As I get older and alarmingly lose my inhibitions about what I should say and my capacity for embarrassment diminishes (as my children would attest), I will admit to being a closet Stern listener during his prime, from the mid-’80s to the early ’90s. I don’t think I ever acknowledged it at the time, but Stern was part of my morning commute to the White House in the late ’80s.
There have been reports that Stern has become somewhat tame since moving to SiriusXM Radio. I’ve read those accounts with some regret and nostalgia for the old Stern — especially as I see reflections of the old Stern in our politics today.
When Stern was at his peak, he didn’t have political influence in the traditional sense. He probably couldn’t deliver any votes, but what he could do was be disruptive to a campaign, so even thoughtful politicians like Christine Todd Whitman, who served as governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001, had to approach him with a certain amount of respect.
I suspect Stern listeners and Trump supporters are similar in a lot of ways. And entertainers and some politicians poking the establishment and stirring up some disgruntled portion of the population is not new. So you could say Trump is like Stern in some ways, but Trump is not even close to be being as clever or funny. Trump is a clunky, sour version of Stern.
While Trump is often credited with saying what he really thinks, or saying what the people really think and not backing down in the face of criticism, I don’t think of him as honest — certainly not in the way Stern was. Stern would call a schlong a schlong and never lie about what he meant. If you think about it, Donald Trump is sort of a poor man’s Howard Stern.
Anyway, the question is, are Trump and Stern cut from the same cloth? I think saying so does a disservice to Stern. At the end of the day, Stern was about being funny and entertaining. Trump is neither. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think Trump’s shtick is achieving some helpful breakthrough in the political realm.