Yesterday I referenced a piece that was appearing in The Huffington Post which suggested that Donald Trump was not seriously seeking the presidency, but that he was just trying to hype his name and sell some product: steaks, taco bowls, hotel rooms, etc. The article was written by Paul Vale, the front page editor at The Huffington Post. It was titled "Relax, world. Trump isn't going to be President. But he'll rinse some cash from his run."
The writer argued that the act of running for President has become, for many candidates, more about making money than it is about actually pursuing the position. He used Sarah Palin as an example. Palin was officially in the public eye just a couple of months, but she used that national notoriety as a launch pad to sell books, land work on television, and become a highly paid speaker. That bothersome campaign made Sarah a highly marketable commodity.
What Vale didn't explicitly say was that Sarah Palin actually showed no interest in getting elected and holding down a job. In fact, she went on to quit her job as governor of Alaska after serving only half of her four-year term. Running for office wasn't about going to work every day and actually holding down a job with a defined set of responsibilities. Running for office was about increasing the fame quotient, the marketability, and then cashing in.
The author of the article, Mr. Vale, painted Trump as a candidate with little or no desire to win the presidency or serve in that difficult position. Trump will lose - and make some money in the process. Vale noted that Trump is spending almost nothing so far on the campaign, and that his entire national staff could come close to fitting in an elevator.
But for this marketability scam to work, Vale noted that Trump must at least run a respectable race. He can't front such a disaster that the Republicans get washed out of Congress in the process. Yes, the candidate knows he will lose, but he can't lead the party off of a cliff - such a disastrous outcome would be bad for the Trump brand and the marketability of his products. It's one thing to lose an election, but quite another to lose market share.
Donald Trump is running to lose the presidency, but to do so in a respectable manner. Every day that his name and face get flashed around in the press is a good day for Trump business, but if he ever slips across the line from "serious" candidate to sad joke or national embarrassment, taco bowl sales will plummet. For the time being, at least, he has to appear to want to get elected. It is a con job by the consummate con man.
Of course, cons have been known to backfire, and in that case America would be the loser.