“I believe in benevolent dictatorship provided I am the dictator.” Billionaire Richard Branson, who just sold Virgin America air lines to Alaska Air for $2 billion, said that. President Harry S Truman said “when you have an efficient government, you have a dictatorship.”
Trump is a dictator–a benevolent one, that is, if you agree with him. And he would rule over a tyranny of the peasants. Trump’s presidential slogan is inscribed on the Monsters, Inc. plant:
“we scare because we care.”
To Trump, we (who are not super-rich, politically connected, or part of his mingling class) are peasants. And he is the benevolent dictator.
On Sunday, New York Magazine ran a giant spread of Trump being Trump. His campaign is a lean operation, employing basically zero political insiders in the core group, who were chosen based first on their loyalty to Trump, and second on their ability to do what Trump says and understand his ways.
Trump’s campaign employs a core team of about a dozen people; his campaign lists 94 people on the payroll nationwide, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filing (Hillary Clinton has 765). Trump has no pollsters, media coaches, or speechwriters. He focus-groups nothing. He buys few ads, and when he does, he likes to write them himself. He also writes his own tweets, his main vehicle for communicating with his supporters. And it was his idea to adopt Ronald Reagan’s slogan “Make America Great Again!”
This is Trump’s national campaign headquarters, crammed into the 5th floor of his glitzy and gilded Manhattan Trump Tower.
I left the ostentatious glitz of the lobby and took the elevator to the fifth floor, where two unmarked frosted-glass doors open onto a raw-concrete space with electrical wires and pipes hanging from the ceiling. Sheets of plywood were stacked haphazardly against the walls; plastic buckets and garbage cans were scattered across the floor. It looked like an abandoned construction site. In an unfinished room, I counted seven 20-somethings sitting at scuffed wooden desks and plastic foldout tables. Trump memorabilia festooned the walls.
Trump’s strategy? Wing it and win, and keep the peasants happy. But before he can be the benevolent dictator, he has to win, and winning means doing anything it takes. Bob Woodward (BW) and Robert Costa (RC) at The Washington Post conducted a long, wide-ranging interview with Trump (DT) published Monday.
Bringing out rage is just a part of Trump’s strategy to win. Don’t worry, after he’s won, the rage will somehow go away and be replaced with Kumbayah.
BW: In the Republican Party, I mean . . . there is a lot of angst and rage and distress.
DT: A lot. Record-setting.
DT: I bring…
BW: And you have to tame that rage, don’t you?
DT: Yes, yes, but I bring that out in people. I do. I’m not saying that’s an asset or a liability, but I do bring that out.
BW: You bring what out?
DT: I bring rage out. I do bring rage out. I always have. I think it was . . . . I don’t know if that’s an asset or a liability, but whatever it is, I do. I also bring great unity out, ultimately. I’ve had many occasions like this, where people have hated me more than any human being they’ve ever met. And after it’s all over, they end up being my friends. And I see that happening here. But when my wife and Ivanka and the rest of my family, for the most part — Tiffany, my daughter, she’s a very smart young woman, she’s up at University of Pennsylvania doing great — and she said to me the same thing.
BW: Be presidential?
DT: Be presidential. Now . . . .
Being presidential comes later, after the country has torn itself to shreds. Don’t worry, you’ll love him.
DT: My — yes, always to fight. My natural inclination is to win. And after I win, I will be so presidential that you won’t even recognize me. You’ll be falling asleep, you’ll be so bored.
Trump sells himself on his “natural instinct” for deals. Either you believe he’s got that or not. It’s not experience (he doesn’t hire campaign staff based on experience and doesn’t put a lot of weight on it), it’s literally je ne sais quoi.
BW: So you are really pessimistic, to say the least?
DT: I’m pessimistic. Unless changes are made. Changes could be made.
BW: Could you fix it? Next year, if you became president?
DT: Yes, I can fix it. I can fix it pretty quickly.
BW: Okay. Tell us that.
DT: When I was at your editorial board meeting, I talked about NATO. And I’m not a world expert on NATO. But I have a natural instinct for certain things, okay? Like I said, keep the oil. Well, now ISIS has the oil. I said a lot of things. I said in my book about — written in 2000 — mentioned Bin Laden in a paragraph or two. And that was two years before the World Trade Center came down. And I’m not a politician, I was . . . .
DT: And by the way, and renegotiate with NATO. And renegotiate with Japan and with…
RC: On trade deals, dealing with a company, on your business deals, when you study them, it’s dealing with people and corporations.
DT: And I’m negotiating over 100 deals. We’re negotiating 114 deals.
RC: But aren’t deals with countries and foreign leaders different than the kind of transactions you do at the corporate level? And how do you make that transition?
RC: Because you can’t say to a country, I’m going to sue you.
DT: No. Well, you know, it depends on what your definition of “sue” is. We will be able to make great trade deals. It’ll be good for the counties, it will be good for us.
BW: How long will it take? A year? Two years?
DT: It will go. . . . Yeah, I would say within the first year a lot of it will be done.
There it is. Within a year, Trump said he’ll have all these deals renegotiated, personally. Only to do it, he has to be the dictator. And we are the peasants–we’ll eventually come around to worship Trump.
Trump has never run a manufacturing business. He’s never run a bank. He’s never run anything but real estate development, hotels and casinos. Not all businessmen are bad politicians (for example, look at Georgia Sen. David Perdue, formerly CEO of Dollar General and Reebok), but someone with only one dimension of experience like Trump will almost certainly be terrible in the Oval Office.
From New York Magazine:
By all accounts, Trump doesn’t seek much counsel beyond his staff and children. There is, of course, his circle of declared foreign-policy advisers whom no one had heard of, but it’s unclear how much he talks to those he cites publicly. Carl Icahn told me that Trump didn’t call him before he invoked his name as a potential Cabinet member. “I saw one day he was on TV talking about making Carl Icahn secretary of the Treasury,” Icahn said. “I’m certainly not going to be Treasury secretary.”
Can you imagine a bunch of inexperienced 20-somethings running the West Wing? That’s a Trump presidency. He writes his own tweets, do you think he’ll let anyone write his speeches? Do you think he’ll let anyone make a decision on their own without his micromanaging? His businesses are run by his sons and staff he’s had for decades.
“I’m the writer,” Trump said. “Let me start with Little Marco. He just looked like Little Marco to me. And it’s not Little. It’s Liddle. L-I-D-D-L-E. And it’s not L-Y-I-N-G Ted Cruz. It’s L-Y-I-N apostrophe. Ted’s a liar, so that was easy.”
Wow, that’s some amazing prose. I bet it would work well with Kim Jong Un or Ayatollah Khamenei.
In Trump’s world, if you’re not on Trump’s inside, you’re a peasant. If you’re a politician (defined as someone else who has to run for election), you’re a pawn, a tool, or an enemy. Take your pick. On a given day, you could be all three (the late Mayor Ed Koch, who famously sparred and alternately chummed with Trump, knew this well).
This is how he is, and he’s not going to change. There will be no “acting presidential.” There will be no great healing and national unity. It will just be more of what you see today.
Those who place their faith and trust in Trump will be sorely disappointed. He doesn’t know how to get them their jobs back. He doesn’t know how to improve their lives. He doesn’t know how to heal the wounds he created while he wins.
And when the proverbial fecal matter hits the fan, everyone who helped elect Trump and later disagrees with the dictator will get exactly what’s coming to them.
But the good news is: Trump will not be president. Someone else will have to heal the wounds he created. And Trump will move on to wherever winners who don’t win go.