Sunday, 22 January 2017

First comments on the new president.

Donald Trump is now the 45th president of the United States.
Time for a few first comments.
Another title for this post could be, the man who would be Andrew Jackson. 

Donald Trump is a bully. He insults women and mocks people with a handicap.
Not a nice person and certainly no role model for my grandchildren.
Still, being a bully and boorish does not disqualify anybody from becoming president. There have been quite a few successful unsavory presidents. 
President Warren Harding had a very young mistress, Nan Britton, throughout his presidency. She even gave birth to his illegitimate child.
Britton wrote a book about the relationship. One famous passage told of their making love in a coat closet in the executive office of the White House.

Trump does not model himself after Mussolini or Hitler, as some would have you believe, but after the populist president Andrew Jackson.
They have the same temper, but there are differences. Trump gets into twitter fights. Jackson carried a gun and shot people in duels.
Jackson pledged to sweep corruption out of Washington, comparing it to the Herculean task of mucking out a “giant Augean stable.” The pledge has a direct parallel to Trump’s promises to “drain the swamp,”

Trump has the vanity of president John Adams, who was also highly sensitive to criticism, though Adams wanted to be called Emperor and outlaw a free press. Trump has not proposed this.

What does the new President stand for? That depends on who you ask. His trademark is unpredictability.
He is neither a Republican nor a Democrat.
More a cuckoo who nested in the Republican party to become president. He has no coherent political ideology. He is a pragmatist and a wheeler-dealer.

His behavior is not exactly consistant. In the run up to the elections he said Hillary Clinton was a crook who should be locked up.
Now he asks people to give her a standing ovation.

Much has been made of his use of “America first” in his inauguration speech. Some media have even put this in a neo-Nazi context.
He first used the theme in April 2016 arguing that America’s post-Cold War foreign policy had “veered badly off course,” leading to wrongheaded Middle East interventions.
The “America first” approach downgrades the value of America’s global leadership and traditional alliances.
“We defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own, and spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay..”
This is the right context not the neo-Nazi story.

On many issues nobody really knows where Trump stands. That is the way he wants it. It benefits his negotiating position.
I expect using this aura of unpredictability to bully organizations and countries will become a trademark of his administration.

Actually, nothing about Trump is really new, even his unpredictability.  
It used to be called the “madman theory” and was a feature of Richard Nixon's foreign policy. Nixon and his administration tried to make the leaders of hostile Communist Bloc nations think he was irrational and volatile.
According to the theory, those leaders would then avoid provoking the United States, fearing an unpredictable American response.
It worked for president Nixon and it might work for president Trump. Though for Trump it is a negotiating method not a theory.

I think his biggest problem is the internal division in the US. He did not create this, it was evident under Obama.
However, he has exacerbated it. Irrational, volatile and unpredictable do not work well when trying to bridge differences.

If he does not try to heal the divisions, the country may fall apart. 

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