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Exploring Trump

by Stephen Kaye
Wed Jan 13th, 2016

Presidential Candidate Donald Trump

Thinking voters could be perplexed by Donald Trump. We still don’t know who this guy is, or who he is pretending to be. Is he all pretense, or is what we are hearing the real Trump?  

We won’t know until someone in the press has an extended one-on-one interview.  We can surmise that the Trump we see on television is the public persona trumped up for popular consumption and his target audience – the voting white male bigot with little education. An audience defined as probably a gun-toting, woman-bashing, non-establishment, angry and immigrant-loathing Republican, which covers most of the tea party. 

But, is there another Trump?  There must be.  The executive who knows who to trust and how to delegate.  The Trump who knows how to find answers to questions on matters he doesn’t know about, assuming he recognizes there are such matters, which is not a sure thing.  

The Trump name may be Trump’s principal asset.  He has been building that name since he graduated from Wharton in 1968.  He is trying to leverage that name into the presidency.  He does it by being the county’s most irrepressible braggart.  But he is being found out.  He has sued writers who called him a multi-millionaire when he insists he is a multi-billionaire.  He has made millions by licensing his name that appears on buildings all over the world.  His connection to most of these buildings is name only.  For that, he gets paid.  It has gone to his head that if something has his name on it, it will be a success.  So he wants to put his name on the White House.  It’s an address he envies. 

Other than a nose for a good address, what qualities does Trump have that he would bring to the presidency?  Negotiating skill: good for real estate deals, but are those skills good for international diplomacy?  Not clear.  For dealing with Congress?  Maybe.  Trumpeting absurd notions will not gain him friends with the international crowd at the UN, NATO or the G-20. It is feared that his ego will get in the way of listening to sober advice.  He is not used to taking advice or being told what he should do.  He seems not to be a student of history, nor is he addicted to the truth.

His campaign website list five areas: China trade, income tax reform, guns laws, Veterans Administration reform and immigration.  Trump says he will declare China a currency manipulator (a job for the World Trade Organization, not the chief executive); make China enforce our intellectual property laws, “give American workers a level playing field” (perhaps by reducing American wages to Chinese levels), end Chinese export subsidies and make China apply environmental standards that Trump will dictate to the Chinese.  

The simple income tax rules Trump advocates sound good, but will they produce the revenue needed to fund the American government? No, says one report.  Trump is in favor of people carrying a gun.  He carries one, he says, because he wants to protect himself.  Against what or whom he does not say.  But he wants the gun lobby behind him, and he has taken the most favored position on behalf of the NRA and the gun lobby.  He will change the VA overnight by force of character.  He will issue a directive and they will, of course, comply. 

His immigration section berates Mexico and Mexicans who work in the United States.  He will make Mexico pay for the wall.  He will seize all remittances made by Mexicans to their families.  He will stop Mexicans working in the U.S.  He doesn’t say who will harvest our crops or do the work on our farms.  His immigration position is pure hate talk.  He has no immigration position; he has a diatribe. 

He has failed to curry favor with the leaders of the party he would like to lead, not a politically savvy move.  

Here are the heavy-hitters in his campaign organization:

  • Sam Clovis-National Co-Chairman and Policy Advisor. Clovis served as Iowa chair of Rick Perry's campaign until Aug. 25, 2015 when he switched to Trump’s campaign. In 2011-12, he endorsed Rick Santorum.  Professor of economics at Morningside College; Republican nominee for Treasurer of Iowa, 2014;  Radio talk show host KSCJ; Colonel US Air Force, where he served for 25 years.  Ph.D., University of Alabama; MBA, Golden Gate University; B.S. in political science, Air Force Academy, 1971.  
  • Michael Glassner, Trump’s national political director is a seasoned political pro.  Was Sarah Palin’s “top advisor”.  Started in Nixon campaign, has 30 years experience. 
  • Ivanka Trump is mentioned as one of his closest advisors. She is careful, well-spoken, politically ambidextrous. She backed Cory Booker, a Democrat. Look for her to emerge as a key player. 

Generally, the campaign is loaded with Republican operatives of the ideological right, tea-party functionaries, members of Americans for Prosperity, a knee-jerk, right wing political action PACT (funded by the Koch brothers)  that claims 2.4 million members that has a short list of mostly negative positions. (They are against Obama and Obama Care!) Given the prevalence of these campaign managers, one can expect Trump to talk and think in these terms. 

Trump mouths the same inanities as his Republican opponents who also seek the Koch brothers’ blessing.  “Make America great again” is a favorite line.  So far, Trump has outlined a mindless platform much in line with the Koch brothers.  They must be watching with a smile.