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.
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.