Donald Trump -- yes, the legendary The Donald -- is tied for second in polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire in his much-derided bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He's also running second to Jeb Bush nationally in a CNN-ORC poll.
"I am a person of faith," declared the wily campaign strategist Paul Begala, "and The Donald's entry into this race can only be attributed to the fact that the good Lord is a Democrat with a sense of humor."
Significant numbers of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire and elsewhere don't appear to realize that Mr. Trump is a blowhard self-promoting billionaire who believes that Mexicans crossing into the United States "are bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists." Most of them, of course, are no such thing. They're motivated the same way his grandfather, Friedrich Drumph, was when he and his wife emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1885, looking for a better, happier life. Mr. Trump's comments about Mexicans caused such outrage among Latinos and others that many of his corporate partners dumped him.
His connections to world of golfing, though, seem to be standing firm. He owns 18 golf courses worldwide, including Turnberry in Scotland, site of the legendary "duel in the sun" in the British Open in 1977, when Tom Watson edged Jack Nicklaus by a single stroke. It is now called -- what else? -- Trump Turnberry.
His golf courses, he told John Barton in Golf Digest last year, represent a small percentage of his business ventures. "You know," he told Golf Digest, "I own buildings. I'm a builder. Nobody can build like I can. Nobody.
"I'm huge," he said.
For years, golf, which was born in Scotland centuries ago on primitive courses open to everyone, has been battling the notion that these days only the rich can take four hours on Saturday afternoons to hack their way around 18 holes. Mr. Trump thinks that's just fine. "Let golf be elitist," he told Golf Digest. "I feel golf should be an aspirational game. People should come to golf, golf shouldn't come to them." In other words, you can begin playing the game after you've made your first million or two.
Those are the people he wants to welcome at his luxury golf courses, all of which, he told Golf Digest, are simply great. Why, he said, his Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey, near Philadelphia, is as good as its neighbor, Pine Valley, "if not better." Pine Valley, of course, is often rated as the best golf course in the United States (I can't argue with that. I played the course years ago and found it unbearably difficult). Golf Digest rates Mr. Trump's course as the 18th-best course in New Jersey. The course, he said, is sold out. Golf Digest called the pro shop and discovered they could tee off the very next day.
"You're always selling," Golf Digest told Mr. Trump, in this amazingly revealing interview, "always promoting yourself."
"You know," he replied, "I do great work, and I know people that do great work and they're not acknowledged. Frank Sinatra was a good friend of mine, and I know people that sing better than Frank Sinatra, but nobody knows who they are. With me, they know who I am. So I believe you can do great things, but if people don't know about it, what difference does it make?"
James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.