After a months-long process that left his reputation in tatters and his brand damaged, Donald Trump officially announced today he is not running for president, declaring that "business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector."
Writes Trump in his statement:
"My gratitude for your faith and trust in me could never be expressed properly in words. So, I make you this promise: that I will continue to voice my opinions loudly and help to shape our politician's [sic] thoughts."
So why get out now? Why not follow Roger Stone's advice and declare he's still mulling an independent candidacy, thereby bypassing the GOP primary process and allowing the charade to continue well into 2012?
Well, for one thing, Trump stayed in the fake candidate game long enough that his prized personal brand seemed to finally be taking some damage. Some media outlets finally began to do real digging into his business dealings and the results were deeply unflattering. (Here are two recent examples. My dossier on what to know about Trump for next time he tries to scam us is here.)
There were beginning to be real-world consequences. Trump's constant race-baiting prompted popular protests that led to the cancellation of his annual appearance at the Indy 500. A black group canceled its golf classic at one of Trump's clubs in protest. Meanwhile, ratings for "Celebrity Apprentice" (just signed for another season) are actually down.
One hopes that this is a teachable moment for the media -- the lesson being to never, ever trust Trump, and to never report his claims uncritically. There was, for example, Trump's widely-reported-as-fact claim that he sent "investigators" to Hawaii to look into President Obama's birth. Trump promised he would release the results of that investigation in due time, but that never happened.
Alex Pareene's obituary for the Trump campaign, written a few days ago but very much worth a read, is here.