‘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

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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