The biggest political lesson of the Trump "campaign"

The NBC star's withdrawal from the 2012 race provides a blueprint for beating every single other Republican

Published May 17, 2011 12:01PM (EDT)

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

The brief, wondrous presidential campaign of Donald Trump taught us that the more extreme and ridiculous your statements about Barack Obama become, the more Fox News will embrace you, even if you draw a salary from a competing media conglomerate. It taught us that most of the television news industry will treat any clown seriously until that clown's "negatives" begin rising in polls, at which point everyone will gleefully pile on. It taught us that repugnant sexist creeps are routinely treated in the press and the entertainment industry as lovable rogues.

But none of those things are particularly surprising to the reasonably well-informed American. For those not currently enrolled in "Trump University," the Trump campaign was an easily spotted con from day one, a farce we've all seen before.

There were some small surprises. Who would've predicted he'd go Full Birther? Who knew he'd end it before delivering a hilarious debate performance? Why did the Washington Post invite him to the Correspondents' Dinner again?

And does the Democratic Party realize that it's been handed a wonderful gift? This is the sole momentous achievement of the Trump campaign. Donald Trump has inadvertently provided a blueprint for getting rid of an inconvenient candidate before a campaign even starts: Give him a TV show.

I don't think it's at all coincidental that Trump announced the end of his joke campaign the day after NBC announced the renewal of his reality show. NBC said "The Apprentice" would be back. It also said that if its host insisted on running for president, it would find a new host. Trump quickly announced the end of his bid.

As I imagine some WorldNetDaily contributor is writing at this very moment: That is how liberal NBC, controlled by Democrat cronies of the thuggish Obama administration, ended the political career of a great American. (This is either bribery or extortion, but either way, Nobama must be impeached, Eric Holder jailed, Steve Capus flogged, etc.)

Trump realized that even though his ego was pushing him further and further into politics, he is much better at cashing checks from NBC for playing a billionaire than actually being a billionaire real estate mogul. (Just as he's better at licensing his name to failed projects than he is at developing his own failed projects.)

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee dropped out of the race this weekend. Huckabee is a man who could win the nomination, if he actually wanted to do the hard work of seriously running for president. But maybe he'd rather do the hard work of pushing for Glenn Beck's old weekday Fox News time slot?

I swear, this is the key to the race: Sarah Palin already got a TV show, and as weird and bad as it was, her choosing to do that show may well have been the moment her 2012 campaign ended. If someone gives Newt Gingrich an hour on the History Channel ("POPE STARS"?), he will never run for anything again. Michele Bachmann's entire political life is practically a prologue to a Fox career.

The only people this doesn't work with are Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney, because unless they have to share an apartment and Pawlenty is a total slob, they are not entertaining enough to watch regularly. (Though a show about Romney's sons would probably be a big success.)

By Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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