SAN DIEGO, Sept. 4, 2015 —So he finally did it: Donald Trump made the pledge that establishment Republicans have been salivating over. He finally promised that he would not run a third-party campaign should he lose the Republican nomination.
That was important inasmuch as a third party race would split the conservative (or perhaps more correctly put, non-Democratic) vote. It would resurrect the same Ross Perot effect that once propelled Bill Clinton into the White House.
Well now we need not worry about any Perot parrot. Whew! Can you just hear Republicans all over the country giving off a sigh of relief?
Then again, perhaps the celebration should be postponed. Some reflection is in order. In reality, this means nothing, absolutely nothing.
Here is Trump’s promise in his exact words: “The best way for the Republicans to win is if I win the nomination and go directly against whoever they happen to put up. And for that reason, I have signed the pledge…So I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and for the conservative principles for which it stands.”
Brings a tear to my eye, especially the part that sounds like a Pledge of Allegiance to our flag. Not only is he pledging but he’s pledging because he’s more or less sure he will win the nomination. So why not?
Lest we forget, those were not Trump’s only words. He also said he was signing the pledge because the Republican Party as of late has been “extremely fair” to him.
Trump also insisted that nothing was promised to him in return for making the pledge. I guess the retracted threat of not allowing his name on the ballot in several primary races doesn’t count as him getting anything in return.
Flash forward into the future: Suppose Trump does not get the nomination after all? Perhaps neither he nor his loyal groupies are able to imagine such an unthinkable scenario, but anything is possible. Should Trump lose the Republican nomination, is he now stuck with a pledge he wished he had not signed? Are his hands tied from running as a third party-candidate? Absolutely not!
Don’t forget, as a businessman, Trump knows the difference between signing a legally binding contract and signing a worthless piece of paper that might just as easily be assembled into a worthless paper plane.
But it isn’t just a matter of being legally protected. Going back on his promise won’t hurt Trump much in the world of P.R. either.
I can just hear the future press conference right now:
“Mr. Trump, inasmuch as you are now launching a third-party campaign, is it safe to say that you lied when you pledged not to do so?”
“Oh I didn’t lie. Are you from CNN? Those guys always take jabs at me. Did I lie? Of course not! I didn’t lie at all. I made the promise because at the time, I was being treated fair. But the Republicans stopped treating me fair. So let’s be clear! They went back on their promise! I did not go back on mine. Trust me. I’ve made deals all my life and I always make a good deal. But it takes two sides to make a deal. I honored my side. Too bad the Republicans didn’t honor theirs.”
You will notice that “fair treatment” has not been precisely defined. It could mean anything. It could be as simple as Trump’s concluding that losing the nomination is unthinkable in the face of his mammoth poll numbers. Should he lose a few primaries anyway, there is only one conclusion to draw: He wasn’t being treated fair. Either the polls were rigged, or some negative campaign commercial did him in. Trump’s own negative ads, incidentally, are not really negative. They merely speak the truth.
Say hello to Hillary, Sanders, Biden or Joe Generic Democrat, should Trump break his pledge, all the while denying that he broke his pledge.
But be of good cheer! All is not lost! There will still be some pleasant news. Our country will be in ruins, but we’ll at least have a new word in the dictionary:
Trumpie: A kind of groupie who blindly follows anyone who speaks bluntly, without respect to what his blunt speech is actually saying.
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious, obvious.
NOTE: I do not dislike Trump. As I said in my previous column, I give him a mixed review. The term “Trumpie” means no disrespect to anyone who might have well thought out reasons to support Donald Trump. I am instead talking about those who defend him right or wrong and follow the man as if he is some kind of Messiah. -Bob Siegel
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and a columnist. Details of his show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net