The Art of the Deal was the book that brought public recognition to Donald Trump and started him on the path to the presidency. It brought him a certain credibility as a businessman and established him as a figure capable of making wonderful deals: a man who knew what he was doing when negotiating with other people. His television persona in The Celebrity Apprentice and his constant appearance in the society pages of the newspapers reinforced the idea that he was a man of great street smarts and knowledge. However, the persona he presented was all a façade, with not a curious bone in his body and no desire to read or learn anything new. He was a narcissistic con artist who fooled many people into believing he was smarter than he was, richer than he was, and with the ability to run a country as well as a business.
Yet if he were the successful businessman he claimed to be, why was he so concerned about releasing his tax returns to public scrutiny, as every other presidential candidate had done for the last forty years. Had he done something illegal? Was he involved with shady characters or the Russians? Was he in debt or less rich than he had led Americans to believe? There were stories floating around of how he had stiffed contractors working on his projects and had misled investors in some of his deals, causing them to lose large sums. It would have been so easy for him to dispel the rumors and show the world that he had not done anything illegal and that he was indeed rich and successful. But his refusal to release his taxes had to mean that he was hiding something, or perhaps many things. For this arrogant businessman not to prove to everyone that he was an amazingly successful person and to stop people from questioning his bona fides indicated that he was afraid to do it for one reason or another.
And why is he worried about Mueller investigating his financial records in addition to his and his campaign team’s involvement with the Russians. What can be revealed that troubles him, either because he did something illegal or it threatens to impact his stature? And for a man as pompous and smug as Trump, the latter would probably be as devastating as the former. He has a self-image that he doesn’t want tainted.
So while we wait for the Mueller and Congressional investigations to run their course, Trump sits in the White House, making many Americans anxious as he acts and reacts spontaneously to slights and perceived slights from individuals and countries. In reality, instead of The Art of the Deal, he should have titled his book The Art of the Ordeal, which he is putting all Americans through as they wait to see what will happen next. A compendium of his actions does not give one much hope that at some point a new Donald Trump will emerge.
A minor summary of the ordeal Americans have been subjected to by Trump would include his ‘pussy grabbing’ of women, his insistence on a wall at America’s southern border that Mexico will pay for, his unadulterated praise for Putin, his negative comments about John McCain- a true hero, his belittling of a Muslim Gold Star family when Trump never served in the military, his hiring and then firing of General Flynn, his firing of James Comey who would not do his bidding at the FBI, his support for fossil fuels when more jobs are in renewables, his dropping out of the Paris Accord which was unnecessary from an economic standpoint, his denigration of NATO, his handling of Charlottesville and equating white supremacists with anti-racist marchers, his pardoning of Joe Arpaio who violated human rights, his threat to let the US default on its debt if there is no funding for his wall, and on and on.
So where do we go from here? Will the ordeal ever come to an end? Trump could resign, or Mueller could come after him, or he could be impeached, or fill out his four year term. Re-election is too horrid to consider. Now that citizens have seen him in action in office, could they possibly keep him for another four years? Remember that few Americans imagined him as president in the first place and he still won. He would love to win another term just to stick it to the elites, academics, and liberals who have labelled him an incompetent bully and buffoon.
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