Palin and Trump: Celebrities or serious politicians?

Richard Carter | 8/24/2011, 3:38 p.m.
"They're like an advertising firm. They manufacture rousing affirmatives..."-Spencer Tracy, "Keeper of the Flame" (1943)...
Colony Records was my place for original Black R&B

Yet, like charismatic, savvy and smart Herman Cain, the plain-speaking Trump has never held public office. While nobody doubts his business smarts and success, especially in New York, his egomaniac persona and know-it-all rich boy attitude turns off many.

In addition, Trump's history is replete with public and personal negatives. Why did he jettison his Democratic Party leanings for the GOP? Why did he say "motherf-" several times during a recent, high-profile speech? Why did he use the term "the Blacks" when referring to African-Americans? And what's up with his three marriages?

And do his brazen threats to China and Iran and vicious put-downs of Obama qualify him for serious consideration as a presidential candidate? I think not. Indeed, such issues trump curve balls Trump has pitched at Obama, such as producing a birth certificate for where he was born and his need for affirmative action to get into Columbia and Harvard.

And there's no way Black people in New York will forget how Trump insinuated himself in the Central Park Jogger rape case in 1989. I was with the New York Daily News at the time and wrote often about the assault on the white jogger, Trisha Meili.

In my editorials and on "Showdown"-the national TV show on CNBC I co-hosted with the late Morton Downey Jr.-I pounced on Trump for his full-page ads in the city's white newspapers calling for the death penalty for five accused Black and Latino teens. Although innocent, each was convicted and served eight to 13 years in prison. They were vindicated in 2002 when the real rapist confessed and are now suing the city for $250 million.

Trump has yet to apologize for these racially tinged ads. Such nonsense-as well as his many goofball statements-proves he is rich and dangerous, but not very smart.

Yet, it would be foolish for anyone-Black, white, Democrat, Republican, private citizen, elected official or member of the news media-to underestimate Palin or Trump. Like 'em or not, they've got a lot going for them. Think about it.

Finally, can either become a viable nominee for president? Possibly, but not likely. Could either be elected president? Probably not. But like the wise man once said, never say never. And that's the name of that Palin-Trump tune.