Donald Trump using presidential bid to boost public exposure

Before Donald Trump began flirting with a presidential bid, the American public had the good fortune of being able to focus on actual political issues — if only for a short time.

But as this novelty candidate continues to thrust himself into the public eye, and media organizations lack the integrity to ignore him, the 2012 election cycle is already looking pretty bleak for those who want a serious presidential race in these serious times.

Trump is not a real candidate, and it only takes a bit of deduction to figure that out. For one, his main issue, the birther controversy, has already been resolved — twice. Obama produced a short form birth certificate in 2008 that should have quelled any and all conspiracy theories, but radicalism persisted. Luckily the general public recognized that radicalism for what it was, and birther commentary gradually began to fade from the daily news feed.

Trump brought it all back again in an obvious attempt to rally members of the far-right still concerned about Obama’s eligibility as president. It was the issue he used to spearhead his emergence as a potential candidate. The White House released the president’s long-form birth certification last week, effectively breaking down Trump’s only soapbox. Now he has to focus on real issues, which he is clearly incapable of doing.

One of the few issues that Trump has discussed is his stance on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

“The OPEC nations will be acting much differently, and fuel prices will go down and the economy will become strong again,” he said. “They may like me or not like me, but nobody will be ripping us off.”

Apparently Trump plans to tackle the OPEC issue with his superior interpersonal skills. If you’d like an example of how he handles people he doesn’t see eye to eye with, take a look at the tantrum he threw with Rosie O’Donnell back in 2006. Or his personal conduct on his two reality shows. The man isn’t used to playing nice — or even playing diplomatically — which would translate into disaster on the international level.

The only qualification that Trump has as a potential presidential candidate is his track record as a successful businessman. But that success is built on public image, a public image crafted on the principle of “No publicity is bad publicity.” And that’s the same principle at work behind his recent statements to the media.

Of course, the polls seem to paint an entirely different picture; Trump looks like a real candidate, the front-runner even. But that’s because the polls are based primarily on name recognition and are being conducted far too soon. Most potential candidates haven’t even announced their candidacy. Issues aren’t being discussed in anything but the vaguest terms, and campaigning hasn’t even begun. It’s all about name recognition and, for a man who has spent the past three decades selling himself, it’s an easy game to win.

Later in the game, when the fact-checking and smear campaigns heat up, Trump won’t stand a chance. As a businessman playing hardball for decades, he’s sure to have made hundreds of enemies and his fair share of ethical compromises. Even now, during the softest part of the election, scandals have already begun to emerge: Trump sued for not renting to blacks, Trump dodges draft, Trump has history of donating to Democrats. The list goes on, and it’s likely to expand when he is forced to release detailed financial information upon officially declaring candidacy.

It’s time to write Donald Trump off as a joke candidate. He knows that every kind of publicity will boost his private worth and, thus, is heartlessly taking advantage of the system. His only issues thus far have been harassing the president, flaunting his wealth and proposing to bully the free market system.

As members of the Fourth Estate, the media, we should make a joint effort to treat this election with the weight and professionalism that it deserves. The nation is at a crucial turning point economically, socially and internationally, and we need serious candidates with serious plans for the future. Donald Trump is not one of those candidates, so he should be ignored until he limps back to reality TV.