The Magnanimous Showman

The Magnanimous Showman

One thing I can concede about Donald Trump is that he is probably the world’s greatest living expert at creating and garnering attention.  He can’t help it, (to borrow a tag line from recent GEICO commercials) it’s what he does.

Look at how he campaigned.  There wasn’t a Sunday morning when Donald Trump was not a guest on, or phoned into, or tweeted, or was a major topic of discussion on Face the Nation or Meet the Press or on PBS Newshour’s Friday Shields & Brooks segment, and many other network shows.  He would refuse to disavow the KKK, or American Nazi organizations, why?  So people would talk about him and ignore his opponent.

He “trumped” up ridiculous allegations against the Gold Star family of a Muslim American military hero who gave his life for his country.  There was not one main stream media outlet that wasn’t covering every word Trump said as he not only defended his false accusation (and don’t kid yourself, he knew it was false), but he doubled-down on it.  He made several outrageous statements that were vilified by Republicans and Democrats.  Everyone was talking about how foolish he was to attack a flag-wrapped target.  His reaction?  Double-down.

Why?

Donald Trump knows what the great 19th Century showman and quintessential self-promoter, P.T. Barnum knew, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.”  Before long, the entire election process was centered on Donald Trump.  People who normally didn’t appreciate Presidential Campaign debates because they pre-empted their favorite shows tuned in to three debates that he allegedly lost, just to see and hear his latest insultingly outrageous behavior and claims.  The Donald’s face under his red hat was constantly front and center in the media, the same media he charged was favoring his opponent.  Masterful, really.

Hillary Clinton never figured him out. Her strategy was to just let him self-implode with his never-ending insults, tweets, rude behavior, and alienation of major voting blocks.  In effect, her campaign centered on him, just as he’d hoped.  By responding to or highlighting his antics, she gave him more air time.  She framed and conveyed her positions on issues always in contrast to his points of view.  She cast the spotlight on Trump, and he performed a song and dance that will be marveled at for as long as America’s history matters.

Now that he’s been elected, don’t expect him to change.  Like I noted earlier, “it’s what he does.”

I played into his hands a few days ago when I blogged Donald Trump: Part-time President of the United States in response to his announcement that he saw no conflict of interest in continuing to run his business empire while President.  I should have known.  His position was outlandish and in direct conflict with history and the spirit of our Democracy.  Yesterday, he said he will make an announcement in the coming days that he has decided not to run The Trump Organization while President but will, instead, focus all of his attention on governing the U.S.A.

Doggone it.  He did it again.  I am not aware that any prior President-elect ever made an issue in his transition process (or any other time) about keeping his day job.  Outrageous news.  Okay, now he has decided that the Presidency will require his full attention (really?) and so he makes an announcement that he will be making a future announcement that he has decided not to keep his day job while in office.

He is taking three bites of an apple that never existed before.  Outrageous statement, announcement of a future announcement, and the real announcement that he’s changed his mind.  And the media?  Right with him every step of the way.  Masterful.

He was going to prosecute Hillary Clinton.  He changed his mind, she’s suffered enough. How magnanimous.  He was going to keep his day job.  He changed his mind, the nation needs him.  How magnanimous.

The pattern is clear.  It is going to be an interesting and likely very confusing four years.  That’s just what he craves.  Always keep them guessing and off balance.  Be unpredictable, own the spotlight.

Donald Trump’s single greatest fear is that he will be ignored.

He can relax, there is very little chance of that.

Donald Trump: Part-time President of the United States

Donald Trump:  Part-time President of the United States

Who but Donald Trump would have the ego-centric audacity to unilaterally decide that the Presidency of the United States should be a part-time job?  Now that he’s been elected he has informed those he supposedly serves, the American public, that he doesn’t expect to give up his day job while in office.

Really?

Certainly, it cannot take a brilliant, energized, diplomatic dynamo like Trump much time and effort to attend to world crises both known and emerging – to maintain foreign relations around the globe – to deal with military policy  and preparedness as Commander in Chief – to wipe out ISIS and secure our borders – to prepare effective economic, educational, social, health care and (risking an oxymoron) intelligence strategies – to (snicker) fulfill his campaign promises – and to take care of all the other business entrusted to him by the American people when he was elected.   Undoubtedly, he will be able to handle all that with one hand tied behind his back and standing on one foot while he continues to run his insignificant family fruit stand.  Heck, he’ll probably have have ample free time to improve his golf game three or four days a week at one of his many golf clubs.

Don’t worry about it.  We’re in good hands.

Donald says he sees “no conflict of interest” in running the country and his company at the same time.  I don’t know about you, but I am so relieved to know that he doesn’t see any conflict of interest there.  That must mean there is no chance that anything like the Teapot Dome scandal during Warren G. Harding’s crooked Presidency might happen.  I was afraid that might be a cause for concern, but evidently the Donald is cool with it.

