Matt Bai (hat tip to Steve M.) notes
Trump isn’t a front-runner for anything. That’s like saying the utility infielder who hits .460 in the first two weeks of April is a likely MVP candidate. It’s like saying Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain were front-runners in 2011. (Oh wait: We did that, too.)
It’s July. Trump’s plurality in these polls basically comes down to a tiny subset of professed Republicans who will actually talk to a telemarketer, who can’t keep any of these other droning candidates straight, and who find politics in general to be a soul-sucking enterprise.
The GOP field of plausible nominees is three, two of them from Florida. The actual front-runner, disturbingly, at this time is Scott Walker because he is the leader (by a substantial margin) in Iowa. Once Iowa's caucus is held, the odds get shuffled heading into New Hampshire. The current preference of Repub voters nationwide, now for Donald Trump, is close to irrelevant.
Although the enthusiasm for the real estate mogul is, as Bai and almost every observer understands, as much cultural/psychological as it is ideological, the ideological should not get short shrift. Whatever Repub voters believe about legalization, deportation, or a wall, plenty of them long for a candidate who says he'll "get tough" with illegal immigrants. That Trump clearly does, though he obviously never would convince the Mexican government to pay for a wall to stop the illegal immigrants he says "they" are sending here. Details, details. Facts are for liberals and other snobs.
Bai, however, asks an intriguing question when he writes
Somewhere out there right now is some business magnate or TV celebrity, someone whose resources and audacity may vastly exceed his intellect or compassion, whose ambition may be more of the Napoleonic variety than the P.T. Barnum kind, who’s better skilled than Trump at making demagoguery look like a half-palatable governing vision.
And that person is probably sitting by a pool ringed with limestone goddesses, watching all this unfold and asking the question any of us might reasonably ask in that situation.
“Hey, why not me?”
Although not a business magnate or TV celebrity, somebody already has asked "hey, why not me?" He's not a business magnate, but has strong ties to Wall Street. He's not a TV celebrity but in the age of social media, has been somewhat of a YouTube sensation and is quite a narcissist, additionally. He has resources and is probably the most audacious politician of them all, running a uniquely corrupt Administration skilled at pay-to-play. He has no more compassion than Trump but is far more skilled at making demagoguery look like a half-palatable governing vision.
His name is Chris Christie (video below, obviously) and though he won't be nominated, he has a better chance than, oh, fourteen other aspirants. He is, further, a reminder that Donald Trump does not stand alone in the Repub presidential field as a dangerous megalomaniac.