Saying that "business is [his] greatest passion" and that he is "not ready to leave the private sector," Donald Trump announced today that he would not run for president in 2012.
Most likely, what he's not ready to leave is "The Apprentice," which NBC is paying him millions to host. Sources said that Trump was running out of time to decide whether he would host the show for another season, and that in recent days he has been involved in frequent phone calls with NBC executives trying to convince him to return. Supposedly, the network has sponsors lined up for the next three years provided that The Donald is there to fire people.
One could be forgiven for thinking that the whole Trump for President thing was a negotiating tactic, part of a plan to make NBC think he might just be crazy enough to leave the show and run for office. If so, this was the right time to make a decision, given that Trump's poll numbers have been plummeting recently to as little as eight percent in some polls.
But you wouldn't know that from Trump's official statement, in which he claimed it was a difficult decision "especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country." Even if that were true, given the current state of that field, saying you are ranked at the top of it is a little like saying Moe is the smartest Stooge. True, as far as it goes. (Trump himself appeared to diss the current group of contenders, saying that he looks forward to supporting the best-qualified candidate, "when this person emerges.")
Moe, at least, didn't seem to care where people were born, which was Trump's signature issue but which is strangely absent from today's statement. He did say that "[i]ssues, including getting tough on China ... were seldom mentioned before I brought them to the forefront of the country's conversation," which could be an allusion to the birth-certificate "issue" except that he says these issues "are now being debated vigorously," and that one isn't. The only other issue he references is "job creation," which he probably does know something about but is still an odd thing to emphasize for someone best known for firing people.
Comedians and legal-humor bloggers across the country were saddened by the announcement, but took some comfort in Trump's comments on his future plans: "I make you this promise," he said, "that I will continue to voice my opinions loudly ...." That, at least, is something we should never have doubted.