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Jim Rutenberg splashes cold water on the Trumpmania sweeping the land:


Why, it was roughly four years ago when one former Senator - and network television actor -- Fred Thompson of Tennessee was supposedly gaining steam as a front-runner alongside Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York. A Quinnipiac University national poll had Mayor Giuliani leading with 27 percent and Mr Thompson tied with Senator John McCain of Arizona at 15 percent. Of course, neither candidate got too far, as Senator John McCain of Arizona later cinched the nomination after actual voting began. 

Remember all the talk in the 2004 race about how retired General Wesley Clark was taking the field of Democratic presidential contenders by storm? A Newsweek poll in September of 2003 named him the front runner, just ahead of former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut and, in fourth place, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Then you also must remember that he had his stumbles as a candidate and did not make it past the February primaries in Tennessee and Virginia. 

Several years before, another former general, Colin Powell, was all the rage as a presidential prospect. In September of 1995 Newsweek reported that it had a poll showing he would defeat President Clinton by 10 points if he ran as a Republican the following year.

Besides a conscious decision to post less about politics, this is one of the reasons I've avoided the Trump story. Maybe he'll be a serious candidate, maybe he won't. (My money's on "won't.") But I don't think we know right now. More importantly, I don't think polls showing Trump as the front-runner mean much in terms of the end-game. 

I think the belief among a large swath of Republicans that Obama wasn't born in this country--a belief which Trump has tapped into--is much more significant.


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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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