Donald Trump out of presidential race. Has he fired himself?

Of course, Donald Trump was never actually president. But for a few weeks this spring, it almost felt like it – until reality intervened. Oh, the irony.

Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun/REUTERS/file
Donald Trump looked presidential here, speaking to a group of Republican organizations at the Treasure Island hotel and casino in Las Vegas on April 28. But it was all downhill from there. /

Donald Trump isn’t going to run for president. He announced that Monday via a statement noting, among other things, that he thinks he could have won (what, you thought he’d admit that he had little chance?) and that his real passion is for business, not politics.

We’re shocked, shocked. All that time we spent defending him against people who said it was only a publicity stunt – wasted. That’s a good half-hour down the drain.

And then the Donald goes and fires himself.

Yes, technically he would have to hold the position – in this case president – for his withdrawal to count as a self-removal. But we’d argue that Mr. Trump’s brief springtime fling with the Oval Office went through the same story arc, the same glory and heartache, of an actual modern presidency.

It began with a burst of interest in a fresh new personality. OK, an old familiar personality in the fresh new context of politics. If you look at searching trends in Google (go to Google Trends, duh), you see that the minute he started talking about President Obama’s birth certificate in mid-March interest in Trump zoomed upwards, even past interest in Sarah Palin.

That issue – however bizarre and insinuating his claims – was Trump’s entree into the US political conversation. His poll numbers shot up like a comb-over in a stiff breeze. For a while he was tied, or even ahead, in some polls of GOP contenders. He was the frontrunner. It was his honeymoon with the voters – something newly elected US presidents experience, too.

We’ve argued in the past that one reason GOP voters liked him was that he acted as if he’d already won. He was the boss – laying out ways to deal with China (25 percent tariff on all Chinese goods!), Iraq (seize their oil fields!) and gasoline prices (yell at Saudi Arabia!).

He was presidential, though not president. (And yes, we know his policy solutions were, um, things that perhaps needed to be explored in greater depth prior to implementation. We’re talking about image here, not substance.)

Then there was the day President Obama released his long-form birth certificate. Trump was beside himself. It was the height of his faux presidency.

But that was it. As happens in many actual presidencies, the parallel-universe administration of the not-yet-elected Trump sagged as voters tired of his presence and events intervened. Which events always do.

In East Coast markets on May 1, Mr. Obama broke into Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” to announce that Osama bin Laden had been killed by US forces. Suddenly, the actual US president seemed so much more real than the reality show host/developer who was acting as if he were president. Interest in Trump and his polls dropped, if not like a stone, then like a substance with a bit less mass. Wood, maybe, or heavy plastic.

Faced with this situation, Trump made the inevitable decision: He would not run for a second term as a possible pre-primary GOP nominee favorite. His work here was done.

“I am not ready to leave the private sector,” his Monday statement concluded.

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