As screams of frustration go, it wasn’t anywhere near Howard Dean levels, but it was loud enough to be noticeable nonetheless.
Donald Trump addressed a standing-room-only crowd at the Treasure Island on Saturday, a speech notable not just for its typical Trumpian excesses, but for its pathos.
Trump detailed for the crowd, repeatedly, what he’d accomplished so far in this campaign: 13.3 million votes, more than any other Republican candidate in history. Winning 37 states. Collecting 1,447 delegates, easily surpassing the required 1,237 to win the GOP nomination. Drawing huge TV audiences for debates and making networks millions in advertising dollars. And he defeated a field of 16 other candidates in the process, including some with political pedigrees that stretch back decades.
“We beat Bush. We beat the Bushes,” Trump said.
But don’t worry: Trump’s not doing it for ego. No, he’s doing it for love.
“It’s so easy to do what I’m doing because there’s love,” he told the crowd. “I’m doing it for love. I love this country.”
But now, some of those defeated losers are actually conspiring behind closed doors to deny him, Donald J. Trump, the nomination of the Republican Party for president!
The #NeverTrump movement is back, searching for a way to allow delegates supposedly bound to Trump to free themselves from their Faustian bond and vote for anybody else come convention time.
“It’s all made up by the press, these people right here,” Trump said, pointing to a riser where journalists stood, dutifully covering his remarks. “These are the most dishonest people.”
Indeed: Not a single one of them would later refer to him as a petulant man-child desperately searching for the respect that he’s been unable to buy within the political system, even with his tremendous wealth. But that’s beside the point. Trump knows in his heart that it’s not made up by the press. It’s all too real. Some top Republicans just don’t want him.
That’s probably why he told the crowd that he doesn’t need to run for president, not with his great family, business and personal wealth. But — as he told NBC’s Hallie Jackson in an interview this weekend — he will win with or without the party’s establishment support
At his Las Vegas rally, he told the crowd: “We’re going to beat Hillary? And it would be helpful if the Republicans could help us out,” he said.
But why can’t they just give him the respect he thinks he’s earned? What does he have to do? Raise more money? Beat more challengers? Win the convention? Win the White House?
Just what will it take, America?
Trump knows he’s not respected. President Barack Obama made fun of him at a White House Correspondents Dinner over Trump’s ridiculous embrace of the discredited theory that Obama wasn’t born in the United States. And everybody laughed!
But now? Now he’s played their game, by his own, reality-show rules, and won, fair and square. And yet they still won’t acknowledge him the way they would if the winner was that low-energy Jeb Bush, the would-be boy king Marco Rubio or the obstreperous, ever-creepy Ted Cruz. Those guys could hardly win a state, let alone nearly enough to pass a constitutional amendment!
As the Trump concert thundered on, and the crowd cheered the hits (“build the wall!”), the echo of Trump’s frustration faded a little. But if you knew what to listen for, it was there. A man in a room full of love, desperately seeking the one thing that he seems to be destined to be denied forever: respect.
Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist and co-host of “PoliticsNOW,” airing at 5:30 p.m. Sundays on 8NewsNow. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at 702-387-5276 or SSebelius@reviewjournal.com.