Donald Trump is an enigma. Despite a campaign that seems to be designed to offend and insult everyone who isn't white, male, and super wealthy, the GOP candidate is enjoying a comfortable lead in the polls heading into the first GOP debate Thursday. Each time Trump hurls some new, unbelievable insult at a minority group (or an innocent bystander), it seems like it's another sign the billionaire's candidacy is on the ropes, a distraction that has finally lost steam. But somehow, The Donald's poll numbers have continued to rally, and we're left to wonder what that says about American voters. At least, that's the question The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg asked recently on Twitter: Are there Donald Trumps in other countries? Or is the man uniquely ours?
In a recent analysis for The Washington Post, reporter Adam Taylor pointed out how Trump's candidacy combines the three nastiest currents in politics: the marathon primary season, the role of wealth in modern politics, and the public's fascination with radical celebrities. That combination could help explain why the latest polls show Trump doubles Jeb Bush's percentage of support (20 percent to 10 percent), even though Trump has never held political office and Bush is the former governor of a swing state (with two former presidents in his family tree).
Still, other countries have had to deal with the mysterious allure of super rich, super obnoxious men who dominate political headlines. Here are three public figures who are the closest thing to being "Donald Trump" in their countries.
Russian Politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky
There are a couple of reasons to consider Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of Russia's liberal party, on the list of other Trumps. In 1994, The New York Times said Zhirinovsky can be "racist, cruel, [and] endlessly strident," which sounds an awful like the Russian counterpart to Trump. Then, there's that time in 2003 Zhirinovsky got in a fistfight with a candidate from the opposing party following a televised debate.
Australian Billionaire Clive Palmer
Clive Palmer's headlines should sound familiar to American readers. Over the years, the mining tycoon (and newly-elected member of Australia's Parliament) has announced plans to open his own version of Jurassic Park and launch a $500 million replica of the Titanic. He's also famous for arguing with reporters or simply walking out of interviews. Here's a clip of Palmer sounding remarkably similar to Trump in a heated exchange with an Australian reporter.
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
Finally, Silvio Berlusconi, former prime minister of Italy, was the most-tweeted response to Goldberg's search for other Trumps. Like Trump, Berlusconi built a business empire that helped propel him into the political sphere. Also like Trump, the former prime minister was known for being quite blunt and making off-the-wall comments. For example, he once called German Chancellor Angela Merkel an "unf*ckable lard-arse." This mash-up of some of Berlusconi's most memorable moments will make your day.
So, the bad news for Trump is that he actually isn't all that unique. Plenty of other countries have had to contend with uber-wealthy personalities interested in amassing headlines, political influence, or both. Some of them even managed to get elected to public office. But perhaps the best answer to whether Trump is really one-of-a-kind came from David Rothkoph, CEO and editor of Foreign Policy Group. In a tweeted response to Goldberg's question, Rothkoph pointed out the simplest tipoff that other countries must have their own Trumps to deal with.