seems to be resonating with a significant portion of the Republican base.

Personally, I still think he has little chance of winning the nomination (my money’s on Mitt Romney), but who knows what’s up his sleeve. He’s clearly gifted at garnering much-needed media attention, so it’s impossible to say what the future holds.

 

— Andrew Shepherd is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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