On the EDge: Trump borrows a page from movie classic

Image composite St. George News

OPINION – There is a lot of hand wringing and gnashing of teeth as Donald Trump prepares to waltz through what remains of the Republican primaries.

As the last one standing, it is assumed that he will walk away from Cleveland this summer clutching tightly to the GOP nomination.

While the jury may still be out on that – those rascally Republicans are still looking at ways to trump his delegates – it is clear that he has resonated with a certain segment of the fractious party.

Republican traditionalists, meanwhile, are wondering what in the world happened to their party. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who was once thought to be the new face of the Republican party, is among those still unwilling to yield and throw his considerable political clout behind Trump. In fact, Ryan may not even show up for the convention.

Although he will never be considered an intellectual by anybody’s measure, Trump is not a dumb man. In fact, he is fairly shrewd. He clearly understands the theatrics of the political stage and how to exploit them in rudimentary fashion, something he obviously picked up when he was an actor on the WWE payroll.

His game plan was stolen from the brilliant Paddy Chayefsky, who introduced us to one of Hollywood’s most troubled characters, Howard Beale, in the film “Network.”

Peter Finch earned an Oscar for his portrayal of Beale, a disillusioned television news anchorman who promises to kill himself on the air. As the storyline goes, he connects with an ever-increasing audience that taps into his despair and shares his anger. The film gave us one of Hollywood’s most memorable lines: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Beale’s agenda, rooted in his anger over declining civility and a fractured culture, no longer matters as he soars to the heights of the television industry. People clamor to him simply because he is a conduit for their anger and frustration. They look up to him because they say he says the things that they all wish they could say in an unfettered world.

Sound familiar?

It should.

It’s the Trump campaign playbook.

Although not motivated by social or cultural injustice as Beale was, Trump learned how to tap into the undercurrent of anger so prevalent in the United States today.

Like Beale’s bosses in the TV industry, GOP officials were taken aback by Trump’s brash, crude attack-dog tactics. The old guard remains uncomfortable with Trump, which only strengthens his hold on the disgruntled who say they have grown weary of the status quo. The more uncomfortable party leaders became, the more comfortable voters became with Trump, who senses this and does his best to make GOP leadership squirm even more.

Voters have eaten this up because it allows them, by supporting Trump, to exact revenge on party leaders who these voters believe have abandoned them and their interests.

I truly doubt many of those in the Trump camp actually fall in line with his politics or his philosophies. I think most like him just because he is brash, in-your-face, a finger poke in the eye of GOP leadership.

Even though he is, in reality, a billionaire real estate mogul, he is, in their eyes, “one of them,” even though he has probably never had to rely on a box of mac and cheese for dinner or worried that he couldn’t make the month’s rent.

He is perceived as a political outsider, a position of rich appeal to his followers.

The thing is, Trump is anything but a political outsider.

He has used his fortune to buy favors by donating millions of dollars to various political campaigns, a fact he often brags about, in an effort to swing even more political power.

He has, for example, given a lot of money to the Clinton Foundation, has contributed to Sen. Harry Reid’s campaign, Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell’s campaign and even forked over $50,000 to Rahm Emanuel in his race to become mayor of Chicago. There were also other contributions to various Democratic Party funds.

When questioned about it during the first Republican debate, Trump acknowledged his contributions.

Hillary Clinton, I said ‘be at my wedding,’ and she came to my wedding,” he said. “She had no choice because I gave to a foundation.”

At a later debate, he talked about other contributions.

“I gave to many people before this,” Trump said. “When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them. They are there for me.”

No, there is nothing “outsider” about him other than the illusion he has created. Trump is as much of an insider as the crafty Reid, Sen. Orrin Hatch, either of the Clintons or any of the others who practice the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” brand of politics.

The problem for Trump is that if, indeed, this is a case of life imitating art, his future isn’t very bright.

You see, in the film “Network,” Beale becomes too powerful, too much of a threat to the corporate monolith, so they have him killed by a radical terrorist, who, by the way, also had his own successful television program.

As we have seen, the “suits” in the Republican Party have already armed and placed a number of political snipers in place with the mission of knocking Trump off the ballot.

So far, they’ve been firing blanks.

But, there is still a lot of time between now and the convention in Cleveland in two months and, quite frankly, anything can – and probably will – happen.

For the wonks who love to watch and study politics, it should be quite a show.

But, I worry about the lingering impact Election 2016 will have on a badly divided and exceedingly angry nation.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!


  • DB May 10, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    I think what happens IN the convention hall will be pretty cut-and-dried. I worry about what will be happening OUTSIDE the hall.

  • Henry May 11, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    The latest example of convoluted ED logic. How about the behavior of the wild-eyed Socialist, or the smear agent with a horrible record of decision making and zero integrity? And guess what Ed? The “badly divided and exceedingly angry nation” is clearly the result of Barack Hussein Obama.

    • fun bag May 11, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      “The “badly divided and exceedingly angry nation” is clearly the result of Barack Hussein Obama.”

      son, u got a memory like a goldfish or what? the previous autocrat was every bit as bad…

  • fun bag May 11, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    i think Hitlery will be the next dictator

  • Henry May 12, 2016 at 7:50 am

    Fun Bag – put down the medical marijuana for your glaucoma. Bush 43 was in NO WAY as devisive as Obama.

  • John June 1, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    I know the bible says “he who is without sin should cast the first stone” but don’t you think the presidential political handbook should have something like “he who has had multiple wives, is accused of defrauding the poor, insults all who challenge him and has no plan other than to claim power over everything, should be disqualified by all political parties.” Just askin’, because people who should know better are trying to excuse his behavior by pointing fingers at other candidates.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.