P.T. Trump

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Jeff Morosoff, Special Asst. Professor, Hofstra University

The 2011 version of P.T. Barnum, Donald Trump has become the nation’s–to use President Obama’s words–“carnival barker.”  P.T. Barnum (photo, top right), you’ll remember, was the shameless 19th century promoter of many things odd and spectacular.  Many of his claims and circus curiosities were untrue but people paid to see them, hence his oft-quoted theory: “There’s a sucker born every minute.”  Trump (photo, bottom left), always the bloviating showman, is using the coming presidential election as his new soapbox, choosing the “birther” issue to get tons of media coverage.  His insistence that Mr. Obama prove (again) his U.S. birth inevitably worked; the president released a “long form” version of his birth certificate in an attempt to end the “distraction” this long, silly discussion has created.

But many say the issue for birthers is not really Barack Obama’s birthplace.  Some believe it’s racism, pure and simple.  The birthers won’t say it out loud or on camera, but it pains them to see a left-leaning, personally popular black man in the White House.

I, for one, don’t believe that Donald Trump is a racist.  In fact, I don’t think he really believed that Obama may  not have been born here.  Trump lives to promote Trump and uses plenty of exaggerations and untruths to do so.  He claims his TV show is NBC’s top-rated program; it’s not–it’s “The Office.”  A few years ago he said he was worth $3.6 billion; his bank said he was worth $688 million.  He says he’s a Republican, yet he’s given more money to Democratic candidates than to Republicans.  Yes, like P.T. Barnum before him, Donald Trump promotes Donald Trump very well.  I predict he’s not serious about running for president…I believe he’s using this moment to get headlines.  Next to money, it’s what The Donald craves most.  Your thoughts?

13 thoughts on “P.T. Trump

  1. Alyssa

    I agree Professor, I dont think Trump is a racist I think he loves a gimmick. Trump knows the value of a news hook and he took this presidential election hook and ran with it. Its no surprise to me he announced he wasn’t going to run for presidency on the same day NBC announced a new season of Celebrity Apprentice. This announcement was also made at an NBC up front party to convince advertisers to buy ad space on NBC. Basically Americans gave Trump exactly what he wanted – attention and ratings!

  2. Kirsten

    As Donald Trump officially announced yesterday that he would not be running for the GOP presidential candidacy, I find that now, more than over the course of the last few weeks, it is evident that Mr. Trump did this all as a publicity stunt, or rather gimmick.

    A lot of people seemed to find the idea of Donald Trump campaigning hilarious, but the man had a solid following of people based on his platform to strengthen America’s entrepreneurial tradition. With Trump’s lack of international policy and the planned increase of global tariffs, it is hard for me to believe that people had any real interest in anything but Trump’s money.

    Though I’m sure, if he did run America, it would be, “The greatest show on earth…”

  3. vfrary

    I think that Donald Trump is an extremely savvy businessman and I’ve heard that many people would vote for him because of that aspect. I don’t think that he’s racist, I think that he’s just questioning the legality of Obama’s presidency in order to create a buzz around his name. In the political, and PR world, what’s he’s doing could work for him if he ends up running for president.

  4. Pete Guaraldi

    Not to make this into a political debate, but where were the outcries to see Bush, Clinton and Bush’s birth certificates in their respective first terms?

    Trump’s antics were not only semi-offensive to minorities in this country, but his “campaign” to join the enter the race is just for publicity. Look at his track record: he hasn’t voted in a primary election in 21 years, several of his companies have declared bankruptcy and most importantly, he’ll never release any of the required financial records necessary to become a political figure in this country.

  5. Amanda Nissenbaum

    I hate to be heartless, but I agree with Lisa’s first comment. If he was born in the U.S then exactly what she said, why has it taken him this long to show us his birth certificate. It’s not to say that I don’t like Obama and that I think Trump is right for saying what he did, because believe me, that’s definitely not the case, but after learning about who Trump is as a person from his show the Apprentice, to his interviews, and his smarts of owning real estate, he is going to say what he wants to say and he doesn’t care what others think. After all if I were in his shoes, I probably wouldn’t care either.