Actually, it’s easy to understand why he sees no conflict of interest because, given his eyesight, it is true.  He doesn’t want to see any conflict of interest, so by Royal Proclamation there simply isn’t any.  Its absence suits his purposes at the moment, so it must be true… at the moment.  End of story.

Always Remember:

There is one, and only one, interest that drives every single thing that Donald Trump does.  It’s called self-interest, and he has made that an art form.  The sooner we all recognize this about the man front and center, the better we will understand what he is likely to do in a given situation.  We may despise his “logic,” but we elected it.  It isn’t new.  It’s been plainly there throughout his entire miserable celebrity career.  Reality is what he says it is.  Otherwise you’re fired!

Truthfully, the U.S. Presidency is much more than just a part-time job (with benefits) to him.  He covets the opportunity to operate both the country and his company in tandem in terms of his self-interest.  Rather than a conflict of interest, it’s a veritable accelerant of self- interest.  Think of how much money and power he will be able to accrue in The Trump Organization when he can negotiate business deals while carrying the ability to annihilate the folks on the other side of the table.  Who knows, he might even get rich.

And what an opportunity to expand Trump Air!

Who’s Fooling Who?

Donald Trump is not stupid, he just assumes the rest of us are.  Perhaps he’s right.  Where are the righteously loud and indignant objections to the notion that Donald Trump would even think about conducting his commercial empire as usual while wielding the power of the Presidency of the United States?  Let’s trust Trump to be honest and forthright in all his business dealings and in all his obligations to the American people. (It’s called turning over a new leaf.)  Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s trust Putin to do that too.  He’s at least as trustworthy as the Donald.

The Trump Organization Dictionary (4,276th Edition):                                                         promise  (prom-iss) N. or V.  Noun. A statement or position that is convenient to make or espouse at the moment, but which the Donald retains the right to reverse or revise at his discretion.  Verb. To make a statement or take a position that is convenient to make or take at the moment, but which the Donald reserves the right to recant or disavow whenever necessary.

Hail to the Cheer-Leader-in-Chief

How did the man who grabs cute felines get elected as President of the United States?  He counted on voters turning a blind eye to the history and nature of the parasite, totally discounting the objectionable so long as he was cheer-leader-in-chief for outlandish positions they longed to hear.

Now he’s elected, don’t hold your breath.

Many are expecting him to “empty the swamp.” I am here to tell you folks, Donald Trump does not want to empty the swamp; he wants to rule it.

I seriously fear that somewhere along the line Trump is going to try to tamper with the impeachment statutes of this land to somehow make himself immune to them.  When he quietly or publicly tries to alter the last possible threat to his absolute rule, let’s try to see what’s right in front of us and deny him the opportunity.

Otherwise we will continue to get what we deserve.

 

 

©2016, James C. Ash

 

 

A User’s Guide to Donald Trump

A User’s Guide to Donald Trump

The 45th President of the United States will be Donald Trump, the first bona-fide modern celebrity elected to lead the most powerful country in the world.  He will also be the first president never to have held an elected public office before.  Both improbable and thereby impressive feats.

His greatest attribute in his election was his total lack of political experience.  For ample reason, he stood out from the crowd as the maverick, the new sheriff in town, the guy who was free “to tell it like it is.”  Americans, fed up with a purposely gridlocked government, craved change and he was the only candidate positioned to deliver it. The baggage he will bring into the White House in January will include no political debts.

He is truly and refreshingly neither a real Republican nor a Democrat, though he has called himself both.  He alone is the ultimate ”outsider” in a place where the money and power in politics come first, and the nation’s well-being is a distant second.

But his great asset – being a non-politician –  could also become the nation’s Achilles Heel. Of all the political stages in the world, the White House is the worst place to make a bluster blunder. Trump’s nature is bluster, so he is likely to make several.

His honeymoon may be short lived. The back room political powers and the monied interests that fuel them have not left our nation’s capital. Donald Trump has promised to “empty the swamp” single-handedly.  If we believe he can and will do it, however, we are naive.  He is far more likely to fall under the influence of the established politicos than they are to accede to his.  When one looks at his transition team rife with lobbyists, one sees the swamp critters already climbing aboard and taking premium seats on his boat.

Donald Trump was elected for what he isn’t.  Who he is will lead this country for at least the next four years.  So what do we know about him?

After meeting with the President-elect for 90 minutes just days after the election, President Obama diplomatically observed that Donald Trump has no ideology, but is the consummate pragmatist.  Obama was smiling at the time, but his words carried a serious warning.

History has shown time and again that a man or woman with no ideology who is empowered to lead a nation is dangerously unpredictable.   In fact, Mr. Trump has cultivated a well deserved reputation of unpredictability.  He considers it to be one of his greatest assets.  For a celebrity that makes sense; it’s entertaining and grabs the spotlight.  But as the President, if the Donald lacks dependability his reputation will become America’s as well.

