Back in December, I wrote that Donald Trump was a joke that wasn't funny anymore. His campaign, such as it is, had transformed from being a satire of the entire American political process into a solid impersonation of a pseudo-fascist.
Coming from an era where the word fascist was thrown around entirely too much to explain the distaste for the George W. Bush administration, this was a pretty serious thing. Trump's continued pushes towards some sort of bizarre Make America Reich Again ideology, as evidenced by his not-even-subtle manner of handling protestors at his rallies, should really give most people pause.
Unlike Trump, who encourages his supporters to frog march protestors and people of color, Hillary Clinton coldly dismisses anyone who questions her. Then again, that's always been a part of the thin line between Republicans and Democrats in America — well, as far back as it matters to go, anyway.
So, while there isn't anything particularly funny about Trump anymore, there is one thing about his campaign that is still funny, and it has nothing to do with all these meaningless "takedowns" that pop up twice a week from other politicians or comedians, like Louis C.K. or John Oliver. No, what's still funny about Trump's campaign is how the GOP and the media are largely unable to come to terms with the fact that he is likely to be the Republican Party's 2016 presidential nominee.
Lots of people dismissed Trump as a candidate from the start. They said that he wasn't serious, he had no background, he was just in it for his vanity, and any other thing they could think of. But there was one moment that told me that he was not only serious, but he was actually going to be in it for the long haul: he quit The Apprentice.
There were voices saying he did it only for show. After all, he'd tried to quit the reality TV program before, but that was in 2007, which was oddly not one of the years that Trump toyed with the idea of running for president (his first was back in 1988, which should give the millennials in the audience something to think about).
When Trump quit The Apprentice permanently, a TV show that he claims paid him on average $15 million a year for simply showing up once in a while and handing out some advice and then firing someone, it should have been obvious to everyone that The Donald was serious. When he left that easy gig behind forever, it should have been all anyone needed to understand that he was serious. Yet, here we are, nine months, countless polls, and about a dozen primaries and caucuses later — during which time Trump has largely come out as the leader of the pack — and the media and the GOP are in denial. (It's important to note that the law would have prevented NBC from airing The Apprentice while Trump was running for office, but he could have returned at a later date.)
But when it comes to the reactions of the GOP and the media, denial may not even be the right word. Republican Party chairperson Reince Preibus sends tweets as though he's in an alternate universe where the GOP race isn't an endless dumpster fire of unintelligible yelling and dick jokes. Sure, you could say that Preibus is at least maintaining the ostensible neutrality that a party chair should maintain — I'm totally looking at you right now, Debbie Wasserman Schultz — but that's just not a sufficient explanation. Priebus is either watching a completely different Republican race or telling us all about the really great dream he had last night, one which he believes with all his heart really happened.
Meanwhile, the party that spent a large part of the 1980s and '90s belittling leftist college professors and their wishy-washy post-modern, anything goes, I'm OK-you're OK attitudes are suddenly being represented by candidates for whom second-place is "winning" and winning one state on Super Tuesday is a surge. Coffee may be for closers, but for the Republican Party of 2016, it seems like a good idea to line up the losers and also-rans against Trump.
Meanwhile, the media — when not giving Trump more free time than most national disasters of the last decade have gotten — appears to be furiously repeating the "he's not the candidate yet" mantra. His path to the nomination isn't certain, they tell us. He's got a long way to go yet. There's still ways for Ted Cruz and/or Marco Rubio and/or a player to be named later to figure out how to stop Trump.
These are the same geniuses who told us nine months ago that Donald Trump wasn't serious and didn't have a chance in the first place, and since then, they have told us weekly that The Donald's candidacy had reached the end of the road.
If nothing else, Trump is destroying the idea of the political pundit, and that's probably not a bad thing.