‘The show is ‘Trump’ and it is sold-out performances everywhere,’ the real-estate tycoon replied with satisfaction back in 1990... it helps explain why he imagines almost everything revolves around him
With the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s election this Wednesday, Americans and people elsewhere can’t stop shaking their heads, wondering about this US president. What makes Trump tick? Why does he inflame passions with abandon? When will the deal-maker arrive at common ground with Congress to pass legislation he’s promised?
The past year — which somehow feels like a decade with the onslaught of investigations, charges, Twitter tantrums, firings and all the rest — demonstrates on an almost hourly basis the unprecedented nature of this presidency.
Without a single day of service in government or the military, Trump won the Electoral College vote and entered the White House with little more than his towering ego and prior experience in real estate and reality television.
Yet what’s striking in looking back over 12 months of non-stop breaking-news bulletins throughout the media, is how little change there’s been in Trump since last November 8.
He’s still more provocateur than politician, a combatant rather than a conciliator, with his trademark pugnacity showing no sign of abating.
He doesn’t shade the truth or engage in spin so much as make statements often at odds with verifiable facts or assessments.
He’s less the coach of a team with many players in different positions than a free-ranging critic, who’s eager to complain about anyone not performing in ways he likes.
He’s the leader of the Republican Party — but constantly feuding with powerful members of the GOP (Grand Old Party).
If it sounds as though Trump wants everything on his terms and without apologies, that’s not far removed from the situation and how he’s operated for decades. Now, though, he occupies a far different stage and the stakes involve war and peace as well as other concerns, domestic and international.
Trump reached the White House without following a conventional path. He campaigned on his own, receiving suspecting glances from established Republicans. Campaign managers arrived and departed without fanfare, but anyone could see the candidate controlled the message and agenda.
A TRUMP-emblazoned jet, owned by the mogul-celebrity dropped from the clouds, and thousands flocked to witness a performance combining patriotic sloganeering, entertaining bombast, bare-knuckled insults and simplistic solutions.
An accomplished prime-time television entertainer — his reality show The Apprentice made Trump a fixture in US living rooms for 14 years, and he always looked commandingly decisive — injected novel excitement into an often ho-hum White House campaign.
Trump’s individualistic approach, similar to the way he conducted his business, served as a warning to potential advisers that they might not be taken seriously. Besides, who expected this first-time candidate to win?
With most of the respected political talent reluctant to participate, many of those hired lacked the expertise required for a national campaign and, later, the transition to power or governing.
The difficulty of building a first-rate electoral team is repeating itself in making appointments to the administration. Many prominent positions remain unfilled because potential deputy secretaries, ambassadors and others worry about serving under a president without precedent. (At the time of writing, nobody’s been nominated as ambassador to Ireland.)
How different is he? Well, Trump hasn’t been shy about criticising his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation of Russian involvement in last year’s election, and he embarrassed his chief diplomat in a recent tweet, saying: “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.”
“Little Rocket Man” refers to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, a nickname — as so many Trump uses — to belittle someone he perceives as an enemy. He used “Crooked Hillary” to ridicule Hillary Clinton with such frequency in 2016 that American schoolchildren had trouble remembering her surname.
It’s become clear since he declared as a presidential candidate in June 2015 that Trump will say whatever he wants, however he wants, whenever he wants — especially when he’s personally irritated. In this respect, his trigger-finger temperament is remarkably constant.
A professional athlete who doesn’t stand during the national anthem quickly becomes “that son of a bitch”. To a long-time employee — according to