They call it an October surprise, and we had a few of those in the run-up to this historic 2016 election. Maybe not one as stunning as the November surprise that put Donald Trump in the White House, but now comes the question, how about the surprises that may come in February, March, April and beyond?
Because here’s the thing about Donald J. So without context is he upon entering the Oval Office, and so opaque to the public are his business dealings – no tax returns released after all – what happens when it turns out he just said all those things on the campaign trail to get into office, and didn’t really believe wholeheartedly in very much of that agenda?
It may be a cynic’s view, but what if he turns out to be the left-leaning New York Dem he once admitted being? OMG, what if in one of the great ironies in U.S. political history President-elect Trump ends up as a hybrid version of a third Obama term? Yikes!
Who can say with him? He owes nothing to anyone. The last two Republican presidents did not vote for him. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan pulled away from him, though he is now trying to pretend like oh, Donald Trump did a great job dragging the Republicans to a majority government position in the House and Senate.
What if he gets to the Oval Office and sees how complex the world really is, and how difficult it is for a president to deal with that complexity, where there is no easy black-white answer? Remember how Obama was going to close Guantanamo Bay in his first 100 days? How’d that work out eight years later?
So let’s not all be shocked when those rabid supporters who voted for him see their specific agenda items go wanting, because Trump decided to go in another direction upon further reflection?
Despite the Dow Futures taking an 800-point plunge the night of the election, the next two days saw the market turn bullish with the knowledge that many of Trump’s tax and trade policies favor people with stock portfolios. How many of his supporters in rural America have stock portfolios? To whom is his real allegiance owed? Who has he been playing golf with all these years, plumbers, electricians, ex-factory workers?
You talk about a mandate. This is the closest one we’ve seen since Ronald Reagan came into power in 1981. Remember, this guy used to be pro-choice and pro-Clinton. You don’t think that if he had seen an easier path to the White House through the Democratic Party he wouldn’t have run as a Democrat? It’s because it was such a bloated field on the Republican side that he chose that route.
The big surprise may be if he actually believes the things he said during the campaign. He has already taken the Muslim ban off his official website. So the back-pedaling has already begun.
With no past experience in public service to draw on, how much of what he learns once in office will force him to alter the Christmas list of agenda items? When is that Mexican border wall going up? When will that deportation force begin rousting the 11 million illegal immigrants? When will that special prosecutor start investigating Hillary?
How much will he have to lean on members of his inner circle and cabinet just to get him up to speed in the everyday dealings that either grease the skids or freeze legislative agendas?
Campaigning for office and serving in office are two very different skill sets. Hillary Clinton just proved how poor she was in the former even as her job as New York senator showed her acumen in the latter. Mr. Trump, on the other hand, has proven to be a rock star campaigner.
But throughout his career Mr. Trump has been, let’s call it somewhat cavalier with facts, often considering a bold but fatuous assertion every bit their equal. Facts, after all, are so messy and inconvenient with that whole need for supporting evidence. He says as much in his books.
“People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest,” he says in The Art of The Deal. “Call it truthful hyperbole.”
So he says what he thinks people want to hear, because he has a need to be liked, and doesn’t let truth get in the way. That’s why the 58-story Trump Tower was advertised with a top floor of 68 stories. Not because it was 68 stories high, but so it would sell for a higher price at 68, and caveat emptor.
This is why, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, he can believe that he wasn’t being misogynistic, or dipshitish, when discussing the finer points of gender relations with Billy Bush in that infamous Access Hollywood video. He wasn’t at fault, he was the victim. They didn’t tell him the microphone was on.
Black is white, up is down, bad is good. It’s the cynicism of the Big Lie. Tell it over and over and over again and, who knows, after a while it begins to seep in until they will begin to believe it. Truth is only perception.
This kind of self-delusion is significant in a president, of course, since it involves each of us. But Narcissistic self-obsession is systematic of a certain kind of personality.
When we think of narcissistic personality disorder, at its core it is caused by very poor self-esteem. And what gets constructed to protect against this is its opposite, a very grandiose, over-the-top behavioral pattern. But it is all very fragile, because beneath it lies the knowledge, whether conscious of not, of there being a very damaged person within.
That’s why notwithstanding all the defects of Hillary Clinton (and God knows they were manifest), this is the standard-bearer of the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan?
If so, the party has sadly traded its soul for the expedience of winning, and has little to none of its integrity left, because integrity is for chumps not champs by the Trump measure. Lie, cheat, swindle, it’s all in the outcome. If it helps me win there is no foul. Ends over means to the highest power. Screw everything else.
That is now the face of America to the world. And after all that America has meant to the world it seems just a little incredible. Unless, of course, the recent past really isn’t prologue after all.