It’s hard to think of a positive contribution that Donald Trump has made to politics. As Jonathan Capehart observed, Trump, after he “clawed his way to the top of the GOP presidential polls based on a lie,” now goes to New Hampshire where the circus continues: “[E]verything else Trump did during his presser in New Hampshire — questioning the veracity of the long-form birth certificate; questioning Obama’s qualifications to go to Columbia and Harvard; his mindless solutions to the nation’s problems — made a mockery of American politics.”
But I don’t agree that this is all bad news for the Republican field of candidates and for the party as a whole. For one thing, those potential candidates not yet in the race can take their time, secure in the knowledge that nothing aside from the Trump travesty is going on for now. And the other candidates and potential candidates, some of whom I would argue have been too hastily dismissed by the punditocracy — e.g. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and those who seem to lack gravitas now seem more grounded and serious in comparison to the egomaniacal buffoon who has punchlines, not positions, on the issues. So Tim Pawlenty isn’t that exciting, but see how “exciting” has its limits? Maybe Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) has been too focused on one issue (the debt) to the exclusion of all others, but at least he’s obsessed with something important. (Certainly, any political coverage of the 2012 race that doesn’t concern RomneyCare is good news for the former Massachusetts governor.)
And we shouldn’t get carried away here. It is far from clear Trump will actually run for office, and unimaginable that a majority or even plurality of Republican primary voters will throw their votes and their chance to retake the White House down the drain by backing Trump. Eventually, a serious candidate or two will rise to the top of the heap and Trump will be a regrettable but ultimately irrelevant footnote in our political history.