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Tuesday
Jan242017

Trump the Megalomaniac

The first four days in office is too early to evaluate Donald Trump’s presidency. The only thing that seems clear is that he has remained true to the person we witnessed running for office. He is still as concerned with his ego as he has ever been, obsessing about crowd size at the inauguration and the results of the popular vote in the election. He is still willing to lie, claiming, either directly or through his spokespeople, that his inauguration crowd was the largest ever and that 2-3 million votes were cast illegally in the election—both claims demonstrably false. His falsehoods, as well as his need to repeat them while in the eye of the press, even calling a special press briefing with his press secretary to make the claim about inauguration crowd size, have been accompanied by complaints against the media for distorting the facts.  None of this is new. It is a repeat of Trump’s behavior during the campaign. Yes, the willingness to distort facts (or, in the words of Kellyanne Conway, to present “alternative facts”) is ominous and rightly compared to the techniques of information manipulation used by Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984. But whether this tendency to lie will extend beyond issues of Trump’s ego, and into issues of substance, as it often did in the campaign, is yet to be seen.

As an executive, we have seen Trump display confidence, decisiveness and boldness, as well as showmanship. He signed executive orders related to the Affordable Care Act (an order which may or may not have any actual effect), and the TPP, from which he withdrew U.S. participation, and he reinstated the so-called “Mexico City Policy,” which restricts funding of foreign NGOs for abortion services (a policy also instated by all previous Republican presidents since Reagan). Trump met with congressional leaders from both parties and with business and union leaders. All the meetings included cameras present, so we caught a glimpse (or a show) of how he acts in such situations. With congressional leaders he bragged and complained about the unfair votes in the election, with business leaders he offered carrots and sticks: slashing of government regulations and lowering of corporate tax rates, but border taxes for importing their products made outside of the country. With unions he promised more manufacturing jobs as a result of his work with the business leaders. The photo ops provided a picture of Trump the dealmaker but also Trump the authoritarian. They also provided a picture of Trump the pragmatist as opposed to Trump the conservative, though most of his cabinet picks reflect a strong conservative bent.

Whether any of these early glimpses of Trump the president represent anything real, or just stances he wishes to offer to shore up his image is anyone’s guess. The major policy decision was with regard to TPP, but his action simply reflected a decision already made by congress and both political parties (though over objections by congressional leaders such as Schumer, Ryan and McCain). What comes across loud and clear is that Trump will treat presidential decision making as reality TV. He will make more pronouncements than decisions and project an image of the tough, no-nonsense CEO who now has access to the ultimate hammer of power to cause his opponents to kowtow. He may not fear bending both truth and laws in the process.

So far, only four days into his presidency, Trump has been a megalomaniac showman, just as he has always been. How that stance will be translated into policy making is still mostly unknown.

 

Reader Comments (3)

Of course he's a megalomaniac. It's his most important quality. It makes him a total badass, which is the primary attitude needed to keep this country safe.

January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDale C.

TTP may be the most important from your viewpoint, Casey, but I see his reinstatement of the gag rule about family planning internationally as a spiteful act against the global women's marches. This will have horrible effects worldwide; where women can't control their reproduction, misery ensues. Also, from the point of view of climate change, human-population VOLUNTARY control is the solution to the major impact of humans on climate change.

January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnca Vlasopolos

I really appreciate your attention to detail, Casey. I'm in the process of editing my blog from 2009: "Barack Obama's First 100 Days - and OURS!" when I decided I should add more of President Obama's actions as they paralleled my story of getting through that 100 days while my husband was laid off. Look what I found yesterday (2017) about what happened on the same day 8 years ago: The Mexico City Policy! January 23, 2009 - "President Obama ENDS THE FUNDING BAN for groups that provide abortion services or counseling abroad, also known as the "gag rule" or the Mexico City Policy" This is on the same day that Trump REINSTATED the ban plus new restrictions, I understand. Interesting. I really don't understand why we should be banning NGO in doing work they deem important in other countries, but I am not well-informed on this issue.
Did you see my link to George Lakoff (cognitive linguist Berkeley?) I think you'll like it. https://georgelakoff.com/2017/01/22/the-womens-marches-and-the-politics-of-care-the-best-response-to-trumps-inaugural-address/
I'm listening for any positives and trying to # tweets about Congressional action that can be reinforced.
RE: the personality of Trump, I like Maya Angelo's quote. “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time." People knew he was a business man and wanted that dynamic. We also know that Government is about the people and business is about profit. Will the authoritarian business paradigm work? - a great question, but a very risky experiment.

January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBillie Kelpin

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