Alternate answer for our American cousins? The political equivalent of the Hindenburg, due to crash and burn this November and take the GOP with it — unless something Disney-esque happens at the party’s Cleveland convention.
The Conservative Party of Canada should be all ears. After all, if the party is to renew itself, it will first have to exorcise the spirit of the “bad man”, to borrow Rona Ambrose’s ringing phrase.
But if anyone thinks that the way for Conservatives to throw off the two-ton albatross of the Harper years is to come up with their own Trump, they should think again. O’Leary doesn’t open the door to renewal — he seals the tomb on a decade or more of irrelevance. In case the Tory brain-trust hasn’t noticed, greed and bloviating are not quite burning up the track these days.
The evidence? Frothing-at-the-mouth populism is face-planting south of the border. The Donald is not only getting the big “F— you Donald Trump” from rocker Neil Young. He’s not only being told that he’s a fascist democracy-killer by the likes of Johnny Depp — in effect, according to the actor, the “last” president of the United States Americans will ever have if they’re foolish enough to elect him. He isn’t just being called out as a fake and a fraud by the Republican establishment, including the party’s last presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.
The whole country now has Trump’s number — and probably always has. They know that the furthest thing from American values — from a functioning nation that sees itself the leader of the Western world — is a real estate mogul whose favorite part of speech is the first person pronoun. No one wants a Bronx Berlusconi — which may be why seven out of ten Americans told the latest Washington Post/ABC poll they have a negative view of Trump.
And that isn’t the only bad news for the GOP presumptive candidate in the polls: Despite the Rosie O’Donnell treatment Trump has meted out to Hillary Clinton, the first woman running for the White House in American history leads the Donald by 12 points nationwide. Trump owns a 70 per cent disapproval rating with women; with Mexican Americans, the Donald’s disapproval soars to 89 percent — and when it comes to African Americans, the reality TV star is about as popular the Zika virus, with a stunning 94 per cent disapproval rating.
Trump has fully earned these deathbed numbers. Everyone knows the billionaire’s blustering line of bull by now. He proposes banning Muslims from entering the United States. He advocates walling out Mexicans (and the Washington Post). He has racially slandered a fellow American and judge as incompetent by virtue of his ethnic heritage. He has called women pigs.
The media bought a bill of goods on Trump’s electability and seriousness as a presidential candidate. His popularity, such as it is, was entirely premised on the way the 25 per cent of Republicans who vote in primaries supported him — people who view society from the ramshackle villas of the far, far Right.
And then came Orlando — where the Donald hit the bridge abutment head-first. Swollen ego and all, Trump interpreted President Obama’s wise words on this unspeakable tragedy as an anti-Donald hate-fest. (Everything, you see, is about the Donald.)
Remember when Stephen Harper’s minions used to revert to that phoney strategy whenever Canada’s dictator tripped over his own arrogance? If you criticized, you were a Harper-hater. The handy benefit to that approach was that it was wholly irrational — like the neo-con movement itself. The only people who disagreed with Harper were the ones who hated him. If you really believed that, you didn’t need to debate, or even talk. You were either for Steve or against him. The world made simple. That’s why the national political debate on Harper’s watch sank to the level of a reality TV show.
But Orlando was a train-wreck for Trump. Obama, he hinted, had not taken forceful action to stop domestic terrorism because he sides with Muslim extremists. It was an odd moment — a presidential candidate actually suggesting that a sitting U.S. president was in some way complicit with terrorists — was a traitor. As Bloomberg News reported, that “landed with a thud for the majority of Americans, with 61 per cent disagreeing with that suggestion.”
Trump also displayed what a horse’s ass he is when it comes to informed analysis of world events. In referring to the Orlando shooting, the Donald talked about the danger of allowing “thousands and thousands of Syrians into the country.” But the shooter Omar Mateen was an American citizen, born in Queens, New York. And his parents didn’t come from Syria, but Afghanistan.
The Donald also pinballed from one position to another on the gun control debate triggered by the Orlando massacre. At one point he said that if more of the club-goers had been armed, the shooter would have been eliminated before he could slaughter 49 people. Then he appeared to break from the Republican Party and the National Rifle Association when he said that people on the terror watch list should be barred from buying firearms. Then he predicted more Orlandos and even the demise of the United States itself. What did he really think? It depends on which of his tweets you read, and when.
There is no doubt the Conservative Party of Canada has a giant problem in selecting a new leader. Most of the party’s A-list, with very few exceptions, can’t easily explain why they silently did Harper’s bidding when he was busy dismantling Canadian democracy, muzzling Canadian scientists and conflating warmongering with foreign policy. Who will believe them now when they say they believe in transparency, a free press, or the rights of the Opposition?
But before the CPC Stars and Stripes itself with a Donald Trump mini-clone, it ought to give the prospect of a Kevin O’Leary leadership dalliance a long, hard look. This is the guy who said that the only thing he gives a damn about is jobs, jobs, jobs. This is the guy who says he doesn’t need to speak French to govern Canada. This is the guy who boasts that although climate change is real, it is “nowhere near the top” of his myopic and money-grubbing agenda.
Unless the CPC believes in the recuperative magic of trickle-down greed, it should remember something: The only thing you find in shark tanks is sharks.
Author: Michael Harris