Meringue-haired mogul is a carnival barker, not a statesman
By MICHAEL W. DOMINOWSKI
Donald Trump is not a serious presidential candidate. He will not be the Republican nominee, because he doesn’t want to be.
Sure, he’s been leading the Republican presidential derby in the polls since he bolted out of the gate, and he has utterly dominated the debates. Donald Trump can be found at the top of almost every political news cycle.
That certainly sounds like he is a serious candidate, but if you were to believe it so, you would be wrong. For the Donald Trump candidacy, front-running is not just part of the show, it is the whole point.
And what a show it is. He’s the darling of the mainstream media. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders outpolls Trump and routinely draws larger crowds, but The Donald’s flamboyant style and exuberant, gratuitously offensive manners – which he passes off as a disdain for political correctness – have the corporate news talking heads in his thrall. They actually imagine him as president.
An intimidating presence
If there is one thing Donald Trump loves to do, it is to show others up. And he does it very well. He’s made winning through intimidation a centerpiece of his real-estate and scripted-reality show-business career, and he’s extended the shtick to the national political stage.
Other candidates, stuck in Trump’s long shadow, sometimes try to emulate the master. The “me-too” tactic is usually good only for a laugh or a face-palm.
Consider: Everything that bears the Trump brand is an extension of his ego. His office and residential towers are the most expensive, his golf courses the most challenging, his casinos the glitziest. [Cue the sighs of adulation]
The spotlight follows him. Whatever he does, Donald Trump wants you to know that nobody does it better. And if anybody thinks otherwise, he’ll rub their noses in it.
The tale of Wollman Rink is instructive.
In 1980, New York City closed the famed circa 1949 Wollman ice skating rink in Central Park for a 2½ year renovation project. In typical inept city government fashion, six years elapsed and the work was still far from done.
Enter Donald Trump. He persuaded Mayor Ed Koch to let him finish the job. Trump agreed to pay for the renovations himself, if he was allowed to use profits from the rink, and an adjacent restaurant, to recover his costs. Barely three months later, the rink renewal was done.
As Trump did self-congratulatory pirouettes, City Hall took a pratfall.
Nearly three decades later, the facility is known as the Trump Skating Rink. It is run by his corporate organization and his name is prominently displayed on its walls.
Boss, big-shot and bully
Donald Trump has cultivated an image as a man who gets things done with a messianic wave of his hand, and damn the torpedoes, full-speed ahead!
He is the bull of the woods, a demanding iron-fisted boss who expects the results he wants and will fire anybody at the drop of a hat if they don’t deliver. He is a litigious bully who won’t hesitate to sue anyone who gets in his way. He’s got a hide like a rhinoceros; he cannot be embarrassed and is not only immune to, but energized by, the verbal slings and arrows of his adversaries.
In this age of partisan political obstructionism, what’s not to like about a presidential candidate who boldly cuts through the BS?
The answer, quite simply, is that what works giddily well for Donald Trump the tycoon won’t work at all for Donald Trump the president, and he knows it.
Disdain for details
No president, including President Trump, could unilaterally rip out popular, successful Obamacare on the promise to replace it with “something fantastic.” (Donald Trump’s post-election-victory plans tend to be utterly devoid of details.)
When it comes to foreign policy, Donald Trump is hopeless. He doesn’t know the names of the heads of state of other countries, and doesn’t want to. He famously said “They’ll all be changed anyway by the time I’m in office.”
He admits he doesn’t understand the civil war in Syria and says giving that country to the Russians would be just fine. He says he will learn the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah “when it’s appropriate.”
Despite his intimations that a better deal could have been reached with the thump of a fist on the bargaining table, President Trump would have had no patience for the years of painstaking negotiations that led to the complicated nuclear weapons agreement with Iran, a country that is not susceptible to saber-rattling. The deal would not have happened, plain and simple.
His answer to getting a handle on illegal immigration (a political wedge issue which is nowhere near as bad as the headlines suggest)? He bombastically declares “We have to build a wall! … I will make Mexico pay for it!”
But the Great Wall of Texas would be built, on faulty suppositions and a string of myths – not the least of which is that all of our unauthorized immigrants come from Mexico.
He would then deport every unauthorized immigrant he could lay his hands on – some 11.3 million of them, equivalent to the entire population of the state of Ohio. “They have to go!” he bellows.
How will he accomplish such a feat? “It’s called management,” he condescendingly declares.
It is all quite preposterous. But Donald Trump only trafficks in grand plans. He does not have time for practical details.
Operating without a map
Meanwhile, he has yet to utter a single word of policy intent when it comes to such unsexy subjects as salvaging our bridges and highways and other national infrastructure, projects where money for that ridiculous wall could be far better spent.
Where does he stand on climate change? He states his approach in a Twitter message:
“This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.”
What’s his position on the Keystone XL pipeline – which would transfer sulfur-dirty shale oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast – exclusively for export? Again, the Donald Trump Twitter version of policy:
“Will the Keystone XL pipeline finally be approved? Will create over 100,000 jobs and make us more energy independent.”
Even the companies behind the project say the completed pipeline would create just 35 permanent jobs. Also, the pipeline makes no economic sense unless the price of oil is jacked back up again to above $70 a barrel.
Call him clueless, if you will, but remember: Details are not Donald Trump’s friend.
Tax cuts for the unimaginably wealthy
His recent foray into reforming the tax structure was carefully built around a narrative designed to sound good to the easily swindled low-information bobble-head members of the waning Middle Class and those further downstream from the fictitious benefits of trickle-down economics.
But even the most cursory examination of the Donald Trump tax plan shows it is a scam. By some estimates it would cut revenue by $10 trillion, a number so large as to be all but unimaginable. And, of course the lion’s share of the tax reductions would, once again, accrue to the top economic one-percent.
How Donald Trump thinks he could run a country without tax revenue is anybody’s guess. Paying the bills is apparently an unimportant detail to a plutocrat who has gamed the corporate bankruptcy laws at least five times.
Dealing with infrastructure and climate change and energy policy and a myriad of other patience-sapping nuts-and-bolts issues is not something The Donald would be good at, mostly because he could not simply order the results he wants.
Rather he would have to work with that confederacy of jackasses known collectively as Congress. Even the best-contrived political bargain, however laboriously arrived at, could be upended if some Senator Bumfuzzle didn’t like it or decided to hold out for more.
Donald Trump has no forbearance for that sort of thing. He is not one to be schmoozing bureaucrats or demeaning himself by entreating political stiffs to fold local compromises into some grand national plan.
For one thing, it would be too much work. But as president he would have to do it. Donald Trump is not the sort to turn the actual running of the country over to his vice president, George W. Bush style.
That is not to suggest the Trump on the stump is all substance and gravitas.
A cardboard messiah
Look beyond the showmanship and the self-promoting, the slogan spouting, the amusing, if rude, personal verbal dope-slaps of his rivals, and the outrageous positions, or more often non-positions, on major issues and you will find that “President Trump” is an illusion, a cardboard cut-out that looks great and robust under the fireworks, but pale and flat in the cold light of day.
In the end, perhaps with the nomination within reach, Donald Trump will bow out. Never one to let an opportunity pass, he will, of course, cement himself an endorsement deal which will give him power and influence in what he hopes turns out to be the next administration
He will never have to belly up to the terminally exasperating job of actually governing, but Donald Trump will have shown the nation how political campaigns are properly done.
Michael W. Dominowski is a contributor to Not For Hire Media,