Donald Trump definitely is not introspective. If he thought about it, he’d probably decide that such self-reflection is navel-gazing and a total waste of time. But, of course, since he’s not introspective, he’s never thought about it. Whatever bubbles up from the Trump sump of his mind dumps out of his mouth, with no regard for what it fouls in the process. His millions of minions love it.
They roared in gusty approval at the Conservative Political Action Conference as the Trumpster let fly with a two-hour toxic stream of consciousness. It seems that no matter how many times his bigotry or ignorance is identified, he doesn’t ever deflate. In fact, his gas only inflates him. To his base, his ugliness is beautiful.
Not so with many of those Democrats who aspire to replace him. Now that so many have announced their candidacies, the question for some of them is “Now what?” For a few, the answer is a makeover.
Take Elizabeth Warren, for instance: Her biggest problem is that she comes across as a humorless schoolmarm type, definitely not affable. Correction: Her even bigger problem is the tone-deaf way she’s trying to correct that impression. There she was on New Year’s Eve, shortly after she announced she was running, livestreaming from her kitchen and asking those watching to “Hold on a sec, I’m gonna get me a beer.” She was transparently phony, trying to come across as “common folk.”
That’s not her only rabble dabble. Her campaign is going to the dogs. Actually, it’s just one dog. His name is Bailey, a golden retriever puppy. You can look him up on her webpage: Bailey is all over it. Warren’s husband gave Bailey to her last July, just when she had pretty much decided on a presidential run. She and her political consultants had presumably discussed ways to address perceptions of her frosty personality. Golden retrievers are the gold standard of warmth and fuzziness. So now we have Bailey, conveniently recruited as a way to give Elizabeth Warren a leg up.
Note that President Trump doesn’t even bother. He used to have Michael Cohen as his pit bull, but Cohen now has turned on him, joining up with that posse of investigators yapping at Donald Trump’s heels. The Trumps? No pets romping around the White House at all, unless you count Mike Pence.
Besides, Donald Trump is a master of projecting an image. He doesn’t need canine assistance. What you see is what you get, particularly if what you see is a lying purveyor of hate. He’s certainly the Republican alpha dog.
As for the Democrats, what distinguishes them at this point is that none of them is distinguished. Each is trying to create an identity — or in the case of Warren and several others, change their identity. They’ve divided into two factions: the centrists (translate: boring) or those unapologetically on the far left, the ones Republicans are painting as radically goofy.
The Democratic primaries will be the party’s process of not only elimination but introspection. No matter which one ultimately prevails as the party’s candidate, the main selling point will be that he or she is not Donald Trump.
(Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.)
© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.