Donald Trump may be the greatest con man the world has ever seen. It’s a skill he developed in his real estate and merchandising career and has now brought to the world as president.
You’ve probably read about his failures: his football team, airline, casinos, university, clothing line, steak and wine ventures, etc. Under Trump we risk a failure of the United States, both at home and on the world stage.
In most of his failures, Trump failed to understand the workings of the market and overestimated the marketability of the Trump name. Apparently, he’s a sucker for ideas he thinks will boost his image, and just can’t be bothered with analysis highlighting the difficulties and/or negative public reaction. He has convinced himself — and is on record saying so — that he knows more than his advisors about building walls, trade, corporate finance, interest rates, technology, the military, negotiating and more.
Given that he doesn’t get involved in the details — or even apparently discuss impending actions with his handpicked experts — it’s really not surprising that many of his initiatives fail. He pulled out of NAFTA but was forced to renegotiate and ended up with no significant changes. He pulled out of the TPP, but the other 12 countries went ahead without the United States. He pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal but Russia, China and the major European powers are proceeding without us. He claims global warming is a hoax and pulled out of the 175-nation Paris Climate Accord. Only Russia and Saudi Arabia (together with the U.S. the three biggest oil producers) have followed suit.
He announced a 30-day pullout of all troops from Syria — with the approval of Soviet President Valdimir Putin and Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — but was swiftly persuaded otherwise when two top generals resigned and Israel and his national security advisor objected. He closed the government in an attempt to get government funding for his border wall — apparently with no understanding of or care for the hardships this will create for government workers who are furloughed, contractors who will not be paid, citizens waiting for tax refunds, welfare recipients who will not receive food stamps, etc.
What’s more, even his own advisors admit the current wall is not effective in stopping illegal immigrants or drugs. Half of illegal immigrants are estimated to simply overstay legal visitor visas, and most drugs come in on trucks, planes or through hidden tunnels.
Nevertheless, his popularity with his base seems strong. Why? That’s where his skills as a con man come to the fore.
He never admits his failures but immediately either blames his opposition or announces a new action that consumes the press — classic bait and switch. He takes credit for the actions of others — e.g, last year’s tax reductions, the details of which were hatched by Congress. When, as it eventually will be, it is exposed as a failure which adds more than $1 trillion to the national debt while enriching the top 1 percent, he will lay the blame on Congress.
His domination of the news hides the fact that his only “accomplishments” so far are negatives — mainly going back on legislation advanced by President Obama. But he is destroying America’s position as leader of the free world.
Approval of the U.S. resident has slumped from 70-plus percent (for Obama) among NATO allies, to 28 percent in the UK, 10 percent in Germany and 9 percent in France.
Traditionally, con men in the USA were ridden out of town on a rail. I’d be happy if Trump left on a golf cart.
Frank Fish, Park City, was born to a working-class family in England, studied mathematics in college, was a Fulbright Scholar and worked as an information systems consultant in the U.S., U.K., Italy and France before retiring.