How to solve a problem like Donald Trump? When the famously carrot-topped and pugnacious real-estate mogul announced he would run for the president of the US, his presumption was met with dismissive chuckles and a keen sense of anticipation from late night comedy show hosts. Pundits explained that despite the big splash his candidature made, a rank outsider could not last in a crowded field of Republicans running to secure the party nomination. Roll to a month later, and Trump isn’t just still in the field, he’s leading it. He is queering the pitch for the “serious” Republican candidates — the likes of Jeb Bush and Scott Walker — who must now devote a considerable chunk of their time and resources to developing a strategy to counter a man The Daily Show host Jon Stewart compared to a “spectacular, man-made disaster”.
Past years have seen a procession of fairly ridiculous spoiler candidates channel a surge of support from the party’s disgruntled base, but Trump is rapidly scaling the threat charts to rise up the list from “inconvenient and disruptive blowhard” to “nightmare comic-book villain”, for no one more than the Republican leadership. He has contended that the vast majority of Mexicans are drug-addled rapists — and followed it up by accusing the Mexican government of “forcing” its “most unwanted people” across the border, along with “tremendous infectious disease”. Bad news for a party that wants to build bridges with the fast-growing Hispanic population. Senator John McCain was his next target: The best-known exponent of the backcomb pointed out that McCain wasn’t a true war hero because he’d spent all those years while his country was at war imprisoned by the enemy.
Amazingly, none of this has affected his popularity, though it has blown up his brand value as the embodiment of vulgar wealth. He’s been fired from Celebrity Apprentice. So we wait, agog, for the next instalment in the saga of Donald Trump: Master GOP Troll.