Tue | Mar 20, 2018

Editorial: Donald Trump’s bizarre farce

Published:Thursday | December 10, 2015 | 12:00 AM

It makes you wonder whether Donald Trump really wants to win the American presidency. He might not, but could by default come close. In the process, he is doing serious damage to the United States. For, who can take seriously a country where such a loony could be democratically its leader and in control of its nuclear arsenal?

Mr Trump's unrelenting march of unreason reached new depths this week with his call for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States", at least until it

figures how to solve the problem of global terrorism and the threats it poses to its territory. He subsequently narrowed the application of his proposed ban to exclude Muslim Americans who may have gone abroad and wanted to return.

"They're citizens," he said. "That's different."

What's not is the xenophobia and illogic with which he has pursued the Republican Party's nomination for the presidency and the traction that he has received from that party's base, although the primaries are yet to take place. The latest polls testing strength of the Republican hopefuls give Mr Trump support of between 27 and 32 per cent among the party's faithful, which, depending on the pool, is at least 10 percentage points better than his nearest rival, Ted Cruz.

The bizarreness here is that Mr Trump has thrived from a misanthropic platform. He essentially branded Mexicans as a rapist horde that would overrun the United States with illegal immigration, from whom America should seek protection with a border wall more enduring than that of Jericho. He has made misogynistic statements, then brazenly attacked a female journalist when questioned about them during a candidates' debate. He facilitated outrageous remarks against President Obama at his rallies then disingenuously disavowed responsibility.

Mr Trump's behaviour is a kind that would have incurred penalties to the candidate, which make him loath to repeat them, presuming that he intends to broaden base, both within his own party and with the wider electorate. That Mr Trump has failed to moderate his rhetoric raises legitimate questions about the seriousness of his bid for the White House, his concern for the brand of the Republican Party and of America's status as a global leader. For what Donald Trump, on the face of it, ultimately stands to gain are personal notoriety and increased recognition, rather than America's leadership.

However, by keeping Mr Trump in the leadership of the nomination race, potential Republican voters, and others who endorse his farcical posturing, prevent the emergence of consequential candidates and the contest of substantial policy debates. Hopefully, his latest reckless crudity will be a turning point.

As president, Mr Trump could bar Muslims from entering the United States and perhaps, legally, intern Muslim Americans. And he would probably also close the United Nations headquarters; remove Muslim diplomats from America and end relations with their governments, and cease commerce with countries and firms where Muslims are the leaders and may have to enter the US. Maybe, too, he would end any alliance with Muslim groups that fight Islamic State and al-Qaeda terrorists, who would likely gain fillip from the proposal, given its potential for alienating Muslims worldwide.

We suspect that you must be far out when you are lectured by someone like Dick Cheney, as Mr Trump has been.