If you had any doubts that this primary season is unlike any we’ve ever seen, this latest development, “Presidential Candidate Apprentice,” should clinch it for you. There may be an upside: The crass conflation of civics and entertainment could engage more of the electorate.
The downside, of course, is that choosing the leader of this nation is a pretty serious matter. To relegate any part of the process to a self-inflated showman and attention-seeker is tantamount to admitting that that if America declines to the status of second-rate power, it will be because its people willingly abrogated their responsibility to govern themselves responsibly.
Should the Trumpapalooza turn out to be the circus everyone is predicting, then the craven candidates who slithered onto his stage, fearing retribution if they did not show, will be diminished by the event. The big beneficiary could be Jon Huntsman, who has refused to appear.
Before the White House and Obama reelection campaign staff get sore palms from doing high-fives, they might want to temper their jubilation with the thought of a Huntsman bump. His stalwart display of independence could cause embarrassed and disgusted voters to give him another look.
And Huntsman, as I’ve said before, is the one candidate who really has a chance of beating Obama. Those with the biggest sway in the Republican primaries simply haven’t awakened to it yet.