COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 11, 2016 — Donald Trump likes his own advice. The author of “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” and presumptive Republican nominee for the presidency is applying his rules for successful living and business to his outsider campaign.
Yet many political insiders and members of the media have made sport of his campaign.
“Trump is an immigrant bashing carnival barker,” said former presidential candidate Martin O’Malley.
“A plague has descended on the party in the form of the most successful demagogue-charlatan in the history of U.S. politics,” said Robert Kagan, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and contributing columnist, in The Washington Post.
“We’ve got a debate inside the other party that is fantasy and schoolyard taunts and selling stuff like it’s the Home Shopping Network,” said President Barack Obama.
To the left, anyone of Trump’s wealth and stature is a perfect target for driving home their “life oughta be fair message.” As Obama likes to sermonize,
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own—nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory—and hire someone to protect against this—because of the work the rest of us did.”
Even many inside of Trump’s political party, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and conservative savants Charles Krauthammer and George Will, still suffer from Trump derangement syndrome. There’s no telling whether they’ll come around.
But there’s one thing prognosticators, critics and conservative purists haven’t figured into their defeatist calculus: Nothing succeeds like success. Say what you will about Donald Trump, the man is a huge success. And he wrote the book on it 30 years ago.
In “The Art of the Deal,” Trump enumerates his key elements for achieving success. He advises readers to “think big, protect the downside and the upside will take care of itself, maximize your options, know your market, use your leverage, get the word out, fight back, deliver the goods, contain the costs, and have fun.”
It’s still early to predict ultimate success, but there are early indications that the man who, to many, is the hapless outsider and reality TV star may be cagier than imagined. After the fracas with Fox news commentator Megan Kelly, it was she who called him and went to his office to smoke the peace pipe. She told Kelly Ripa on air,
“After months of him being very unhappy with me, I reached out to him. I had always wanted to reach out to him from the beginning, from the August 6th debate, because I’m a journalist. I want to be on the sidelines. I don’t want to be on the playing field. He kept putting me on the playing field and I just wanted to get past that. But he was so angry for so long, and I didn’t want to reach out to him while he was angry.”
Trump’s immigration position spectacularly offended former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, who famously told Ben Mathis, host of a Kickass Politics podcast in a much quoted remark, “I’m not going to pay for that fucking wall. And please don’t take out the ‘fucking’ full word.”
According to Trump, “A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border; A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced; and, A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.”
A central premise of Trump’s campaign is that he will build a wall between the United States and Mexico to control illegal immigration, and make Mexico pay for it. He cites the extraordinary costs to American taxpayers of uncontrolled immigration, including billions in healthcare, housing, education and welfare, and reminds us the annual cost of free tax credits being paid to illegal immigrants quadrupled to $4.2 billion in 2011.
In the early interview, Fox called Trump an ugly American. “He is the hated gringo because, he’s attacking all of us. He’s offending all of us.”
But that was then, and this is now. With Trump’s recent electoral success, Fox, too, is seeing the light. He walked it back a bit, apologizing for his earlier harsh remarks. Trump responded to the Fox apology to a crowd of 12,000 supporters in Charleston, West Virginia. “I thought it was very nice that he apologized. We’re going to have a great relationship with Mexico, but we need a border.”
In the pantheon of harsh remarks made by Trump on the campaign trail, none perhaps can hold a candle to what he said about Arizona Senator and Hanoi Hilton survivor and war hero John McCain. Politico Magazine’s Jack Shafer reported that Trump “took his running feud to a new level, when he said, ‘He’s not a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.’”
Most Americans would have said that by those remarks, Trump finally went too far. Once again, they’d be mistaken. Because some 10 months later Senator McCain is actually supporting Trump. According to Shafer, “With his senate seat all of a sudden seeming vulnerable, he needs Republican voters to vote for him. With Trump, he hopes to tap into the wave of excitement that seems to follow the Trump campaign everywhere he goes.”
Then why is Trump where he is today? He may be the most controversial presidential candidate of modern times. His persona remains a mystery, but he fascinates us and continues to surprise.
Remarks on his book jacket give us a clue to this shooting star:
The Chicago Tribune said, “Donald Trump is a deal maker. He is a deal maker the way lions are carnivores and water is wet.”
The New York Post calls the book, “A chatty, generous, chutzpa-filled autobiography.”
But the candidate gave the best assessment of himself in words that today seem eerily prescient:
“I like thinking big. I always have. To me it’s very simple. If you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big. In my life, there are two things I’ve found I’m very good at: overcoming obstacles and motivating good people to do their best work. One of the challenges ahead is how to use those skills as successfully in the service of others as I’ve done, up to now, on my own behalf. Don’t get me wrong. I also plan to keep making deals, big deals, and right around the clock.”