Initially it was Trump’s bombastic, egotistical style which appalled me and raised my hackles. Later it was Trump’s inability to distinguish fact from fiction which sealed his fate in my eyes. Finally Trump will justifiably be crucified by later generations as his style of leadership has irredeemably cheapened that nation’s political discourse.
Has the cumulative effect of Trump’s blundering finally cast his Presidency as doomed? Signs of a backlash abound but will this Teflon coated man survive through sheer bloody mindedness?
Main picture: A smirking Donald Trump
A Nationalist Agenda
The dirtiness of American politics is legendary yet Trump easily exceeds all previous measures in terms of lying, lack of decorum and incorrect factual knowledge. Having spent at least the required 10,000 hours practicing at being obnoxious, Trump abounded in lack of humanity during his presidential campaign. Amongst his egregiously hurtful comments was about a fellow Republican presidential candidate, John McCain. Rightly regarded as an American hero for having endured half a decade of torture in the hands of his North Vietnamese captors, Trump decried this as a basis of celebrating McCain’s tenacity and fortitude.
What perverse logic?
Trump is an admitted nationalist whereas since WW2 America has adopted the stance of Pax Americana, by expousing its role as a model for democracy, free speech and openness. Instead Trump’s world view is that America must once again retreat into isolationism as a defence against the rest of the world. Instead of being a bulwark against non-liberal totalitarian governments, the rest of the world will have to seek a new mentor and guardian of their values and ideals.
Where Trump is correct in that the overreach by the previous Republican administration in attempting to impose democratic values on the world, is ineffectual. In this role, America was a dismal failure. Just ask the Iraqis and Afghanies. That process is draw-out and requires the willpower of the affected people and not some rapidly applied foreign band-aid.
Apart from that meeting of minds with Trump, for me the majority of Trump’s policies are merely political grandstanding on Trump’s megalomaniac terms. In this manner, Trump seized the imaginations of the poor, unemployed and underpaid white blue-collar workers. Not being a bibliophile, Trump would not had read a recent America best seller, The Hillbilly Elegies, which exposes the way of life of his core supporters. Apart from rapidly becoming an ever diminishing fraction of America’s multi-cultural society, their values of indolence, bigotry, intolerance and drug addiction are the antithesis of core American values.
Tenuous grasp on truthfulness and veracity of facts
What became very self-evident during Trump’s campaign, was that he possessed a tenuous grasp of the definition of what truth entailed. He certainly was not telling the truth nor was he spinning or stretching it as most politicians are wont to do. Rather he was guilty of just plain unabashed lying. So ingrained was this habit that the lies were often related to easily checked figures such as the unemployment rate. For instance, during his campaign, Trump claimed that unemployment under Obama was the highest in decades. Meanwhile it was the lowest in decades at 4.9%. He then went on to claim that he would reduce the unemployment significantly whereas it is acknowledged that an unemployment rate of 5% was the natural minimal unemployment rate.
As a daily reader of the New York Times, I am exposed to the extent of Trump’s lies on a daily basis. Two recent lies expose the extent of Trump’s disconnect with the real world.
During a recent address to a group of Boy Scouts at the National Scout Jamboree, Trump did not adhere to the generally accepted protocol whereby at non-political events such as this one was, that the political grandee would steer clear on any mention of politics. Not Trump. Instead he weighed in about the incompetence of his F.B.I. Director to a bunch of teenagers. In horror, the Boy Scouts Association issued a letter to all the parents apologising for Trump’s wholly inappropriate speech. What did Trump do? The next morning he claimed that the Boy Scouts Association had complemented him on the best speech ever given!
Similarly, a few weeks ago, Donald tweeted that “after extensive discussions with the military chiefs of staff, they had decided to revoke Obama’s decree that ‘sexually reassigned’ individuals could serve in the military due to the huge cost.” A quick phone call to the Chiefs of Staff confirmed that Trump had neither conferred with them. Furthermore, they confirmed that the cost was negligible being the order of $5m per annum. In a defence budget amounting to over a trillion dollars, it is a trifle.
The Toxic Boss
At some point in one’s career, one encounters the toxic boss. With never a kind or positive word about any of their subordinates, they subject them to a daily torrent of abuse. In doing so, they demoralise them; sometimes even causing them to experience nervous breakdowns. Their tirades reduce the staff’s productivity and moreover it instills a sense of fear in the workplace, crimping initiative. As the toxic boss seldom acknowledges excellent performance, the only option for employees is to place as much distance between oneself and such bosses by resigning. Naturally it is the excellent employees who will be first to desert the cesspit leaving the less competent behind.
Trump has displayed all the hallmarks of the classic low EQ syndrome. He constantly berates his staff publically with the result that the White House is totally dysfunctional. His favourite phase “You’re fired” has been used with gay abandon especially when Trump disagrees with a subordinate.
What is more, Trump has inverted the role of the Advisor. The classic role of his person is to use their profound knowledge of a subject to simplify the various options and their consequences to their boss. In Trump’s case, instead of listening, he does the talking with the conversation ending with an instruction by Trump what the advisor must do.
Even more soul destroying is that the advisor will be informed by means of the general tweet what Trump’s decision was. It goes without saying that if the advisors are allowed to express an opinion, it is usually discarded or disregarded thus making their role redundant. Perhaps that is why Trump prefers his son-in-law and daughter as advisors.
The Neo-Nazi march through Charlottesville, Virginia, is a case in point. His advisors strenuously requested Trump to unequivocally denounce the Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan actions. What did Trump do? He apportioned equal blame to both the right and left wing marches much to the KKK’s delight.
Instead of being constantly denigrated by their boss, it is only the congenitally masochistically inclined who would accept a job offer from Trump. Demoralisation amongst Trump’s staff has surfaced and runs rampant. Trump’s latest attempt to reign in a shambolic White House is to appoint an ex-military Chief of Staff, General John Kelly. Should Trump revert to type and undermine him in any way, which is the norm, Kelly will resign. Of that I am positive.
Today’s New York Times [Wednesday 23rd August 2017], claims that the Republican Majority Leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, is disillusioned with Trump. Could McConnell be the next senior Republican leader to head for the exits? It does not sound auspicious. In Trump’s warped mind, the fact that the Affordable Care Act, or Obama Care, could not be repealed in the Senate is probably regarded as Dereliction of Duty by McConnell. Evidently the fact that the scrapping of medical care on America’s most vulnerable citizenry was not the reason for the Republicans failure to pass the bill. Rather it was the fault of the man – Mitch McConnell – who is culpable.
In the business world, Trump could act tyrannically and behave abominably and yet escape censure in any form. In democracies, such behaviour by politicians is not condoned.
Ultimately that person pays the price. For instance, what is the possibility that John McCain voted with the Democrats not because he disagreed with the scrapping of Obamacare but due to Trump’s inane comments about his “bravery” during the Vietnamese War?
Trump is surely learning the limits of power. Even the power of the American president is circumscribed by rules and common courtesy. Neither of these aspects does Trump accept or possess. Boorish behaviour alienates everybody. So far that is what Trump has achieved. For me, the attitude of Mitch McConnell reflects the frustration of people who can no longer endure such intolerable behaviour.
Watch this space.
By the way, another annoying aspect, is Trump’s lack of eloquence in his use of the English language. In comparison with Obama, Trump sounds like a teenager with a limited vocabulary.