Donald Trump’s Character: II A “Tolerant” Pushy Promoter
That should be a title to get attention. Pushy? OK. Promoter? OK. But tolerant? Who am I kidding?
Let me begin with the pushy part. Again, I did a search though all my collection of articles. Not one writer called him “pushy”. Bully, yes, but pushy no. Why? The writers do not even dub him brash and bold, obnoxious or presumptuous. Donald Trump called Meghan McCain, the host of “America Now,” “obnoxious,” but no one seems to have pinned this label on Donald Trump. Even such milder descriptors as self-assertive and ambitious do not seem to have been used much applied to Donald, not at all in my limited knowledge.
At first sight, one would think that any of these descriptors would fit Donald Trump perfectly. Though not applied directly to Donald Trump, Trump University officials during its existence between 2005 and 2010 were dubbed pushy for their sales tactics in getting students to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a non-credited so-called university. They promised students access to the tools and strategies Trump used to make millions in the real estate market. (See http://paxonbothhouses.blogspot.com/2016/06/compendium-of-pax-posts-about-trump.html) Those employees did not advertise that they were teaching them a central trait in the Trump repertoire, pushiness, which they daily demonstrated in their recruitment techniques.
Stronger court charges – two before federal courts and a third in a state court – go far beyond “pushing” and allege the techniques used to recruit students were deceptive, predatory, unscrupulous and fraudulent as the representatives of Trump University allegedly hustled a Gold Elite Package costing $34,995. The promotional booklet provided to the university’s sales force reminded them that, if a potential client started focusing on cost, then shift the conversation to the image of “Trump as the best.” This is almost the same way his presidential campaign is run, only he has to assert it himself instead of one of his lackeys. But Trump himself is rarely labeled “pushy.”
Not only that, but it was Donald Trump who filed a charge of assault against a female reporter who was pushed by Trump’s then campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, against whom David Aronberg, State Attorney for Palm Beach County, decided not to press charges. The reporter, however, was charged in a civil suit launched by Donald Trump for being “pushy.” Perhaps Ted Cruz came closest to calling Donald Trump pushy when he accused Trump of promoting “New York Values,” interpreted as a euphemism for Jewish values, a group historically identified with being pushy. Cops were called pushy when dealing with Trump protesters, but not only was Teflon Trump not so charged, but virtually no one tried to stick him with the label. Perhaps mild-mannered Ben Carson, the former neurosurgeon and other outsider in the race to become the Presidential candidate, tried very indirectly when he insisted that he, Ben, would not be “pushed” out of the race as his poll numbers kept dropping.
Or perhaps, even as the electorate grew increasingly exacerbated by Trump’s incivility and even crudity, especially in response to criticisms from a Muslim American war hero, they were too polite to call Donald Trump “pushy” even when he ejected a mother and her baby from a recent rally. “Get the baby out of here.” He first said he loved babies when the crying distracted him from his speech. “Don’t worry about that baby – I love babies. I love babies. I hear that baby crying, I like it. What a baby, what a beautiful baby. Don’t worry, don’t worry. The mom’s running around, like, don’t worry about it, you know? It’s young and beautiful and healthy and that’s what we want.” After he subsequently asked that the mother and baby be ejected, he reversed positions and stated that he had been sarcastic when he said he welcomed babies crying, “Actually, I was only kidding – you can get the baby out of here. That’s all right, don’t worry. I think she really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking. That’s OK. People don’t understand. That’s OK.”
And that is his pattern. Initially tolerant and loving. Then determined and, yes, pushy. Then he asserts that people misunderstood when he said he loved babies. If babies cried and disrupted his speech, his so-called love is thrown out the window and he re-describes, what everyone listening interpreted as a sincere assertion of love, as a statement of sarcasm. One psychiatric observer suggested that Donald Trump was not a psychopath, but consideration should be given as to whether he is manic and bipolar, but that might be considered an insult to individuals who are.
