Donald Trump is perhaps the most successful Presidential noncandidate our political system has ever produced. You may recall when he illustriously didn’t run for President in 1988 after fanning much media speculation that he would. He followed that up by dramatically not running for President with Ross Perot’s Reform Party in 2000. Now a dozen years have gone by in the political cycle, and here is Donald Trump again, showing up at the conservative CPAC conference and with his former Celebrity Apprentice Piers Morgan and making noises that he is “seriously considering” running for President.
This blog appears in the entertainment section of time.com and thus is probably not the place for prognostication about Presidential contenders. On the other hand, it is the perfect place to talk about Donald Trump, who, let’s just be clear here, is not going to run for President.
Listen: I’d love to be wrong about this, simply for entertainment purposes. (And as far as the world is concerned, Trump is now primarily an entertainer.) But what we know about Donald Trump is: he loves attention and to be treated fawningly. As long as he is an exciting potential candidate, stringing along the press until summer or so, that is what he will get, not just from celebrity journalists whom he picked as the winner of a game show.
But what Trump does not like is losing, humiliation and being made to look bad publicly. And if Trump runs for President (on the GOP ticket, as he has been flirting with, or as an independent), he will lose, be humiliated and be made to look bad. Once Trump were to actually get into the race, he would have to be taken seriously by the political media, his inconsistencies parsed, his business history audited, his personal foibles exhumed.
As it is right now, everybody is willing to give him a pass on this right now, because, let’s repeat, Donald Trump is not going to run for President. But there’s a symbiosis; he gets exposure and gives the political media a handy, attention-getting story during these slack, silly months before actual candidates actually declare. See also: stories on a potential Michael Bloomberg candidacy, potential Democratic challengers to Barack Obama, a Vice Presidential switcheroo, &c. Enjoy the show while it lasts.