David Hoppe

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:: What to ask The Donald

by David Hoppe

As Republican wannabes gear up for their second presidential debate this Wednesday, the Number One issue appears to be: The Donald.

How, that is, to deal with Donald Trump and his scene-stealing, bellicose ways.

At the first Republican debate, in August, Fox News’ Bret Baier kicked things off by asking the assembled candidates whether they were all willing to pledge support to the eventual Republican nominee. This was a not-so-subtle way of putting Trump on the spot.

But Trump not only rose to the bait, he swallowed it in a lusty gulp. First he raised his hand, the only candidate to refuse such a pledge (he’s since changed his mind, in yet another publicity-gobbling gesture). Then he turned the question into an opportunity, becoming the first candidate to speak that night, thus succeeding in making much of what followed about nothing so much as Himself.

To those Republican candidates who are trying to figure out what, exactly, Trump stands for, not to mention Jake Tapper, the journalist whose task it will be to try and herd those red-striped cats, I have a suggestion. Stop trying to get the guy to say how he would do this or that. This line of questioning goes nowhere. Indeed, Trump lampooned the very idea of talking policy with Jimmy Fallon last week. Fallon made himself up as Trump’s double and asked The Donald: “How are you gonna create great jobs in this country?”

“I’m just gonna do it,” answered Trump.

When Fallon tried asking a follow-up question on how Trump was gonna create those great jobs, Trump doubled down: “By doing it. It just happens.”

This, basically, has been Trump’s answer to all questions about what a Trump presidency might be like.

So here’s what I wish someone would ask him: “Mr. Trump, on the day you are sworn in as President of the United States, you will be asked to protect and defend this country’s Constitution. Are you OK with that?”

It’s interesting: Pundits and pollsters have been wondering who’s behind Trump’s steadily increasing poll numbers. When a recent YouGov poll asked Americans if they could imagine a situation where they would support a U.S. government takeover by the armed forces, 29 percent of respondents, 43 percent of whom identified themselves as Republican, answered Yes.

On immigration, the only subject where he’s been willing to elaborate on what he’d do, Trump has called for the deportation of approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants and their families. As usual, he doesn’t say how he would accomplish this, but try to imagine what it would look like. Perhaps the words Police State come to mind.

Maybe Trump is thinking of how well the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II worked out. Is that the way he wants to “Make America Great Again?”

Donald Trump likes to describe himself as a deal maker. It’s beginning to seem as if his idea of running the country amounts to a hostile takeover.