COLUMN: Why Trump reminds me of Fred Flintstone

Posted at 9:42 AM, Mar 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-31 09:50:26-04

A friend of mine cracked what I thought was a joke when I saw him at our Delhi Township polling place March 15: Donald Trump is secretly working to get Hillary Clinton elected.

It’s crazy, right?

After all, Trump says Clinton is too weak to lead and “an embarrassment to our country.” Clinton has called Trump a racist and a bigot and "in a certain way, evil."

On the surface, it seems laughable that the two would be secret allies.

Or does it?

In his victory speech for the Ohio Republican Primary, Ohio Gov. John Kasich thanked Democrats who crossed over to keep Donald Trump from winning the Buckeye state’s 66 GOP delegates. Isn’t that evidence that Democrats might flock to the polls in November to vote against Dangerous Donald, GOP nominee?

DecodeDC columnist Dick Meyer made a strong case for why Trump is “the ideal candidate to lose a general election to a Democrat – any Democrat,” including Hillary:

Contrary to what Trump says in every speech, in the 19 national polls since December 1, 2015, archived by that match Trump against Clinton, Trump has won only two, both within the margin of error.

That prompted me to dig a little deeper.

Now, keep in mind that I’ve never covered politics and didn’t pay much attention to this year’s campaign until it interrupted my regular programming. But I soon realized that I am uniquely qualified to analyze the Trump train. That’s because I’ve covered a few con men while working as a Cincinnati business reporter these last 20 years. Also, I watched a lot of Flintstones reruns when I was a kid.

Here are two things no one can dispute: Trump and Fred Flintstone have never been seen together in the same room. And this conversation between Fred and Wilma sounds a lot like Trump’s relationship with Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly.

But that’s not the only funny thing I learned while “researching” this column.

Turns out the Trump and Clinton clans were downright cozy a decade ago.

Politico reported last June that Trump donated $100,000 to the foundation started by former President Bill Clinton. Both Trump and his son donated to Hillary Clinton campaigns in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Hillary Clinton had “front-pew seating” in 2005 when the Donald married Melania Knauss at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Yes, that is the same club where Donald held his victory speech on Super Tuesday – promising to force Apple to make its phones in the U.S, not China, and confiding with us all that “we need the rich in order to make America great.”

National Public Radio reported last Julythat Trump was mostly a Democratic donor until 2008, when Barack Obama derailed Clinton’s front-runner campaign for the White House.

Now, let’s think back to 2008. The economy was in a free fall. The lame-duck Republican president had an approval rating of 25 percent. The GOP's choice for vice president thought she would be "in charge of the United States Senate" if she won.

If ever there were Republicans that “a Democrat, any Democrat” could defeat, it was the GOP slate of 2008. But Hillary Rodham Clinton never got the chance.

Donald J. Trump is that chance.

How else do you explain a presidential candidate who insists that he can talk Mexico into paying for a $10 billion wall to keep out aliens and – in his spare time, I guess – talk Major League Baseball into re-instating Pete Rose?

Watching the surreality TV spectacle that is Donald Trump, I’ve struggled to rationalize the purpose. Why would he keep promising to negotiate “great deals” on behalf of the American people that he can’t possibly deliver?

To me, it always seemed like he was playing a con, but I never could guess the end game. What if he really is trying to enable Hillary Clinton’s rise to regency by serving as her perfect foil?

It would be much easier to campaign against a fictional character who is predestined to fail, as opposed to a real-life rival who has access to polling, advisers, rational thought and a human conscience.

The strategy could benefit Trump because his business empire now depends on fame more than financial acumen. As the Washington Post has documented, Trump Inc. has morphed from a real-estate enterprise that built things to a company that charges people for slapping the Trump name on various products:

Trump has dabbled in everything from real estate to steak, casinos and beauty queens, and he serves as an executive for more than 500 companies. Yet on top of his real business success, he has built an architecture of self-aggrandizement. “I play to people’s fantasies,” Trump wrote in his 1987 book “The Art of the Deal.” “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

To some degree, all presidential candidates pander to the extremists in their parties, and then move to the center when it comes time to govern. But if you never expect to govern, the pandering can be more extreme.

And so we have the cartoon character that is Candidate Trump.

Of course, this is farcical. It isn’t possible that Fred Flintstone could have been implanted as the front-runner of a mainstream party, even one that spent the last decade catering to the lunatic fringe of American politics.

Or is it the perfect practical joke on a party desperate for votes in the post-Bush era?

Donald Trump is the Pied Piper of GOP crackpots, hostile to women, threatening every minority. All of his critics are weak, fat or stupid. He invites – if not incites – violence by offering to pick up legal tabs for members of his angry mob. His might makes him right-wing crazy. And that makes it uber-easy for Candidate Clinton to pontificate: “That doesn’t make him strong; it makes him wrong.”

Can you imagine Donald Trumpstone enjoying a celebratory dinner with President Hillary Clintrock in a private Mar-a-Lava dining room? The co-conspirators would reminisce about the time they pulled the Woolly Mammoth over the eyes of America’s conservative movement.

“We’re going to be SO successful," Trumpstone would cackle. "You’re going to be SO happy with a cartoon caveman as the leader of your party, believe me.”

Go get ‘em Donald. Yabba Dabba Doo.