To what degree can anyone count on Donald Trump in any respect?  He’s certainly not the first politician to lie.  But lying appears to come easy to him and is necessary at times to serve the pragmatist. Witness the birther diatribe, claiming President Obama wasn’t born in the US.  Donald held on to that false claim obsessively for as long as it was convenient, despite all proof that he was shouting a lie.  It was only when it was beneficial to him that he recanted the claim based on the same evidence he pragmatically ignored for years.

The discomfort and worry felt by the majority of voters who cast their ballots against Trump comes from a legitimate fear of what extreme and dangerous roads he may lead us down while promising not to.

Here is the key to understanding Trump. When dealing with him, always remember that Donald Trump has never done, and will never do, anything that was or is not intended first and foremost to be to his personal benefit.    He is the poster child of malignant narcissism (See Beware the Malignant Narcissist: April 15, 2016).  It’s not always easy to find “what’s in it for him,” but keep looking lest it is realized when it is too late to matter.

Never upstage him and don’t ever think that you can count on what he says any longer than the time it takes him to say it.

Like all narcissists, Donald Trump values loyalty, if not fealty, above all other qualities in those around him.  The danger is his loyal minions may not include folks with quality diplomatic, or statesman-like experience to draw on when called upon to represent the United States effectively on the national or world stage.  (Witness Rudy Giuliani, whose only qualification to be Secretary of State is that he was involved in security planning for the United Nations Building while Mayor of New York.  That he was even on the list of potential candidates for this hugely important assignment is absurd. But on the Trump loyalty scale, he’s off the charts.)

In the end, no one loves Trump more than Trump.  The reason he is a pragmatist is that when conditions change he can change with them, uninhibited by ethics or conscience, in order to assure his personal benefit.  A look at the crooked road behind him will reveal an astounding number of Americans and others who made the cardinal mistake of depending on Donald Trump to:

  • honor a contract,
  • pay undocumented immigrant workers for the dangerous and off-the-books demolition work he hired them to do
  • keep manufacturing jobs for products with the Trump label in America
  • protect investors’ interests as CEO of the spin off corporation to which he sold his bankrupt casinos
  • create and contribute to a charitable fund in his name and under his roof
  • provide a meaningful and useful education to those who took government loans to pay him their tuition to enroll in Trump University
  • show any sign of ethical restraint in his business conduct
  • refrain from further victimizing those who were victimized by others

In all of these cases it proved pragmatic under Trump’s personal financial interest to:

  • tie his contractual obligations up in the courts and watch his creditors’ legal fees force them to give up, or to
  • withold the meagre payment he owed hapless undocumented workers he knowingly hired, and threaten to report them to Immigration for deportation, or to
  • keep the margins on his products high by avoiding expensive American labor, or to
  • sell off his failing casino businesses to investors as hidden gems and then pay himself $44 million as CEO of the investors’ new company, which he tanked (as he knew he would) or to,
  • fail to donate any of his own money to the Trump Charity fund but to use the contributions of others to buy an immense portrait of himself, or to
  • bilk thousands of Americans, many poor and looking to better themselves, out of their government loaned tuitions in return for a two-bit real estate seminar. The hayena laughed all the way to the bank at how easily he grabbed their loan money while dashing their hopes. When he agreed to pay a $25 million settlement of that case he tweeted he paid it only because his presidental responsibilities now prohibit his agressive defense of the case, which “he would have won.” (No ethical apology, just a statement to satisfy his enormous ego with the notion he would have won, despite having been caught red handed), or to
  • exploit an opportunity to cash in on more Federal tax payer (a category he does not inhabit) funds in 9/11 rehabilitation government aid to small businesses because it was “smart” to funnel funds away from 9/11 victims.

We have to ask, what are Mr. Trump’s American values that can be depended on as he “Makes America Great Again?” As President Obama pointed out, it is truly hard to tell.  He’s a pragmatist.  “It depends.”

Donald Trump told  61,201,031 American voters exactly what they wanted to hear.  Despite whatever he may have espoused to the contrary before, he now firmly believed all they did. Drain the swamp, build the wall, provide relief for the working lower and middle classes, lower their taxes, prosecute Hillary Clinton, remove support for the fallacy of climate change, take big money out of politics, deport 11 million illegal aliens, strengthen our borders, destroy ISIS and “Radical Islam” etc., etc.  Now that the election is over, he has begun backing out of several of these “promises,” calling them just “campaign talk,”  a.k.a., the pragmatic lies it took to get him elected.

For the sake of the country and the world, let’s hope that his pragmatic needs do not lead to the destruction of America’s role and reputation in the delicate global balance of power, because he’s now playing in a different game than he’s ever played before.  The stakes are higher and it is now America’s chips that he has to manage. The survival of the greatest nation the world has ever known is in the balance.

When crises explode, and they will, we better hope he can find solutions in the mirror, because that is the only place he is likely to look.

 

 

©2016  James C. Ash