Donald Trump is the greatest reality TV star in history. For all of the man’s boasts, and his sometimes empty claims, this is one crown I doubt anyone could deny him. Now I have been pretty hard on President Trump throughout most of his presidency, and I doubt this piece will be much different, but I want to try to give the man his due. He is certainly the most entertaining president of my lifetime (I was an infant when Nixon was collapsing), and he might just be the most fascinating man ever to hold the office of Commander-in-Chief.
I will not give a biographical portrait of Mr. Trump here (I suspect, regardless of my anonymity, that I might actually get sued should I get any facts wrong–and with Donald Trump ‘facts’ is a relative term), and so I will remain true to the charter of this website and offer some ‘editorial history.’
Every day something new crops up to be debated, warned about, or mocked on television regarding some curious or crude statement the President has made. Usually he offers these statements on Twitter, a site, I know from experience, as I am sure most of you do as well, that encourages people to attack one another’s most poignant beliefs, and tends to be just another vicious mess like those AOL chatrooms were back at the dawn of the internet age.
President Trump is no less cruel, no less mean-spirited or loose with the truth than any of the other trolls who seek to undermine whatever an opposition viewpoint has to say. Trump is a master at this as a matter of fact (that word again!), and given his high profile, he certainly knows how to get people talking. Controversy, of any sort, seems to be what partisans yearn for, on every side, something to hate or support (on a personal note, when checking the numbers on this website alongside the numerous others I promote Recording Editorial History on, the more controversial the topic, the larger the audience).
Someone, if not Trump himself, alerted the President to the fact that communications have broken down in the present age, and that technology has replaced actual face-to-face friendships. Texting is more prevalent than actually talking to each other on the phone (I listen to my children and their friends squaring up on the phone, usually muttering out single syllable words–grunts like “Yeah,” and “Nah,” or the more complicated “Idk,” actually said out loud). Donald Trump understands this faceless buffoonery, and snarky rumors and lies it takes very little to get people to believe, and suddenly everyone, even more so the people against him, are fanatically interested in what he has to say.
Here are a few quotes from ‘The Donald’ on his style of negotiation from The Art of The Deal ( https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780394555287&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used). These should be taken very seriously, I believe, and applied to his style of governing, because he looks at everything as just another business. So here:
- “One thing I’ve learned about the press is that they’re always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational the better…The point is that if you are a little different, a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you.”
2. “In most cases I’m very easy to get along with. I’m very good to people who are good to me. But when people treat me badly or unfairly or try to take advantage of me, my general attitude, all my life, has been to fight back very hard.”
3. “Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.”
How do these tactics apply to the use of political power for Donald Trump? You tell me.
Trump is also keen on lying and ‘hyperbole’ as a business tactic to ‘keep the advantage.’ He says, “if you tell people a lie three times, they will believe it.” Think about this. How many times has he repeated the same thing, almost as a mantra–“No collusion! No collusion! No collusion!” And something over 30% of Americans believe him, almost as though these cynical words were their new gospel.
Oh yes, Donald Trump has a religious following. But the man himself is superficial, comparing his being shut out of a Nobel Peace Prize (something he could never come close to possibly deserving, regardless of how meaningless the prize often is–and before you call me a partisan hack, Barrack Obama, also, certainly did not deserve to win. If anything, the American people should have received the credit for electing him. But Obama had done next to nothing by the point he received it. Few things have undermined the value of the prize more)–Donald Trump compared not winning a Nobel Peace Prize to not winning a prime-time Emmy for best reality show. I doubt he can even tell the difference, each just another trophy of well-deserved praise.
But the ‘reality show’ mentality–the key to Trump’s greatest success, is the most telling part of how the man tries to run the nation, and is also responsible for why the scandals and chaos that emerge on a daily basis are so damn entertaining. We have crime, corruption, sex scandals, adultery, family problems, international intrigue, spies, murder, and the fate of the free world all swirling around like a daily scripted drama where we don’t quite know what’s going to happen next! It’s thrilling. And while it certainly turns plenty of people off, looking away from the present like people who’s minds are already made up and they don’t need something like ‘reality’ to get in the way of their beliefs, most of us are riveted. As President Trump would say, he probably has the highest TV ratings of any president, ever. He will have nearly as many books written about him, by century’s end, as Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and JFK. Of course the vast majority of those books will be negative, not so much out of a sense of partisan bias, but more from that disgust coming from the audience, the villainous character on the show that everyone hates but without whom the whole program would fall apart. That is an instant bestseller.
Donald Trump is not a serious man. He really isn’t–he does not care about anything, really, beyond making money and having a good time. He took the wrong job, however, if he planned on accomplishing these goals. Nations, in this modern, fast-paced age of universal greed (“we get the leaders that we deserve”), are bound to lose in the end, the house always winning. And as for fun–does it look like Mr. Trump is having any fun? The tabloid mentality that existed certainly before him, but has reached its prime with his administration, even reports rumors that he is enraged, or irritated, perhaps frightened, or that he said something he probably shouldn’t have in private. There is no such thing, really, as privacy in such a wide public sphere as President of the United States. There are always spies, or disillusioned former supporters appalled by some of the things the presidents has done, or even misguided soldiers who say the wrong thing. And Donald Trump was not ready for this. I doubt he had any idea just how difficult the job is. I mean, look at how vastly each person in that office ages. Remember svelte, young Barrack Obama? Look at him after eight years. George W. Bush? Yikes! Clinton? Sagging, old, fat, while once being a handsome charmer.
Donald Trump is already old. He may not be impeached, and his tremendous will might keep him in office even into a new term. But he does not look well. The ravages of his life had already started devouring him before he even ran for office. How can one expect a person with such an unhealthy lifestyle, in his 70s, to continue working the worst job on the world for eight years? Why would he even want to after the endless backlash he faces day after day after day, himself being every bit as hated by an opposition as Obama was before him, if not even more?
The title of this essay is not really precise. Donald Trump never really had a public grace period. He arrived on the scene with a great story and controversial views. Anyone who criticized him, he did them one better, going farther than nearly everyone was comfortable with, and they could usually only respond with a meek ‘that’s out of line!’
Finally, while money is certainly a chief concern, we should seriously doubt if his primary goal is to make it for the nation. As he says, “The real excitement is playing the game.” We are all pieces on the board to him. His only ambition is “to win,” no matter how much suffering his opponents must fear, and how unsatisfied his supporters will ultimately be. He does not define winning the way that you or I will. It is more like a boxing match for him–I may have lost on the scorecard, but I put you on your ass! Points for low blows! You couldn’t put me down, but I nearly knocked you out!