  6. Lisa Jablon

    Honestly, and I’m just being honest, if Barack Obama was born here, then why is it taking him so long to “prove” it and show his real birth certificate? Just a thought…

    Whether I agree with Trump’s accusation or not, I do agree that he is going to do whatever he needs to do to self-promote and stay a “contender” in this presidential race. If that means he’s going to demean Barack Obama and cause many skeptics to believe that Obama may not have been born here, then that’s what he’s going to do. A leverage point to Trump is all he can use.

    But a leverage point in comedy, however, was Donald Trump. Literally laughed out loud watching Seth Meyers’s White House Correspondents Dinner speech.


  7. Caitlin Brown

    I’d just like to say that I find it silly how people get worked up about politics, as I for one don’t really have much use for them – I see it as just another way for people to try and throw their weight around, good or bad. Without stepping on too many toes or sharing names, I personally know people who still think Obama’s a Muslim and not born in the U.S., and who would vote for Trump if he actually ran. To be completely frank, I don’t really have much of an opinion – I’m not a registered voter, nor do I want to be, mainly because I don’t know much about the system and nor do I really want to.

    No matter what the topic, Trump has proven himself to be a great businessman, whether we the public find his ways and means to be ethical or not. However, in light of recent events, I think Trump has to do some reputation management (his recent speech sure got him some negative press), and currently Obama’s back in the majority of the public’s good graces. Headlines, money, politics, whatever you may call it – Trump knows how to play the game, whether he wins or loses. However, I wouldn’t call him “presidential material;” Obama’s got him beat in that fight.

  8. tori tarkhan

    I completely agree with your opinions about Donald Trump. He is not a racist, but lives by the rule that all press is good press. He consistently pops up in the media right before and during the airing of The Apprentice. I think it is his strategy, and quite frankly, it has worked for him. Although he is controversial, America is talking about him, and I believe that is what he essentially cares about. Donald Trump is an interesting person to analyze from a PR stand point because everyone is going to have their opinions.

  9. Briana DeLuca

    There are many issues at hand in America at this time, so I believe it is unethical for Donald Trump to stir up meaningless controversies for his own good. I think he is doing it to promote himself too, but who really knows? He should definitely stick to business because ruthless business practices will only harm the country. The article that was posted by Julie only proves that.

  10. Alexandra Backes

    I think it is crazy that Trump would even consider to run for office. He is a businessman and he does that very well, but President of the United States is completely different than The Apprentice. If he did announce his consideration of President as a publicity stunt then he has been very successful in creating a huge buzz about himself. However, if he announced it as a serious consideration he should really reconsider.

  11. bltstar

    You are absolutely right! Trump is without a doubt one of the most media savvy billionaires/multi-millionaires around. I actually think that if he were to run for President he could do a lot of good for this country. Trump has two great qualities. He handles money extremely well and has a great international reputation. These are probably the two areas that the United States is struggling with most at this time. Nonetheless, I like you think that he is only using his recent headlines as a publicity stunt rather than a serious run for office.

  12. Jacqueline Chiapuzzi

    Agreed, as a business man he has done his job and done it well but as president he would have no idea where to start. I would like to know who said to him ” yea! try and be the next president.” and really thought it was a good idea, if it was his publicist they need to find another job.

  13. Julie

    Personally, I think that Donald Trump is a joke and this entire situation is ridiculous. If he was so suspicious about Obama’s birth certificate, why wait until he was already in office for 3 years? I think people like Trump are the reason why other countries lose their respect for America–how can anyone take a country seriously if they’re questioning their own elected president’s birth certificate?

    I also really enjoyed this article “Donald Trump Accidentally Admits He’d Commit War Crimes as President”


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