Elmer Smith: Trump's out; blame Obama

Donald Trump, smiling last Wednesday in New Hampshire.
Donald Trump, smiling last Wednesday in New Hampshire. (Associated Press)
Posted: May 17, 2011

DAMN!

The Donald will not run for president, depriving us pundits of the one starter in the GOP rotation that all of us could hit for distance.

I blame Barack Obama for this. If he had held out for a few more weeks before releasing his birth certificate, we could have ridden this sucker at least into late summer. Trump had dispatched a squad of researchers to Hawaii with the promise that their findings "would surprise the public."

He had demanded that the president release his academic records from law school. Next, he may have demanded Obama's vaccination records. Do they give whooping-cough shots in Kenya?

By September, Trump's momentum could have carried him into the primary season during which his acerbic take on weighty issues would distinguish him from a bland field of GOP hopefuls.

He had what the others lack, the ability to speak clearly on issues that resonate with the public. We love plain talk in this country, even if its plain stupid.

Who else but Trump would accuse China of "raping this country" and of "stealing manufacturing jobs" with cheap labor even though his own apparel companies sell goods made in China?

You had to love the simple elegance of his reusable solutions to conflicts in the Middle East. Libya: Seize their oil fields! Syria: Seize their oil fields! Iraq: Take $1.5 trillion worth of Iraqi oil to pay for the war.

By the time the race heated up, we would be admiring his footwork as he tried to maintain his balance on the shifting sands of contradictory positions.

Before converting to orthodox conservatism, he had been for abortion and favored Canadian- style single-payer health care. I'm going to miss that dance.

Instead, this is my first and last column about the one candidate who could have made 2011 a summer to remember.

"This decision does not come easily or without regret," he lamented in a prepared statement, "especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country.

"I maintain the strong conviction that, if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately the general election."

Not to put too fine a point on it, but his poll numbers were at an all-time low.

He was down to 8 percent favorable in a Public Policy poll released 10 days ago. Real Clear politics had him at 13 percent favorable, putting him in third place behind Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee - who has since announced that he will not run.

Nearly 60 percent of those responding to a Quinnipiac poll said they'd stay home and rearrange their sock drawers before they'd vote for Trump.

There's a certain boyish charm in his ability to turn his black clouds inside out in search of a silver lining. But I think he knew it was over.

I think the barrage of f-bombs he unleashed in Nevada last week was a sign of surrender. Not everything said in Vegas stays in Vegas.

This is good news for one segment of the American public:Those c-list celebrities who had been wandering aimlessly along the Sunset Strip ever since they lost their boxes on "Hollywood Squares."

Trump wove the tattered shards of their careers into something worth looking at. Those who aren't supple enough to embarrass themselves on "Dancing with the Stars" are lining up to be fired on Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice."

Imagine what he could have done in the White House.

We could have had reality shows like the "Oval Office Outtakes," featuring zany videos of the president saying stupid stuff, or the "West Wing Bowl," on which the first family, surrounded by sagging pole dancers, gorge themselves to the point of projectile vomiting.

He's been gone only a day, but I'm already missing him.

Send email to smithel@phillynews.com or call 215-854-2512. For recent columns: www.philly.com/ElmerSmith

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