What’s it like to be at Mar-a-Lago — Donald Trump’s personal Xanadu for what George Bernard Shaw called the MIRCs (Members of the Idle Rich Class)? Well, one thing’s for sure, reporters are not MIRC around here, but Evelyn Waugh could have told you that back when he wrote Scoop (1938). We contemporary denizens of Grub Street were shuttled off around the back, even the semi-celebs among us, and made to park in the local equivalent of Siberia (poor analogy, I know, for 87 degree weather).
Still, the views were glorious and MaL is a swell place, even if you are consigned to a narrow desk behind some camera risers at the back of the ballroom. It’s a ballroom nevertheless and no one is stopping you from ogling the dozen or so chandeliers, hanging, Versailles-like, from the ceiling — even if they don’t have any Wi-Fi and you’re forced to bring your own and the concession table is restricted to some sodas and — you guessed it — plastic bottles of Trump water. I know Donald’s a teetotaler, hence no booze, but how about a little crudités or even some chips? (Perhaps we were being given a hidden message in market economics.)
But who’s to complain? We were all inside what was, for now anyway, ground zero of the Western World and even if you didn’t have your own Bentley or Maserati like the card-carrying MaL regulars with the good seats up front, you could still have a fine time — if you were patient enough.
Because we were all doing the same thing — “Waiting for Donald.” Now this didn’t resemble “Waiting for Godot” in the slightest and certainly not “Waiting for Lefty.” We were simply waiting for Trump to have a good reading of how the night would go, so he could position his remarks accordingly, maybe even declare victory over all and play the gracious grand seigneur many of us have been wanting to see.
The press conference was called for nine, but that hour had come and gone with no Donald, although results had trickled in. As predicted Florida had fallen to Trump and Marco, despite his protestations, had dropped out. Ohio, as similarly predicted, was called for Kasich. The winner-take-all states were done. But North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri were still out there. Trump was in the lead in all three by varying amounts, but none had been called and some of his leads were precarious. It looked to be a long night.
We would wait. Now it was 9:30. Kasich was speaking. He’s a little sanctimonious for my taste, but he’s doing surprisingly well tonight, challenging Cruz for second place in Illinois where Trump has a decent lead. Oh, please, call a victory and take us out of our misery. (This last plea was self-serving. My hotel was in Miami, two hours drive from the Palm Beach location of Mar-a-Lago.)
At 9:38 a roar went up and everyone in the press section rushed around the cameras for a view. A functionary, for some undisclosed reason, had appeared on the stage, perhaps to leave water on the podium (shades of Marco). Let’s hope it was Trump vintage and not some foreign brew like Perrier or Pellegrino. In any case, it was a false alarm and everyone went back to their places — to wait.
Then, fifteen minutes later, a pastor appeared and finally introduced Donald, who took the stage flanked, as he often is, by his extended family. The loyalty of this family is one of Trump’s greatest assets. People as rich and famous as Trump frequently have problem or dissolute children. Donald has not. They are upstanding citizens, successful in their own rights and fully in his corner.
It was a subdued and relaxed Trump — and I suspect therefore the most potent one — that talked to us Tuesday night. He praised Rubio for his campaign — no mention of little Marco — and talked again of party unity and maximizing the large Republican turnouts that he and others were generating. He spoke before all the results were in, but he was leading in four of the five races. If that keeps up, it should really all be over. I’ll probably know by the time I get back to my hotel in Miami. I just noticed North Carolina was already called for Donald. And Illinois. Only Missouri sits out there, a possible lone victory for Cruz.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His next book — I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already — will be published by Encounter Books in June 2016.