The American public has never had to deal with anyone like Donald Trump in the White House. Most of us are aware of that. But it’s important to identify the aspects of The Donald that set him apart from all previous 44 Presidents of the United States, with perhaps the exception of Warren G. Harding.
For many years Donald Trump was a member of/financial contributor to the Democratic Party. Why then did he suddenly declare his candidacy for the Presidency in the Republican Party primaries in 2012? First, his motivations for his party affiliations and contributions were, like always, strictly self-serving. They were pragmatic, not ideological. The money he “donated” and his affiliations were intended to be profitable in the long run.
So when he smelled an opportunity that he could never have among the Democrats, it was natural for Trump to change sides. Although he was never interested in running (and losing) against the incumbent Barack Obama in 2012, he was hungry to join the legion of Republicans who sought the presidential nomination. This was an irresistible chance to invent and introduce a new facet of his image, downplaying his amoral, audacious real estate escapades and reckless, amoral, playboy persona. Here he would test fly himself as a potential statesman.
No one took him seriously in 2012; he gathered very few percentage points in the primaries. But that didn’t matter. He wasn’t in it to win it back then. He’d accomplished his objective of planting seeds of quasi-political respectability. He’d shared the stage shoulder-to-shoulder with life-long politicos whose names were, in most cases, lesser known by the general public than his. He wedged his way in and gave his eventual presidential aspirations a precedent.
Over the next four years, he created and burnished his supposed executive leadership credentials with his new popular television show, “The Apprentice.” Sitting on his regal executive throne, he disparaged and humiliated young business school graduates with his denegrations of their performances in difficult assignments that ostensibly tested their chops. His image took on a hard-nosed, take-no-prisoners attitude and a demi-god-like impatience with the fools he had to tolerate. As intended, he presented himself as a tough boss who demanded results. Contrary to his 2012 primary showing, his television ratings were astounding. Not satisfied with besting unknown job applicants, he then gathered a bunch of celebrities whose fading stardoms were in dire need of any kind of boost, and thrashed them around to get ever-higher ratings. He proudly proved he could easily control and inflict failure on characters whose names were recognizable having once been popular but who were now stuck in the minor leagues. Meanwhile, Trump’s popularity rose.
Like a mountain of bubbles in a bathtub, there was little real substance in the political image Trump created for himself by 2016. He had no real steak to offer, but he had more than enough sizzle.
The rest is history. He tossed his Vietnamese-manufactured “Make American Great Again” hat into the crowded ring and immediately stood out boldly against the stable of Republican wannabes who were virtually indistinguishable from one another. His cast away opponents either went home to lick their wounds or prolonged their agony by embracing his campaign. Trump squeezed out what little value they had left and then left them by the roadside (see Christie, Chris).
With active and illegal complicity, his de facto campaign manager Vladimir Putin crafted and executed a masterfully deceitful strategy for the general election. Hacking into Democratic leaders’ e-mails and making other well-timed cyber moves and Wiki leaks, Putin’s minions created a growing series of questionable concerns about Hilary Clinton. With heavy strategic applications of paid advertisements on major social media sites, The Donald’s allies in the Kremlin pushed all the right buttons to plant propaganda into the willing ears of those living in the heartland. Their strategy’s climax came at the either unwitting or cunning announcement by FBI Director James Comey that more Clinton e-mails were under investigation less than 48 hours before the polls opened. The Hammer & Sickle banner was raised to new heights as the Trump/Putin campaign successfully turned the tide of reason in the electorate just enough for the Electoral College to negate the popular vote.
Gleeful high fives in Moscow. Trump was in.
God help us.
Now that he is president, it’s important to understand what motivates Trump as he plays the ringmaster over his circus. We caught more than a hilariously stupid glimpse of what is in store for the next four years very early in his administration. In the face of indisputable evidence to the contrary, Trump launched his administration by adamantly insisting that his Inaugural crowd was the largest ever, dwarfing President Obama’s crowds. In other words, Trump’s presidency began with what 99.4% of sane people in the world knew was the boldest of bold-faced lies. His humiliated Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, was ordered to support those outrageously false assertions in his first press briefing from the White House. Trump and Spicer were the only two people who made those farcical assertions. Everyone knew that neither believed it.
And that was just the inauspicious beginning.
Many political commentators have since grasped the obvious and reported that Trump has absolutely no fundamental political beliefs to inform his decision making. Instead, his decisions waffle depending on what works best for him at a given time. Believing in nothing is very advantageous to someone cares nothing for the truth and wants to remain pragmatically flexible.
Regrettably “pragmatically flexible” is a new piece of Washington-speak that is the equivalent of “unpredictable,” or in Trump’s case “wildly unpredictable.” Trump is definitely that. Those who try to read his mind have to realize he is fundamentally a spoiled and over-inflated bag of pure ego. Not unlike his counterpart in North Korea, Trump expects his people to, not only accept, but applaud loudly, his blatantly self-serving lies. Unfortunately, many who invested their support in him find they either have to turn a blind eye to the nature of the man and his shenanigans or admit to a big mistake. Understandably, obstinance favors the former option.
Unpredictability is a strategic tool that fools people and keeps Trump in the limelight where his bleached comb-over and pink cheeks look best. He stirs the pot, which is not necessarily a bad thing but can be very dangerous in some instances. I think we all have reason to worry about whether he knows the difference.
Ultimately, Trump has no ideology or morality in the foundation of ‘What’s Best for America.’ The true bottom line is that whatever Donald Trump does is driven by what’s best for Donald Trump. It has always been that way; he knows no other way to live.
Certainly some people, his family, his unstable inner circle, his daughter’s wedding planner, and his business associates have benefitted from some of his decisions and actions, but those are collateral consequences. Trump seems to firmly believe that what is good for The Donald is always the equivalent of What’s Best for America. So far, I contend that our American values and his stances have never been aligned and are becoming further distant by the day.
A User’s Guide to President Trump – Warnings:
- Do not expect the truth from The Donald; Fact check whatever he says, even if it is something you think might be true. It’s a shame to have to do this, but it comes with the territory.
- Always keep in mind that Donald Trump is his own favorite cause, topic, and person. Donald Trump NEVER does anything that doesn’t primarily benefit Donald Trump. Interpret anything he says or does accordingly. From this vantage point, what he says and does will make more sense in a perverse way. It might not be acceptable or make you feel better, but it is easier to work with than total chaos.
- Donald Trump will often surprise his allies and detractors by doing the polar opposite of what they expect. He unapologetically contradicts himself often. He is unpredictable simply for no other reason than shock value. He loves creating unexpected change because it almost always grabs his favorite elixir: attention.
- Oh, one more thing, and this is a big one. Beware: At all costs, whatever you do, don’t let Trump’s reckless bravado start a nuclear w