The one who came closest to calling Donald Trump pushy was his own son, Donald Trump Jr., who in his Republican Convention address with the “bearing of a pushy (my italics) bond trader with slicked-back hair,” as one commentator described him, referred to his father’s “true grit.” This was not quite the same as “pushy,” but as close as anyone I read came to calling Donald Trump Sr. “pushy.” True grit was perhaps a more appropriate phrase often given its very positive connotation in American Western folklore and put on the wide screen in a Cohen brothers’ 2010 film of the same name starring Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin. The movie is a tale of vengeance, but also guts and determination. But mostly it was about never giving up. And that is Donald Trump – vengeful against those who do not give him full support and gutsy and determined even as he has already started making excuses for his coming loss as his erratic behaviour increasingly registers with voters and especially Republican voters. “The system is rigged.” The irony that court rulings have now declared in three cases that in some states the electoral system has been rigged, but not against Donald Trump, but against Black Americans increasingly denied access to the ballot box because they overwhelmingly will not vote for a current Republican candidate in the party ironically founded by Abraham Lincoln, the President who issued the declaration against slavery.
Donald Trump Jr. gave that pushiness and determination a plebeian twist as he described his father hobnobbing with the construction crews, having them teach his kids to drive caterpillars and promoting blue collar workers based on their merits rather than their degrees. “He (Trump Sr.) valued their opinions as much and often more than the guys from Harvard and Wharton locked away in offices, away from the real work.” So Donald Trump pushed downward as well as up. But at his core, he was a “kid from Queens” invading the holy grail of Manhattan carrying the mantle of insecurity and determination of an outsider as he pushed his way in and up while apparently genuinely sharing in the resentments that he recognized in the workers in the rust belt of America, in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
I have described Donald Trump as pushy even though very few even imply such a characteristic and even though The Donald wears that label proudly on his sleeve. However, he is much more clearly a promoter. I have myself described him as promoting a nativist, isolationist, anti-trade agenda. His current campaign manager, Paul Manafort, recently “promoted” to that position, had been a paid promoter of Viktor Yanukovych in the Ukraine, who, in spite of twice being convicted of assault when he was young and losing the position of prime minister, Manafort orchestrated his return to office in 2007 after successfully whitewashing the image of Ukraine as a haven for mobsters, while at the same time managing to develop a number of lucrative side deals for himself.
I would argue that no term suits Donald Trump and his team more than “promoter.” On this there is no shortage of writers who share applying this term to Donald Trump. They may argue whether he is more ambitious in promoting himself than in promoting his suitability to be president, but whatever he does, he is a promoter. I do not know whether Paul Manafort has been a conduit to obtain Russian money for investment in Trump’s enterprises, but given the pro-Putin Trump comments and Trump’s position on the Ukraine (“the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.”), one has to be, at the very least, suspicious. This is especially true given all his contradictory statements on Putin and the Ukraine in his recent interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC. (Yes, the same George who used to be on CBC.) “He’s (Putin’s) not going into Ukraine, okay, just so you understand. He’s not gonna go into Ukraine, all right?” and then less than a minute later admitting that Putin had already taken over a part of Ukraine and then denying, though again previously suggesting, that Putin might also have forces in Eastern Ukraine.
Given the vast disparities in the campaign chests of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, about an enormous 30:1 ratio, Matt Tracy queried whether Trump genuinely wanted to win or whether he was just after free PR for himself. For he is certainly best at being an advertisement for himself in Norman Mailer’s old phrase than a promoter of specific policies and remedies to deal with America’s ills. He is noteworthy for his tiny staff, his personal desire to be everywhere on virtually any media – though he currently boycotts CNN.
He does have some diehard publicists and apologists (Jeffrey Lord and Kayleigh McEnany) who appear on CNN. They seem to remain attached to him because they engage in the same type of push-back employed by their hero. Kayleigh tried to explain away Donald Trump’s suggestion that, if his daughter were faced with the sexual harassment by his friend Roger Aries of Fox News, he would advise his daughter, Ivanka, to find a new career. He would not, evidently, go into battle to insist his daughter retain her job and that Roger Aries find a new career.
How did Kayleigh explain not standing up for women’s rights? “I mean I think that that’s the same advice my father would probably give me. It’s the same advice I would give to my sister. Get away from the situation. If someone is harassing you, if someone’s being aggressive, move jobs, get away from the situation.” Instead of admitting to Donald Trump’s own past record of repeated misogyny, or even her own effort to undercut women’s efforts to insist on their rights, she reinforced the notion that any loving father would advise his daughter to flee and surrender her rights. Kayleigh aggressively insisted that Donald Trump was just saying what any father, any loving father – what her own father – would advise. But I assure Kayleigh that I have never given and would not give my daughters such advice. That is not because of any lack of love, but because I respect them as women and think the victimizer not the victim should search for another job.
