Henry David Thoreau famously observed “Most men live lives of quiet desperation.” After 14 months in office Donald Trump has demonstrated one thing for sure…he ain’t “most men”.
The things that have burdened and constrained all of our previous presidents are, for Trump, inapplicable. We’re talking about things like facts, truthfulness, study, consultation with experts, and thoughtful implementation of policy.
Trump is way too big for that Mickey Mouse. Those are the kind of things “low energy” Jeb Bush or “crooked” Hillary or “little” Marco Rubio or “lying” Ted Cruz would be doing if they could have beaten Trump. But they couldn’t. They didn’t have the Trump formula..the Trump magic.
So what is the Trump formula? First, know yourself and know what has always worked for you. Second, never apologize, never admit a mistake, and never let them see you sweat. Third, talk like a winner…use superlatives…”disaster…it’s going to stop…best in history.” Fourth, protect the Trump brand, trust your gut, and fight to win every news cycle.
Its working so well that it leaves him almost nothing to do. He blocks out three hours every weekday morning for what the schedule refers to as “Executive Time”. Trump uses that time to watch FOX and get affirmation. On the weekend he goes to Mar-a-Lago and meets old friends like Christopher Ruddy, the founder and CEO of Newsmax Media, and Thomas Barrack, billionaire equity and real estate investor. If they like a Trump idea…like meeting with the leader of North Korea…that may be all it takes.
It works for Trump…so far. Trump knows what he doesn’t know and what he’s unwilling to do. He knows he can’t put the hours into briefing books on complicated issues. Too much effort and too much danger of being inhibited by “experts” who have studied the particular issue for years. It’s easier to just say…”I’m going to meet with the North Korea guy in May.” Implied message to the State Department and the rest of the bureaucracy: “the decision has been made, your input is not needed, set it up, don’t call me I’ll call you.”
Tariffs, same deal. The resistance was the business community plus some of his own staff and bureaucracy. Need to be decisive. Got to act before critical mass forms. Make an announcement and set a date to sign the documents. Put the pressure on his staff to prepare the documents. Get some actual steelworkers in and sign the papers. Great theatre…great TV. News cycle won…again. Added bonus: serial suck-up Gary Cohn has hurt feelings and leaves. Earth continues to rotate on axis.
It’s working for Trump, sort of…for now. Stock market is strong, unemployment is low, and his job approval numbers are staying in the mid to high thirties…low for most recent presidents but high enough to render him impeachment and removal proof.
If Trump’s measure of success is to be able to claim “they can’t impeach and remove me,” he’s succeeding. Beyond that, not much.
There is a bit of an air of unreality about the whole Trump Show. He’s somewhat akin to a juggler who keeps adding things to juggle to keep the show interesting. After awhile the juggler adds one thing more than he can juggle. Everything ends up on the floor. The act is over. Get the hook. Pull him off the stage.
We’re certainly not there yet. Are we going to get there? It’s not a sure thing.
The guy can juggle.
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