I know it sounds crazy to say in a presidential year when the two candidates are supposedly the two most reviled in modern history that one of them is going to win — I think going away — because he’s vastly more likable, but it’s true.
And I say this not just because Donald Trump’s rallies are better attended than Hillary Clinton’s by a factor somewhere in the vicinity of 5000%. (No exaggeration. Donald routinely draws 10,000 people. A recent Hillary appearance at Temple University — where she was supposed to make that final, serious pitch to nail down the votes of vacillating millennials — attracted barely 200 out of a student body of 37,000.)
In my ‘hood in the mega-blue Hollywood Hills where Hillary is certain to win upwards of 97% of the vote, there is nary a Hillary-Kaine yard sign to be seen, nor an “I’m With Her” bumper sticker blemishing a single newly minted Tesla. Four years ago the neighborhood was swarming with Obama signs and stickers. Nobody cares about Hillary. Everyone knows she’s a sourpuss. Nobody wants to see her. They’ll vote for her, if she’ll only leave them alone. (Of course you won’t find a Trump bumper sticker within miles of here. The few of us who support him don’t want to get our cars keyed. And forget the yard signs. Staying on decent terms with your neighbors is a necessity in earthquake country.)
Nevertheless, out here in LaLaLand, Trump has got the natives running scared, not because he’s a threat to win California, but because they know he’s funny. In show business, the saying goes, funny is money. Donald’s what’s known in Hollywood as a “bankable star.” As every television executive in the business knows, no one can get enough of him on the tube. When he’s on a show with big-time professionals like Jimmy Fallon, Donald’s the talent. He commands the screen.
Now you could say that doesn’t ultimately mean much in something as serious as a presidential election, but I suspect you’d be wrong. Possibly the most significant thing we’re voting for in this contest is someone we want to hang with for the next four, possibly eight, years. Consciously or unconsciously, that is a heavy consideration for practically all of us when we walk into the voting booth. We want someone who will wear well.
Unfortunately for Hillary, she is a particularly extreme case of had-enough-of-her-for-life. Trump, who keeps surprising us, holds our attention. He’s amusing to all but the most extreme progressive and uptight NeverTrumper, even if we or they disagree with much of what he says and think he’s a racist or a sexist.
Of course the latter part is utter nonsense. You don’t have to believe me about the racism. Ask Diamond and Silk. Would you trust them or would you trust, say, Juan Williams? And as for the sexism, please-louise, it’s the reverse. If anything, Trump’s a closet gynosupremacist. He’s nuts about women (well, except Megyn Kelly). Ivanka and Kellyanne Conway are the dominant figures in his campaign and are likely to have key positions in a Trump administration. I’d take either of them over Valerie Jarrett, by a long shot.
In the final analysis, I suspect this likability issue is what the debates will be about. Sure, issues will come and go and pundits will bloviate about them, myself included, but at the end of the day (okay, shoot me for using the world’s worst cliché but I already have used “in the final analysis” in the previous sentence) it’ll be about whom you’d want to have a beer with… and then another…. and then another.
Now the conventional wisdom is that Hillary Clinton’s “ground game” will overcome all of this. That’s what they said about several people (Bush, Cruz) during the primary season. We know how that turned out.
Look at it this way: you wake up on November 9, 2016, and Hillary Clinton has won. Your (and most Americans’) reaction would be to exhale, groan, shrug, and say “Do I really have to?” And then you fall back to bed for a few more hours of sleep. .
With Trump winning, you bolt up in bed with a start, throw off the covers, and say: “Oh, my God! Now what?!”
Roger L. Simon is a prize-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His most recent book is—I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already