The stumbles of the Trump presidency are real-world evidence of how ill equipped Trump is to govern a nation.
After watching the press conference on Feb. 16, anyone who still thinks that Trump, Steve Bannon and his administration are effective are blinded by the branding and the glitter of the gold of the TRUMPTM brand. Trump had been the king of the tabloids and underbelly of New York’s elite for much longer than people realize.
His name has slid its tendrils into our culture. He is everywhere, from Trump’s cameo in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, to his appearance on World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). It is inescapable. During my first year philosophy seminar, my professor shared the film Crimes and Misdemeanors, (1989) in which Trump’s name is mentioned in passing. This caused a mild tittering among my class. The remark in question is about “a wealthy builder always trying to realize grandiose dreams a la Donald Trump.”
Anyone who has ever watched TV knows that everyone loves to talk about Trump, especially now that he is the most powerful man on the planet. But even in the months leading up to the election, whether they were bashing him or praising him, Trump was on every pundit’s lips on every network. Because whatever Trump was, he definitely wasn’t bad television. TRUMPTM was most certainly not bad television.
TRUMPTM didn’t happen overnight. We all ate it up for 15 years on The Apprentice while he simultaneously honed his ability to ham it up for cameras and gorge on the attention he so craved. Does it seem surprising for that same man to hold a campaign victory tour? Does it seem surprising that as president, his morning briefing comes from watching Fox News’ morning program? Is it surprising that this president loves the instant gratification from every “like” his tweet gets? TRUMPTM is about one thing — money and fame. Hopefully he has enough money to sate his appetites. His fame is more support for the classic admonition “be careful what you wish for” now no one will stop talking about him, and most of it isn’t good.
People are shocked by how little TRUMPTM knows about government particularly policy. Trump knows what he needs to know. He knows exactly how to get his name in print or his face on screen. Somehow along the way he got elected president. But that’s not what he wants. Trump thought he did, but the difference is analogous to the difference between ambition and the desire for attention.
His need for attention is what made him famous. When Trump was just a D-list celebrity, he was so desperate to get his name in print he would cold call reporters under various aliases, pretending he was a spokesman for Trump’s organization simply so that he could share details about his life and boast about himself freely and at length. Not really surprising behavior for a man who puts his name in gold on skyscrapers.
TRUMPTM doesn’t care about healthcare. TRUMPTM cares about his daughter’s Nordstrom’s clothing line. TRUMPTM doesn’t care about travel bans. TRUMPTM cares whether or not people talk about him and whether or not they are supportive.
But governing? TRUMPTM doesn’t seem to care much for all that.
Trump the man is very similar to TRUMPTM.
The shiny golden “Trump” emblazoned on his buildings is just a thin veneer. It’s hollow, propped up by smaller, stronger iron and steel bars. It is most certainly not an integral part of the structure of the building, and it definitely shouldn’t be.