My friend asked me earlier this week if President Trump knows what he is doing. My friend meant it sarcastically, but within a certain context, the answer is markedly different. The answer is, yes.
Donald runs off of one thing: himself. Donald boasts about his wealth, his ability to get deals done, his own name. Donald is worth billions. On the campaign trail Donald claimed that the repeal & replace of the Affordable Care Act would be unbelievably easy, as he could strike a deal that would lower premiums and expand coverage to everyone. His name is his wealth, and he can slap his name on to anything – building, steak, vodka, casino – and mint money. Anybody tarnishing his wealth gets sued or, in the case of Trump University, defended the sh*t out of it…until he was forced to settle out of court.
Donald is doing in the presidency what he has always done in business, which is to use his personality to intimidate, bully, insult, and take advantage. That is Donald’s capital, and he leverages it to make money. He and his family are getting rich off of his new title as President – Trump leased space in Trump Tower to the RNC, and the Secret Service stayed at Trump’s own hotels during business trips (i.e. Mar a Lago). Trump’s International Hotel on Pennsylvania Ave. has done well after Trump’s surprise victory; foreign government officials reportedly like to stay there.
Trump’s brand has done well, insofar as it generates wealth and prestige for him and his family. Look outside of that window, however, and there are more fires than he can put out. Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jeff Sessions all had contacts with Russians who jointly conspired to sway the election. Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Trump warned the FBI not to look into his finances. Trump is now exploring ways to use the power of the pardon for his family members and – unbelievably – himself. Donald desperately wants to keep his brand untarnished.
For Trump to think that the American people believe his version of truth over concrete facts, he must live in his own reality. In fact, he does. Donald thinks he is worth billions more than he is actually worth, with the difference between actual and perceived worth depending on how he feels that day. Donald believes that more people attended his inauguration than any other. His hotels sport Time Magazine covers of him which boast of his hit show, The Apprentice. Except those covers are fake and Time Magazine asked Trump to remove them. Donald believes that health insurance should cost twelve dollars per year.
Is he joking? No, but the joke is on us. Donald has no grasp of policy, no nuance, no other thought than doing whatever it takes to win, which was to (unknowingly) coordinate with Russia to win an election and, in its latest iteration, to seek the outright repeal the Affordable Care Act with no viable replacement in hand.
The man’s depth of character is as solid as his eponymous University. Donald serves Donald well. The only problem is that President Trump does not know how to serve the public. We are in big trouble.