So Donald Trump has decided he won't be available to drive the pace car at 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. In a statement released Thursday, Trump said, "I very much appreciate the honor, but time and business constraints make my appearance there...impossible to fulfill. I look forward to watching the race from New York."
The presidential candidate, serial monogamist, reality TV show host, and obnoxious brazillionaire has apparently decided that leading the parade at what is still the largest one-day sporting event in the world is not worth his time?
Don't believe it. Trump was fired.
The backlash against Trump started to grow as soon as the choice was announced--before he went into "politics." Lots of people don't like Trump. But there was some sentiment in Indianapolis that, this being the race's 100th anniversary, someone connected with the history and tradition of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing should drive the pace car.
But we would have gotten over that. Lots of celebrities have driven the pace car; the last two pace car drivers were Robin Roberts and Josh Duhamel.
The big problem was Trump's racist attacks on President Obama--the Birther crap and the suggestion that perhaps Obama didn't deserve to get into an Ivy League school. The folks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway simply couldn't defend him anymore. The phone calls, the tweeting, the huge protest on Facebook--all of it got to be too much.
Good for us. We're a pretty conservative town in a very conservative state. But it's nice to see that we'll shout down racism and asshattery when we see it.
The real problem, though, is that this sort of crossover celebrity is becoming pervasive. Yesterday I listened to the Slate Culture Gabfest--for my money, the most entertaining pop culture podcast out there--and their story on the comedy stylings of Brian Williams. Is Brian Williams a comedian or a news anchor? How about Jon Stewart? Is Walter Cronkite spinning in his grave?
We're living in a time in which there's very little separation between news and entertainment and sports and politics and business. Crossing over is not only easy--it's almost necessary to gain broad appeal. The nightly news business is dying, so Brian Williams becomes a clown to pump up the ratings. Or to make opportunity for himself. Whatever.
Is it just me, or does this bother anybody else? Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee work for Fox News? Isn't that unseemly? Do we really have to depend on John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Maher for incisive political commentary? I have nothing against comedians. I just think it's sad that we're so driven by this cult of personality that they're our most trusted resources for liberal opinion.
It's all a mess.
In a different time, Pat Paulsen, crony of the Smothers Brothers, ran for president. Donald Trump is no Pat Paulsen, and his candidacy is not funny--not "ha-ha funny," anyway. How about if all of us around the nation get together and do what Indianapolis did? Let's tell The Donald there's another race we'd like for him to watch from New York. We have plenty of problems in this nation. We don't need this sort of distraction anymore.
Oh--and the day after The Donald was fired, President Obama is visiting Indianapolis. Coincidence?