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29 May 2017 13:29 (South Africa)
Politics

The Apprentice applies for the Biggest Gig

  • Richard Poplak
    HEADSHOT_Rich-Poplak_orange.jpg
    Richard Poplak

    Richard Poplak was born and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. He trained as a filmmaker and fine artist at Montreal’s Concordia University and has produced and directed numerous short films, music videos and commercials. Now a full-time writer, Richard is a senior contributor at South Africa’s leading news site, Daily Maverick, and a frequent contributor to publications all over the world. He is a member of Deca Stories, the international long-form non-fiction collective.

    His first book was the highly acclaimed Ja, No, Man: Growing Up White in Apartheid-Era South Africa (Penguin, 2007); his follow-up was entitled The Sheikh’s Batmobile: In Pursuit of American Pop-Culture in the Muslim World (Soft Skull, 2010). Poplak has also written the experimental journalistic graphic novel Kenk: A Graphic Portrait (Pop Sandbox, 2010). His election coverage from South Africa’s 2014 election, written under the nom de plume Hannibal Elector, was collected as Until Julius Comes: Adventures in the Political Jungle (Tafelberg, 2014).  Ja, No, Man was longlisted for the Alan Paton Non-Fiction prize, shortlisted for the University of Johannesburg Literary Award and voted one of the Top-10 books of 2007 by Now Magazine. Richard has won South Africa’s Media-24 Best Feature Writing Award and a National Magazine Award in Canada.

    Since 2010, Poplak has been travelling across Africa, seeking out the catalysts and characters behind the continent’s 21stcentury metamorphosis. The coming book, co-authored with Kevin Bloom, is called The Shift

  • Politics
trump main

In the steadily growing field of those making a pitch for leadership of the Republican Party in the upcoming US primaries, one name sticks out. No, it’s not Sarah Palin, whose political stock has fallen considerably in the past six months. We’re talking about Donald Trump, real estate mogul, reality TV star, and now, as it turns out, a hardened cynic who is dragging US politics down a few notches. By RICHARD POPLAK.

The famous sweep of hair takes numerous trajectories, and thus becomes a metaphor. It goes up and back over the ears—seems entirely reasonable, at first, what anyone with a Napoleon complex would do with a fading coif. Then it takes an about right turn, covering the pate like a vast, ginger Hawaiian kahuna. It drowns everything else, the hair, and it comes to explain the nascent and very early attempt by Donald Trump—or more simply, The Donald—to become a US politician, and a world statesman.

If that last part chills your blood, have no fear. How different can running the US, and by extension the world, be from running a real estate empire? Surely, keeping the lights on in Trump Towers is more than enough preparation for keeping the lights on in America. Not for Donald municipal administration, or the Senate, or anything else that would resemble training for the Big Gig. The guy’s a billionaire! What more training does he need?

Now, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we need to point out that The Donald is currently “seriously considering running”. Which means he has sort of thrown his hat in the ring and suggested that he’d drop $800 million of his own, hard-earned dough to do so. "I think my whole life has sort of been about finesse when you get right down to it,” The Donald told Fox News. “I mean it's - what running a country is, is to a certain extent we have to bring principle back and we have to also bring common sense back. We have no common sense. And we're losing this country.”

Finesse should get the job done. And there are those that seem to agree. In a recent poll of Republican primary voters, The Donald leads the field with 26%, followed by folksy Mike Huckabee at 17%, and Mitt “The Mormon” Romney at 15%. These early polls are notoriously unreliable, and usually highlight the candidate who has been making the most noise. But the big numbers do support the rumour that Trump will announce his candidacy on the season’s finale of his smash hit show “Celebrity Apprentice” on 22 May.

So far The Donald, who had the opportunity to run as a sane, centralist Republican with $2.7 billion in the bank and name recognition, has decided to appeal to Glenn Beck’s loony acolytes. The Donald doesn’t believe President Barack Obama, “the foreigner”, was born in the US. He is thus the most vocal proponent of the so-called “Birther issue”, the single largest non-entity in a political season filled with entities. He plays to the Tea Party, decrying abortion, gun control and a host of other liberal, namby-pamby issues that, until recently, no one realised he had any problems with. Mitt Romney he has dismissed as a “small business guy. I have a much, much bigger net worth,” insists The Donald. We’ll take him at his word.

This, folks, is the grand mess we like to call representative democracy. The Donald’s candidacy, which is built on a cream puff’s worth of hard right, isolationist, white panic neo-conservative rhetoric, could very well be another in a long line of publicity stunts, a means of enhancing the brand. There is now no possible way that the Republican establishment would embrace Trump. “He was an interesting candidate who had a business background,” Republican fixer Karl Rove, a.k.a. ”Bush's brain” (yep, oxymoron it is) has said. “But his full embrace of the birther issue means he's off out there in the nutty right and is now an inconsequential candidate. I'm shocked,” Rove added. “The idea that President Obama was not born in Hawaii, making that the centrepiece of his campaign means he's now a joke candidate.”

Ah, that’s what makes him a joke candidate! One would’ve thought it was the hair. DM


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Photo: Donald Trump speaks during the 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington February 10, 2011. The CPAC is a project of the American Conservative Union Foundation. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts.

  • Richard Poplak
    HEADSHOT_Rich-Poplak_orange.jpg
    Richard Poplak

    Richard Poplak was born and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. He trained as a filmmaker and fine artist at Montreal’s Concordia University and has produced and directed numerous short films, music videos and commercials. Now a full-time writer, Richard is a senior contributor at South Africa’s leading news site, Daily Maverick, and a frequent contributor to publications all over the world. He is a member of Deca Stories, the international long-form non-fiction collective.

    His first book was the highly acclaimed Ja, No, Man: Growing Up White in Apartheid-Era South Africa (Penguin, 2007); his follow-up was entitled The Sheikh’s Batmobile: In Pursuit of American Pop-Culture in the Muslim World (Soft Skull, 2010). Poplak has also written the experimental journalistic graphic novel Kenk: A Graphic Portrait (Pop Sandbox, 2010). His election coverage from South Africa’s 2014 election, written under the nom de plume Hannibal Elector, was collected as Until Julius Comes: Adventures in the Political Jungle (Tafelberg, 2014).  Ja, No, Man was longlisted for the Alan Paton Non-Fiction prize, shortlisted for the University of Johannesburg Literary Award and voted one of the Top-10 books of 2007 by Now Magazine. Richard has won South Africa’s Media-24 Best Feature Writing Award and a National Magazine Award in Canada.

    Since 2010, Poplak has been travelling across Africa, seeking out the catalysts and characters behind the continent’s 21stcentury metamorphosis. The coming book, co-authored with Kevin Bloom, is called The Shift

  • Politics

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