Contrary to popular belief, former Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján have similar styles and much in common.
They are relentless in bombarding the public with commentary on what matters most to them.
It’s money for Luján. Having the biggest campaign treasury is his way of minimizing challengers and crushing competitors. If a dollar is at stake, Luján never worries about being overbearing or redundant in his solicitations.
Trump operates the same way, though at age 74 his fixation is different. Once a reality television personality, Trump is more obsessed than ever about ratings, even though he’s no longer on the air consistently.
Trump’s specialty is using rating points to vilify his critics.
“LeBron James should focus on basketball rather than presiding over the destruction of the NBA, which has just recorded the lowest television RATINGS, by far, in the long and distinguished history of the League,” Trump wrote in a statement last week. “His RACIST rants are divisive, nasty, insulting and demeaning. He may be a great basketball player, but he is doing nothing to bring our country together.”
Comment: Sounds like the pot calling the kettle white. Trump didn’t mind divisive, nasty, insulting and demeaning rants when he made them against Maxine Waters, Megyn Kelly, Don Lemon, Ted Cruz and others. I’d name more names, but the boss likes me to keep my column under 1,000 words.
Trump pays attention to the ratings of all sorts of organizations, friend and foe alike.
“Congratulations to One America News on their great great ratings surge. Also for their great love of the United States of America!” he wrote.
Comment: Trump values the exclamation point as much as the rating point.
He also offered his expertise on how to improve Hollywood’s annual TV show.
“What used to be called The Academy Awards and now is called the ‘Oscars’ — a far less important and elegant name — had the lowest Television Ratings in recorded history, even much lower than last year which set another record low,” Trump wrote in another statement. “If they keep with the current ridiculous formula, it will only get worse — if that’s possible. Go back 15 years, look at the formula they then used, change the name back to THE ACADEMY AWARDS, don’t be so politically correct and boring, and do it right. ALSO, BRING BACK A GREAT HOST.”
Comment: Trump won’t impress the academy with run-on sentences. But his argument for a charismatic host shouldn’t be ignored. Michelle Obama would be an inspired choice.
Luján, the freshman senator from New Mexico, sends out just as many statements as Trump. The difference is every rant from Luján and his handlers is about money.
“Folks, we need to explain something. Between everything that’s going on in Washington and Ben Ray’s work and travel, we have fallen behind on our fundraising goals for the first end-of-quarter deadline. … Instead of pulling Ben Ray away from doing his job to fundraise, we hope to make up this shortfall with your help.”
Comment: Luján’s six-year term began in January. If he sees the need to neglect work in the Senate to raise money for a campaign in 2026, he’s making a strong case for term limits — his own.
Many of Luján’s solicitations for cash are so hokey he should spend some of his campaign war chest on a speechwriter.
“Folks, I’ll be honest. Growing up as a Head Start kid, I never expected to run for Senate,” Luján wrote.
Comment: Since Head Start is for children 5 and younger, it would be an upset if any of them planned to run for the Senate.
In the same solicitation, Luján mixed in a misleading version of his family history.
“My dad was an ironworker and my mom retired from our public schools. Growing up on a small farm in New Mexico, my family didn’t have much but we had each other. … I’m fighting for you because you deserve to have a senator who stands up for you and has your back. Now I’m asking you to have my back, too.”
Comment: Luján neglected to mention that his father was speaker of the state House of Representatives. Dad’s influence with lobbyists and donors was considerable. It enabled Ben Ray, a one-time blackjack dealer who hadn’t graduated from college, to win his first political office, a $90,000-a-year job on the state Public Regulation Commission.
Ben Ray was on his way to a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and then the Senate.
If Trump was born with a golden spoon, Ben Ray had one that was sterling silver.