Brash, boastful, boorish, successful, not much of a gentleman, riding for a fall, hated – all words and phrases that might be applied to Donald Trump at a time when many British people have petitioned Parliament to ban from entry to the UK, the man who could become the next President of the United States of America.
Was it not only a few weeks ago that we entertained the Chinese Premier without any such foolishness, notwithstanding that the Chinese Government is infinitely less congenial to British values than ” The Donald ” will ever be?
What his detractors appear to miss is that Mr Trump thrives on the disapproval of those who dislike him. Both in this, and the full set of unflattering epithets listed above, Mr Trump resembles none other than another upstart braggart hated on these shores – one Cassius Marcellus Clay, the ” Louisville Lip” whose outrageous pronouncements propelled him to become both the heavyweight boxing champion of the world – and in later life, to the status of “National Treasure”, under his new name, Mohammed Ali.
In public perception as in theology, one can be “born again”.
Along the way, Ali flirted with some borderline racism in his association with the Black Power movement. He upset the Establishment, sporting and political, and eventually won his detractors round by doing exactly what he said he was going to do.
America loves success and forgives winners.
Could this be the fate of Donald Trump? He is certainly talking a similarly good game. He also has the media dancing to his tune.
His promise to ” Make America Great Again” resonates with many of those who once threw reason and caution to the winds to deliver with acclamation a landslide victory to Barrack Obama, who had similarly stepped onto the National political stage with no record of political achievement but a lot of populist rhetoric.
The public is fickle and may be again. Nevertheless, from time to time they take to an outsider. That certainly applies to the Republican Party field which is dominated by successes from outsider cañdidates. Trump, Cruz, Carson and Fiorina have all performed better than expected. Even Hillary Clinton now tries to step aside from her First Lady and Secretary of State status, and attempts portray herself as outsider champion whilst being challenged by another genuine candidate from ” Left field” in Bernie Sanders.
A dissection of the proletarians claims of Ms Clinton is best left to another time.
Like Ali, Trump is the master of the counter punch. Opponents who attack him see their subsequent poll ratings fall. You can’t best him on one liners and if you try to fight ugly, he can roll in the gutter with the best ( ie the worst) of them.
When Hillary Clinton accused him of sexism, he showed no squeamishness, and put into play her own complicity and lack of feminist outrage over the multiple women abused by her husband, and silenced by the Clinton “War Room”. Asked if his own less than pristine marital history was also in play Trump disarmingly answered ” Of course”.
Like Ali, he dominates both the centre of the ring, and the pre and post match interviews. He intimidates many, so that they are emotionally beaten before they begin. What is especially alarming to the political Establishment of both parties is his extraordinary personal resources- which he has not even begun to spend yet. Ms Clinton is very rich woman – her net worth is about $38m : her husband is worth around $80m. Mr Trump’s income last year was approximately $400k
Getting into a financial battle with a Donald Trump is like entering a bleeding competition with a blood bank. This even intimidates National Parties, especially the GOP that is terrified of him running as a third party candidate.
Unlike the British, Americans love this.
For the first time, the inner beltway Washington political machine and the lobbyists who work within it are bemused; they have an opponent they don’t like, who they can’t outspend, can’t crush, can’t shame, doesn’t need their money and can dictate the terms of fight as a complete loose cannon. Joe Public USA loves the sport.
So does this make him the next GOP President?
Possibly, but far from certainly.
Those who think Ms Clinton invincible are drawn largely from those who thought the same when she fought Barrack Obama. Her husband’s legendary campaigning skills nor their formidable campaigning machine did not save her then, and not only does she have her own vulnerabilities today, but her husband’s charm may not cut it with the new generation of PC voters they helped to create: they may be less charitable towards his predatory behaviour than the electorate of 16 years ago.
If you talk to Boxing fans about which fighters from another era could live with the supreme Mohammed Ali only two names are offered.
Rocky Marciano’s record is better, but those he fought were inferior to those with whom Ali contended.
In more recent times only one name recurs, that of the Canadian born Lennox Lewis. He was never so popular, but had a formidable physique, great technical ability, was equally resilient and of greater stature. He might have had what it takes to defeat the self proclaimed “Greatest”.
Of Donald Trump’s opponents there is also one whose raw intellect outguns even “The Donald’s” intimidating 154 IQ. He too is a Washington outsider, one who can draw and hold not only those who dislike Donald Trump, but those who adore him : that should not be underestimated.
He is younger, even more hungry, forensically equipped to dissect the Clinton record and has a cleaner record than either of his possible opponents. His name is Ted Cruz: he too was born in Canada.