Even though NBC, Macy's, and a long list of other sponsors fired him in July for his comments about immigrants from Mexico, Donald Trump is like the Energizer Bunny. He keeps going and going. All the while, he insults opponents, brags about himself, and refuses to take the blame for doing anything wrong. To the amazement of many, he continues to lead in the polls. In fact, with each insult his lead seems to increase. As of this writing, his poll numbers reached 32% -- increasing 8 percent since August.
What's the fascination with Trump?
Taken all together, Trump is entertaining. Many can't wait to see what he will say or do next - whether they like him or not. Some like him because he is not "politically correct," but says what he thinks. That's refreshing when many of his rivals put a different "spin" on their positions every time they speak to a different audience. Thanks to the Apprentice, some believe he is a great businessman.
The other view of Trump
Others view Trump as a modern Wizard of Oz with little substance behind his self-proclaimed image as a winner. Perhaps he'll pick Charlie Sheen as his running mate since one of Charlie's pet phrases is "winning." Two years ago, New York's Attorney General filed a lawsuit that accused Trump of defrauding students of Trump University - an unlicensed seminar company that does not satisfy the legal requirements of being called a university. One thing is certain. Trump has become a celebrity that likes to be in the spotlight. What is not clear is how much of Trump is real and how much is "reality show" or smoke and mirrors?
Successful businessman image
Trump has Mark Burnett to thank for his positive business image. Burnett created the Apprentice - a reality show that portrays Trump as a "great businessman." In dramatic Boardroom scenes, Trump decided which contestants to fire and which to save so they can compete to become his apprentice. Even though the show was deemed a success, reviews of Trump by contestants are not always complimentary. What's more, NBC fired Trump in July after incendiary comments about Mexican immigrants and Mexico. If the show continues, it won't be with Trump.
Not his first rodeo
The Apprentice was not Trump's first success. Born into a wealthy family, The Donald (as his first wife Ivana branded him) took over the family real estate business. He had some early development success acquiring properties at favorable rates - often using other people's money, improving them, and selling them at a profit. He successfully rode several real estate booms. However, there were busts too.
Failures paint another picture
His development activities created a mountain of debt that led to a series of business failures and bankruptcies. His marriage to his first wife collapsed because of an extramarital affair with Marla Maples, whom he later married and divorced six years later. He has since married his third wife, Melania Knauss. The suit filed by New York's Attorney General is just one in a string of lawsuits involving Mr. Trump and his companies.
Attacks on others reflect poorly on him
In addition to being litigious, Trump has publicly attacked President Obama - questioning his American citizenship and his college record. He has also attacked a long list of public figures from all sides of the political spectrum including Carly Fiorina, Karim Abdul Jabbar, John McCain, Rosie O'Donnell, Megyn Kelly, Charles Krauthammer, Arianna Huffington, Lord Sugar (host of the UK version of the Apprentice and member of the House of Lords), and even fellow Republican Karl Rove (recognized as chief architect of George W. Bush's two presidential wins). What he apparently does not realize is that every attack has had a boomerang effect on him. As a rule, good businessmen understand that disparaging others is not an effective strategy. This is why some openly call Trump a windbag, scam artist, and a fraud. Even friends have criticized his attacks.
Even when proof was provided to refute his allegations about President Obama's citizenship and education record, he questioned the authenticity of the evidence without even examining it. Similarly, the lawsuit filed by the Attorney General of New York does nothing to help Trump's credibility. If he really wants to win the presidential nomination, he needs to stop attacking people with innuendos and start providing independent, credible, 3rd-party proof to support his claims. Otherwise, he will continue to erode his public image, which is not good for his political aspirations or his business.
Adding up all the positives and negatives
After you tally all the plusses and minuses of the Trump candidacy, one fact remains. Trump is still ahead in the polls. Will that be the case after the primaries and some more debates? It's anyone's guess. For now, one thing is clear - the public is sending a message to the candidates. Politics as usual, at least for now, is out the window, and the candidates that are political outsiders, which say what they think, are the ones that are in the lead. What happens from this point forward is likely to be both interesting and entertaining.