But all these are mere clues as to how Donald Trump behaves and speaks as a self-promoter. What a better way to sell yourself to working stiffs – limit the monies paid out to policy wonks and consultants. He relies on tweets rather than campaign ads and has evidently allocated $0 for campaign ads in August, September and October. He has not been able to tap into Bernie Sanders legion of small contributors that overwhelmed Hillary Clinton’s fund raising efforts and, on the other hand, he is unable to draw much money from other Republican plutocrats given his record of name-calling, hateful and divisive rhetoric. How will he get out the vote without a ground team in place?
But these are not the only questions about whether he is a successful promoter. Given that he has dissed his way to the position of Republican candidate, insulting Mexicans as murderers and rapists while using America’s guest worker programs to staff his own enterprises, given that he threw suspicions on all Muslims and even disparaged the parents of a war hero, the targets of personal abuse are in the hundreds and the abuses hurled out are in the thousands, probably tens of thousands. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have not even been the prime recipients.
For example, where was Donald Trump in the aftermath of the Orlando mass shooting just after he fired his campaign manager and at a time when the Brexit results were to be announced? In his first foreign trip during his campaign, he was flying by helicopter to re-open his luxury refurbished golf course on the west coast, Trump Turnberry, with suites that rent for four figures per night. He was then airlifted to a promotional tour of his east coast of Scotland property near Aberdeen, where he has fought with and denigrated the Scottish “commoners” who objected to his expansionist plans.
Promoter is Donald Trump’s middle name. It should be “pushy promoter,” but, unlike Donald Trump, most of the rest of America is committed to civil discourse even as Donald Trump disparages self-discipline in talking and speaking as “politically correct speech,” a boundary he deliberately crosses. In his own Republican Convention speech he showed that he could occasionally discipline himself and engage in that same “politically correct speech.” I suspect that most of my readers will have little trouble with most of the above assertions, and may even grant that Donald Trump can be civil when he chooses, but describing Donald Trump as “tolerant” appears to be a world too far.
One reader took me to task for suggesting that Mussolini’s fascism had been tolerant while another reminded me that Antonio Gramsci was put in jail by the Italian fascists and died in a clinic a few days after his scheduled release. That reader endorsed the views of Robert Kagan (Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute) that Donald Trump is the epitome of intolerance. If you don’t jump on board his “victory train,” as Chris Christie did, then equivocators – those like Republican Majority Leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Paul Ryan, Republican, first congressional district in Wisconsin and speaker in the House of Representatives – will be crushed. Donald Trump is totally intolerant on this score.
Though Ryan, after much hesitation, endorsed Donald Trump, presumably to foster party unity, the endorsement has been tepid – he barely referred to Trump in his convention speech. He has also been critical. Ryan defended Khizir Khan, the Muslim father of the American war hero, and rejected religious tests for entry into America.
Donald Trump responded with his usual full volley attack and announced that he would not endorse Paul Ryan as the Republican candidate in the first district in Wisconsin. If he is that hard on critical endorsers, what can one expect of his response to fence sitters, to war heroes and former presidential standard-bearer, John McCain, who openly rather than by implication criticized Trump. And what about Republicans like Representative Richard Hanna, Republican House of Representatives from New York, who announced he would vote for the Democratic Party candidate, Hillary Clinton and called Donald Trump “unfit to serve.” Whether you are an equivocator, fence-sitter, critic or open opponent in the Republican party, expect the wrath of Donald Trump to come down on your head. Hardly a sign of tolerance. And certainly a sign of at least being a cousin to fascism. So how can the adjective “tolerant” be applied to Donald Trump? In what sense can he be called a tolerant promoter? Trump clearly does not read, even J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, for that might lead him to vote against himself since a University of Pennsylvania study found you were likely to become more tolerant, more opposed to violence and resistant to authoritarianism, if you read even one of the Harry Potter series.
Well, relative to the community conservatives in Donald Trump’s party, he is quite tolerant – favouring accommodation for transgender individuals in their use of bathrooms (he openly opposed the discriminatory North Carolina legislation). Though he bashes Mexican and Islamic immigrants, I do not see that he does so on racist lines, but he is an anti-immigrant nativist and a law and order candidate. These platform approaches supposedly give him permission to demonize these groups and appeal to the downwardly mobile white middle class worker. Economic (however wrong, even silly) and physical self-protection dictate his stands, not racism.
With the help of Alex Zisman