Let's say you have $5 million lying around, money you're willing to let go in support of a good cause. I wonder what you could do with it?
Now, if you're most people, watching the wrenching pain suffered by the victims of Hurricane Sandy, you'd just hand over the $5 million to the Red Cross or other groups equipped to get help to the needy most efficiently (and yes, Mitt Romney, the Red Cross needs money, not jars of peanut butter). You might want to make a more targeted donation—how about to the hospital where nurses walked down nine flights of stairs, carrying newborns and manually operating life-saving machinery to get the babies to safety? I'd be tempted to just give the whole amount to Staten Islander Glenda Moore, who desperately tried to save her 2- and 4-year old sons when the storm hit, only to have them wrest from her arms and carried off into the deadly waters. The boys' bodies were found after the storm, and one can't imagine how Moore can ever recovery from the heartbreak of losing her two boys.
That's if you're a normal person, someone to whom basic decency and compassion for your fellow man and woman trumps all politics and other diversions. Unless, of course, your name actually is "Trump," in which case your ego and pathetic desire to claim relevance is more important than anyone else's more basic needs.
Donald Trump has already embarrassed himself in this campaign, challenging President Barack Obama's citizenship and, sadly, succeeding in getting the White House to release the president's long-form birth certificate. Trump took that to mean his uninformed and bigoted opinion actually mattered. In fact, it was just a sad commentary on what must be done to assuage absurd conspiracy theories in our Era of (Mis)Information.
So Trump decided to up the ante, issuing a challenge to the president: If Obama would release all his college records and applications, Trump would contribute $5 million to the charity of the president's choice. This is even worse than the implied financial transaction of billionaires funding super PAC ads, since it isn't even about trying to use big money to influence the outcome of an election. It's trying to use big money to build one's own already bursting-at-the-seams ego. Trump issued a deadline of 5 p.m. on Halloween, then desperately extended the deadline until noon the next day. Obama—who spent the week touring devastated areas of New Jersey and working with a GOP governor to help the victims—didn't bite.
It's unlikely this ridiculous display will convince those people who see Obama as "other," and certainly won't satisfy Trump, who has a pathological desire to be the center of attention. Trump could find some temporary relevance and just donate the $5 million to the storm victims. But that, unfortunately, wouldn't save Trump from himself. He's looking for a role in society, and he's found one: buffoon.