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editorial

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares “You're fired!” at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, last month.Dominick Reuter/Reuters

What just happened to the American Dream?

Think of all those poor children who've been told that if they worked hard and believed in themselves they could become billionaires and some day run for president.

And then Donald Trump opens his mouth and the happy dream is shattered.

What is the meaning of The Donald? Simple: His full-time job is to make noise. The outrage he generated by denouncing Mexicans while announcing his plan to run for president serves his vanity project all too well.

This is a man who believes that one-third of his net worth is attached to his brand and to the licensing fees that flow to it from your local Trump Tower. His entire business is drawing attention to himself by whatever means possible.

In a field of hard-to-distinguish Republican candidates, his poll numbers will rise on name-recognition alone. He will then gain entry to TV debates, where he can say the first offensive thing that comes into his head and ascend to another level of stardom.

People who don't understand Donald Trump think he's undermining himself by going too far in the going-too-far business. What part of the Trump brand don't they get?

Maybe he didn't set out to sabotage his interest in the Miss Universe pageant or jeopardize his Apprentice franchise by alienating TV networks that worry about guilt by association. But like the savvy businessman he plays on television, Mr. Trump knows how to capitalize on his trademark insults and boost his campaign of self-aggrandizement by posing as the victimized truth-teller. Americans love an underdog, especially when he's a billionaire.

Somebody will buy this nonsense, because that too is the American way – while you still need a majority of votes to be elected president, you can do quite nicely as a fringe candidate who sees fame as a means to money.

Where will it end? Mr. Trump gets richer as his speech becomes more unfiltered, so sadly we must expect more of the same. But we should also marvel at an economic system where a few derogatory remarks uttered on one side of the globe can generate towering hotels and executive golf courses on the other. Celebrity is a dangerous delusion, and a highly lucrative one.