But I just came across this Politico Magazine piece from a couple of days ago:
... The ease with which Trump has stepped into the passion vacuum in the Republican race points up a bigger problem for Jeb: The only excitement generated by his Bush candidacy so far seems manufactured, much like the exclamation point at the end of his Jeb! logo.I've been expecting the press to demonstrate a craving for a Republican Daddy in this election cycle. I assumed journalists were going to content themselves with the shambolic, doughy Daddy Jeb seems to have become. But ... they're calling him Dukakis! Maybe it's not going to work out for Jeb.
... Recall the infamous moment when Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic nominee, was asked by CNN’s Bernard Shaw at a debate whether he would support the death penalty if his wife, Kitty, were raped and murdered. Dukakis’ passionless reply -- “No, I don't, Bernard, and I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life” -- solidified his reputation as an out-of-touch wonk.
Bush may be in the process of generating a similar image on the campaign trail....
Which is not to say that the press is coming around to Donald Trump and his "passion" -- at least not yet. But I wonder if it could happen.
Shortly before I read this Politico piece, I saw that Hunter at Daily Kos was quoting a harrumphy mid-June critique of Trump from Chuck Todd. Here's the discussion, from an episode of Morning Joe:
CHUCK TODD: This is the problem with Trump. He doesn't play by a set of rules. And this is why campaigns complain to folks like me off the record but they don't have the guts to criticize him on the record because they know he's kind of a media bully. You know what I mean? He doesn't -- he plays by his own set of rules. He'll say whatever. He'll go on any platform to say it. And that's why I say, look, we've all --Pause a moment to be disgusted at Todd's cheerleading for "the strongest Republican party presidential field in 36 years," then notice what he says about Trump -- yes, Trump disgusts him, but it would take very little for Trump to pass the Todd test. Joe Scarborough -- and I hate acknowledging that Scarborough is the voice of reason here -- asks Todd why he's not similarly disgusted by Ben Carson, and Todd says that Carson is a legitimate candidate, "putting out an actual agenda, doing policy speeches." All Trump has to do is be as serious as Carson and, as far as Todd is concerned, all will be forgiven!
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Is that a media bully or someone who, you know, doesn't --
TODD: We all have a responsibility here I think to say, you know, has he earned his way on this stage? I mean, again, we're four years removed from the ridiculous spectacle of birtherism.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Chuck Todd. Ben Carson is at the top of the polls. I don't hear you, like, you know --- wearing sack cloth and ashes about Ben Carson.
TODD: The guy is legitimately trying to run for president. I think he's got -- putting out an actual agenda, doing policy speeches. Look, if this is what Trump does and he spends the next three months going after --
SCARBOROUGH: Wait. Wait. Ben Carson keeps comparing America to Nazi Germany, Chuck.
TODD: And I think it's something that --
SCARBOROUGH: I think your outrage is a bit focused on Donald Trump.
TODD: Well, look, I don't want to see the Republican primary race or any presidential race turn into a three-ring circus and us, you know, sitting there going isn't this great? And look at the shiny metal objects. It's not fair to what is the strongest Republican party presidential field in 36 years.
I've been to Ben Carson's campaign site. I've looked at "Ben on the Issues." Here's Carson's entire tax proposal, as presented on his site:
The American People Deserve a Better Tax CodeWow -- "We need a fairer, simpler, and more equitable tax system"! That's ... profound and well thought out! I can see why Chuck Todd is impressed!
The current tax code now exceeds 74,000 pages in length. That is an abomination.
It is too long, too complex, too burdensome, and too riddled with tax shelters and loopholes that benefit only a few at the direct expense of the many.
We need wholesale tax reform.
And, we won’t get that from career politicians in Washington. They’re too deeply vested in the current system to deliver the kind of bold, fresh, new reforms that the American people are demanding.
We need a fairer, simpler, and more equitable tax system. Our tax form should be able to be completed in less than 15 minutes. This will enable us to end the IRS as we know it.
Now, let's go Carson on Russia:
Russia and Lessons Learned"Grave and serious consequences when Russia engages in naked aggression"! Thoughtful! Complex! Yes, Chuck, Carson is really a serious political thinker!
Vladimir Putin’s Russia has become dangerously belligerent. It is actively destabilizing Ukraine, endangering Europe in the process and continuing to fuel destabilization in the Middle East. This newfound aggressiveness is a rising threat to the peace and security of the American people.
The United States must be resolute in the face of these Russian transgressions. We must lead our allies, both NATO and non-NATO alike, from a position of strength.
History has painfully taught us that letting dictators run amok and hoping for the best fails.
President Putin must come to learn that there will be grave and serious consequences when Russia engages in naked aggression against other sovereign nations and free peoples. All options should remain on the table when dealing with international bullies such as President Putin.
See my point? All Trump has to do is fake seriousness by somberly uttering platitudinous nonsense of this sort, and Beltway journalists will instantly start cranking out "Taking Trump Seriously" think pieces and asking aloud, "Have we been underestimating Trump the way we underestimated Ronald Reagan?"
Of course, Trump is highly unlikely to do anything like this -- really, what's the point when he's leading in the polls without making an effort?
Eventually, I suppose, the MSM (and GOP Establishment) might bail on Jeb Dukakis in favor of a Daddy who combines a patina of seriousness with, as the Politico story puts it, "passion." Maybe (now that Chris Christie has clearly passed his sell-by date) it'll be John Kasich -- hey, he did go from nowhere to qualifying for the Fox debate, and he does have both a long political career and, we're told, an anger management problem. Perhaps if he pops off a few times on the trail he'll be called "the serious Trump," and it'll be a compliment.
(Chuck Todd link via Bob Schooley.)