Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Politics of Donald Trump: Where Ignorance and Arrogance Collide

by Nomad

The other day, Donald Trump accidentally revealed his shocking ignorance of the US political system. It shouldn't have surprised anybody.

Despite all of Trump's self-aggrandizing boasts, the real question is why anybody in their right mind would take his advice about anything.

Whom Trump Really Loves

When mogul Donald Trump endorses his favorite politician it must be a very a mixed blessing and a dubious honor to be the object of his affection. If Mr.Trump loves anybody in this world (and that's iffy) it is only Donald Trump. A Trump endorsement serves only one purpose: to attract much more attention to Trump. 

In the case of Senator Mitch McConnell, Trump managed to turn the benefit of a high profile endorsement into just another case of Trump making a jackass of himself before the whole dang world. 

Trump's obvious attempt to slag McConnell's challenger, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, spectacularly backfired the other day. Trump tweeted:

Unfortunately, for Trump (and the rest of the nation) McConnell is a Senator, not a Congressman, as Trump seems to think. Somebody should have told Trump that Congress is composed of two houses of Congress and .. oh, never mind, Trump would have probably nodded his frizzy uncooperative head, blinked back and fired an unpaid intern.

The problem is that it's so much harder to blame your underlings when you have tweeted something awfully dumb like this. (Rick Perry just said his stupid tweet was "unauthorized" and left it to our imaginations.)

What kind of excuse can he make for his obvious ignorance about the fundamentals of US politics? On the other hand, Trump has never let stupid mistakes or dumb remarks (or bad hair days) stop him plowing on towards the next dumb thing.   

Trump loves to dole out sage advice. It makes him seem important. He thinks. Mr. Trump spends all day thinking up precious gems like this:
Part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something that's more productive.
In fact, this could be perfect advice to give Senator McConnell. 

Being a winner is something that Trump pretends to know all about but in fact, his record isn't particularly impressive.

In 2011, TIME Magazine came out with a partial list of Donald Trump's flops. The story of Trump Airlines is instructive because it shows how much Trump's ego has over the years adversely affected his judgment. 

A Case Study of Trump's Problem

In October 1988, Donald Trump purchased Eastern Air Shuttle for roughly $365 million. What that bought him was a fleet of 17 Boeing 727s, landing facilities in three cities, (Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C.) and- probably the most important feature- "the right to paint his name on an airplane." One source gives this lovely bit of gossip:
"He got upset with the first paint jobs because the T wasn't big enough," said Ray Belz, who was vice-chairman of the Trump Shuttle chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association.
Under his control, the airline dumped the no-frills shuttle service in favor of "a luxury experience." A strange idea for such a short haul service. Typical of the Trump ostentation, the airlines was fitted with "maple-wood veneer to the floors, chrome seat-belt latches, and gold-colored bathroom fixtures." 
Bruce Nobles, president of the Trump Shuttle from October 1988 until June 1990, said
"It was a problem: we spent too much money on the airplanes.
Nobles also said of Trump:
"Like a lot of charismatic entrepreneurs, he tended to be intimately involved in a lot of the details, [although] he didn't interfere in the operations per se. He didn't really know much about the airline business.
In fact, Trump had misjudged the market. Few fliers were increased in the new look. The added stress of high fuel prices was another reason that the shuttle went belly up with a sizable debt. Trump defaulted on his loans and the ownership of the airlines eventually ended up in the hands of his creditors. (Even they had problems unloading it.)

The Trump Shuttle was no more by 1992 and at no time, at no time did the venture turn a profit. 

Trump Airlines is one of the best examples of what can happen when arrogance replaces intelligence. All of the problems can only be traced back to the man himself and his overweening ego.
*   *   *
If you ignore all of the showmanship and the endless self-promotion, the Trump story is not all that impressive. Trump's list of stumbles includes his attempted branding of vodka, his bankruptcies, his failed marriages, his coy but ultimately phony flirting with a political career, his colossal mortgages, his casinos and his Monopoly ripoff board game

Yet, with all that flailing and failing, how is it than Donald Trump is so rich?

You Didn't Build This Alone

An Alternet article, citing Brian Miller and Mike Lapham's book The Self-Made Myth: The Truth About How Government Helps Individuals and Businesses Succeed, noted that
Despite what Trump may espouse, his success would have been in no way possible without his father, the general public, and the US government. Unfortunately, Trump decided to forget particularly clear during his brief bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
The book also points out:
From the moment of his birth, Trump was set up for success. The large inheritance left to him by his father, coupled with the contributions and the protections of society and the US government made his ascension to the Forbes 400 list almost inevitable. Nevertheless, Trump fails to recognize this phenomenon and continues to express his belief that he did it alone.
In other words, Trump is an aristocratic rich kid who likes to dress himself as a self-made hero of the little guy. So, his advice on how to make it in the world of business shouldn't be taken too seriously. 
It's actually sort of an inside joke.

With the kind of advantages that Trump was born into, it would have been amazing if he hadn't been well-off.  That's lucky for him because his biggest handicap has been his own personality and his inability to tame his ego. 
And, as this McConnell tweet demonstrates, an inability to understand the fundamentals.