If you think presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is the last loudmouthed reality-TV billionaire who’ll set his sights on the White House, think again. Mark Cuban played the president in Sharknado 3. And now a group of anti-Trump Republicans want him to launch an independent bid for the presidency and take what he learned in Syfy’s low-budget faux Oval Office to Washington, D.C. As Cuban told the Post, his admirers see him as the perfect antidote to Trump because of his own “bluster and volume, combined with substance and the ability to connect with voters on a more personal basis.”
Cuban insisted a run was not in the cards. Not this year at least. But his demurral — “I don’t see it happening. There isn’t enough time” — is far from categorical, however, and it hints at presidential ambitions somewhere down the line. Another sign of Cuban’s interest: His billionaire investor buddy (and Shark Tank semi-regular) Chris Sacca has also been pushing Cuban for president. “The minute you’re coined a billionaire in this country, everyone just takes everything you say as gospel,” the cowboy-shirt-clad venture capitalist said told Colin Cowherd last month. “You can say no wrong. And that’s why we see Trump skating in. He says asinine things and everyone says, ‘Well, he’s a successful business guy.’ Cuban has all of that, but is not an idiot.”
This is the post-Trump effect: Suddenly, political operatives see reality-TV blowhards as potential presidential candidates. This theory misses a few key points about Trump. For starters, his success in the GOP primary has been built on crude appeals to white nationalist politics. Cuban is also a rich guy who can on occasion talk like an eighth-grade bully, but is he ready to build a wall along the Mexican border? Without that type of promise, Cuban might not be as successful as Sacca thinks.
Of course, Cuban also fits into another recent pop-cultural trend: the search for the first Silicon Valley president. Former Politico CEO Jim VandeHei raised eyebrows from Sand Hill Road to Capitol Hill last month with his Wall Street Journal op-ed calling for Mark Zuckerberg to head up a disruptive new party, the Innovation Party. As it happens, the Facebook chairman won’t reach the requisite age, 35, for three more years. Maybe 2016 is Cuban’s moment after all.