The Enigmatic Donald Trump

by Paul R. Hollrah –

Would I bet serious money that neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton will continue to be presidential candidates on Election Day 2016?  No, I might bet $10 or $20 they won’t, but bet the family farm?  No, that would be too much of a gamble because, while I may be reading the political tea leaves correctly, I could also be terribly wrong.

Donald Trump was never cut out to be a presidential candidate.  In fact, to watch him campaign on a day-to-day basis one wonders if he might be actually trying to elect Hillary Clinton.  No man or woman with serious ambitions for the presidency would ever say or do the things that Trump says and does on almost a daily basis.

I don’t agree with Hillary Clinton on much of anything, but when she claims that Donald Trump does not have the temperament to be president of the United States I have to concede the point… and Trump tries every day to prove her right.

In fact, if the American people had hired an executive search firm to prepare a list of the top 1,000 Democrats and the top 1,000 Republicans, those most capable of serving as president of the United States, it’s almost a dead certainty that the names Obama, Clinton, and Trump would not appear on that list.

Not only is Trump unattractive, physically, he has a most unattractive personality.  If he were an average man with a modest net worth he would never have had women named Ivana, Marla, and Melania in his life.  Nor would he have many male friends.

Most men are very much aware of the shortcomings of other men and tend to recognize the “warts” that other men possess.  To put it bluntly, men find boorishness, boastfulness, and misplaced egocentricity to be most unattractive in other men and they generally avoid others with those characteristics.

From the time he first entered the presidential primaries on June 15, 2015, Trump has been a perfect example of how not to attract supporters.  His speaking style can best be described as “underwhelming.”  Instead of making his political points firmly and objectively, in a forceful but modulated tone, he has a tendency to scream and shout at his audiences… his face beet red and his eyes bulging.  However, sometime during the week of August 8, 2016, someone in his organization must have coached him a bit on his delivery.  As a result, when he spoke before the National Association of Home Builders on August 11, his delivery was so low-key that he appeared to be falling asleep at the podium.  If he has any hope of winning in November he will have to find a middle ground.

There are men such as Dr. Myles Martel who could work wonders with Trump if allowed to do so.  As the nation’s premier leadership communications advisor, Martel has coached countless political leaders, including presidential candidates, governors, senators, ambassadors and cabinet members, as well as heads of major corporations and professional organizations.  But the question arises, is Donald Trump coachable?  Is he capable of taking good advice?  His actions to date would seem to indicate that it would be easier to turn a supertanker around in a backyard swimming pool than to convince Trump that “being himself” is a certain prescription for defeat.  Trump clearly adores himself just as he is.  It matters little to him that more than 300 million people who have a major stake in his political success or failure might feel otherwise.

However, in his August 8 speech before the Detroit Economic Club, Trump appeared to be falling in line with longstanding Republican principles.  He reminded his audience that, “When we abandoned the policy of America First, we started rebuilding other countries instead of our own.  The skyscrapers went up in Beijing, and in many other cities around the world, while the factories and neighborhoods crumbled in Detroit.  Our roads and bridges fell into disrepair, yet we found the money to resettle millions of refugees at taxpayer expense.”

In order to turn our economy around and provide much-needed jobs, Trump proposed an across-the-board income tax reduction, especially for middle-income Americans; a simplification of the federal tax code; a reduction in the number of tax brackets to just three (12%, 25%, and 33%); a maximum corporate tax rate of 15%; a child-care deduction for working parents; the repatriation of trillions of dollars of business profits now deposited overseas; elimination of the “death tax;” and a temporary moratorium on new federal regulations.  He also promised to develop a list of all regulations imposed by federal agencies which are not necessary, do not improve public safety, and which needlessly kill jobs.  He said, “Those regulations will be eliminated.”

During the week of August 14 he appeared to continue his turnaround and he left his detractors with a bit of hope.  In three speeches in which he covered national security, the fight against international terrorism, the economy, and race relations, he read from a teleprompter and actually began to sound presidential.

Addressing the Obama/Clinton approach to radical Islamic terrorism, Trump was right on target.  He said, “Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of radical Islam.  All actions should be oriented around this goal, and any country which shares this goal will be our ally.  We cannot always choose our friends, but we can never fail to recognize our enemies.”

As a matter of policy in a Trump Administration, he proposed bringing to an end the era of nation-building.  He said, “As President, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal.  We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel.  We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished.”

On the subject of immigration, he said, “A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people… In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law…

Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country.  To put these new procedures in place, we will have to temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism…

“Finally, we will pursue aggressive criminal or immigration charges against anyone who lends material support to terrorism…  To accomplish a goal, you must state a mission: the support networks for radical Islam in this country will be stripped out and removed one by one.  Immigration officers will also have their powers restored.  Those who are guests in our country that are preaching hate will be asked to return home.”

Then, in an August 19th speech in Dimondale, Michigan, Trump charged boldly into waters that other Republicans have been far too cowardly to enter in the past 60 or 70 years.  Speaking directly to the African-American community, he said, “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed… What the hell do you have to lose?”  It is a question that is long overdue in the American political arena and Trump is to be commended for his willingness to raise the issue.

But then, in a most un-presidential tirade, he renewed his long-running feud with former congressman Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, co-hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe program.  Following some unflattering comments made by Morning Joe guests, Trump just couldn’t resist the temptation to respond.  In his tweet he threatened to expose details of Scarborough and Brzezinski’s longtime romantic relationship, referring to the two of them as “clowns” and describing Ms. Brzezinski as “off the wall, a neurotic, and not very bright mess.”

If Trump is unable to ignore criticism from political commentators on a failing network with dismal ratings, how would he ever manage to deal with the same steady drumbeat of criticism directed at Barack Obama on a daily basis?

In an August 25 column by Caroline Glick, she took issue with those who say the presidential race is over and that Clinton has won.  In reply, she said, “the ‘official campaign’ won’t begin until September 26, when Clinton and Trump face off in their first presidential debate.  Clinton is not a stellar debater and Trump, a seasoned entertainer, excels in these formats.

I believe that Glick is seriously mistaken and that the exact opposite is true.  Clinton is a skilled debater and will be armed with all the necessary facts and figures to make her positions at least sound plausible to liberals and Democrats, while Trump has shown himself to be a skilled gutter-fighter with only a rudimentary grasp of the issues… capable of reversing himself on important policy issues on almost a daily basis.  If he attempts to use the same approach to Clinton that he used in his many debates with his Republican opponents, Clinton will wipe the floor with him.  The one thing that Trump has going for him is that he has tapped into the issues that most Americans are concerned about.  And while a clear majority of Americans agree with what he has to say on the major issues, they also wish that someone else was carrying that message.

What it all boils down to is this: If Donald Trump wins a majority of the electoral votes on November 8, we can all refer to him as our next president.  Conversely, if Hilary Clinton wins a majority of the electoral votes we will all be correct in referring to her as our last president.  If she is elected in November, the final days of this great experiment in self-government will be numbered.  | August 27, 2016

Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College.  He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.

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