Donald Trump is a piece of work even by New York standards: tall, white, loud, brash, entrepreneurial, successful, rich, ruthlessly candid, well-dressed, and fond of heterosexual women. He has married at least three delicious ladies in fact. Trump has five children and seven grandchildren. Indeed, his progeny are well above average too, smartly groomed, photogenic, and successful to boot.
As far as we know, Donald does not have any tattoos, piercings, unpaid taxes, or under-aged bimbo interns. He is not a drunk or a junkie either. Trump projects and enterprises probably employ more folks than the NYC school system – or the United Nations.
You could say that Trump is living the life, not the life of Riley, but more like big Daddy Warbucks with a comb over. “The Donald,” as one ex-wife calls him, is not just living the American dream. Trump is the dream – and proud of it.
You could do worse than think of Trump as upwardly mobile blue collar. He is the grandson of immigrants and the product of Long island, a Queens household, and a Bronx education. The Donald survived the Jesuits of Fordham University for two years before migrating to finish his baccalaureate at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
When readers of the New York Times, The New Yorker, and the New York Review of Books speak of “the city”, they are not talking about the Queens or the Bronx. Growing and schooling in the blue collar boroughs gives Trump a curb level perspective, something seldom found in Manhattan. Or as any “D” Train alumnus might put it, Trump has “a pretty good Bravo Sierra detector.”
So what’s not to like about Donald Trump? He doesn’t just stay in four star hotels. He builds them. He doesn’t just own luxury condominiums. He makes them. He doesn’t just own historic buildings. He restores them. He doesn’t just eat at the best restaurants. He creates them. He just doesn’t belong to the best country clubs, he builds those too.
And Donald Trump, unlike the Manhattan/Washington fantasy Press and every Beltway political pimp, doesn’t just pay lip service to a bigger and better economy, he creates micro-economies every day.
The only thing we don’t know about Donald Trump is why he would like to immigrate to the District of Columbia.
In any case, the merits of entrepreneurs like Trump might best be defined by the character or motives of his critics. Trump detractors are for the most part “B” list politicians, ambulance chasers, and a left-leaning Press corps that lionizes the likes of Nina Totenberg, Dan Rather, Chris Matthews, Andrea Mitchell, and Brian Williams.
If the truth were told, most of Trump’s critics are jealous, envious of his wealth – and they loath his candor. Donald might also be hated for what he is not. Trump is not a lawyer, nor is he a career politician who lives on the taxpayer dime. Trump is paying for his own campaign. Bernie, Barack, McCain, and Kerry could take enterprise lessons from a chap like Trump.
Unlike most government barnacles, Trump can walk and chew gum at the same time. He knows how to close a deal and build something. He is a net creator, not consumer, of a kind of wealth that provides “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for Americans – real jobs not feather merchants.
Today, Trump has nothing left to prove. Yet, success has allowed him the rarest of public privileges, an electoral pulpit and the courage to speak his mind. Alas, truth is not necessarily a political asset in a socialized democracy.
Indeed, the erstwhile presidential candidate stepped on his crank recently by suggesting that Mexico, already exporting dangerous drugs, cheap tomatoes, and even cheaper labor, was also exporting violent felons to the US.
Truth hurts! Trump’s rude candor is underwritten by nearly half a million illegal felons in American jails. Coincidently, events have conspired to support Trump’s take on Mexican dystopia with the El Chapo Guzman jailbreak and the murder of Kathryn Steinle by Francisco Sanchez.
Senor Sanchez sported a lengthy criminal record and had been deported on four previous occasions. San Francisco, a “sanctuary” city, failed to honor existing warrants and released Sanchez from jail just before he blew Kathy Steinle away.
As serendipity would have it, Trump then went to Phoenix on 12 July and gave a stem winder to a sell-out crowd on the subject of illegal immigration. Senator John McCain was not pleased to have Donald on Arizona’s front lawn and intemperately called Trump supporters “crazies.” Trump returned fire saying that McCain was no hero.
Here again Trump cut to the quick, pointing out that no one qualifies as a hero because he was shot down or captured. Indeed, being a hostage in North Vietnam is not necessarily heroic either. McCain is thought by some to be a heroic because he refused to accept an early release.
In fact, the Hanoi parole offer was a ruse, a Hobson’s choice, designed to embarrass McCain and his father at CINCPAC.
If McCain took the parole and abandoned his fellow POWs, he would have shamed his father and been ostracized by shipmates. Indeed, had John McCain not been the son and grandson of famous, and victorious, Pacific Command flag officers, no one would have noticed him then or now.
Few of the demagogues who have come to John McCain’s defense could name any of the 600 Vietnam-era POWs other than McCain. McCain is famous today because he, like John Kerry, has parlayed a very average Vietnam military service into a three decade political sinecure.
We know of 50,000 Vietnam veterans that might be more deserving than John McCain. Unfortunately, they died in a war that generals couldn’t win and politicians couldn’t abide. A body bag seldom gets to play the “hero.”
McCain is no political hero either.
He is famously ambiguous on domestic issues like immigration. He is also a Johnny-come-lately to Veterans Administration rot which has metastasized as long as McCain has been in office. On foreign policy, McCain is a Victoria Nuland era crackpot, supporting East European coups, playing cold warrior, and posturing with neo-Nazis in Kiev. McCain pecks at Putin too because the Senate, like the Obama crew, hasn’t a clue about genuine threats like the ISIS jihad or the latest Islam bomb.
To date, Trump has run a clever campaign. He is chumming, throwing red meat and blood into campaign waters and all the usual suspects are in a feeding frenzy. McCain, the Press, the Left, and the Republican establishment all have something to say about “the Donald.” It is truly amazing how cleverly Trump manages to manipulate the establishment.
If you are trying to sell an idea or a candidacy, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Who knows where the Trump campaign goes? For the moment, he has scored direct hits on Mexico and McCain. With El Capo on the loose again, every time a toilet flushes in Sinaloa, Mexican garbage is likely spill out in Los Angeles, Hollywood, San Francisco, Portland, or Seattle. Indeed, it’s hard to believe that the Left Coast could survive without cheap labor, pistileros, meth, coke, heroin, or weed. Necrotic immigration and its byproducts are ready made targets for a gunslinger like Trump.
Trump is no bigot. He probably employs more Latinos and Blacks than Enrique Peña Nieto or Barack Obama. In his own way, Donald Trump is both immigrant and POW, a refugee from Queens and still a prisoner of Wharton. “The Donald” is the dude, the guy with babes and a role of Benjamins that would choke a shark. He is the wildly successful capitalist that some of us love to hate.
Before democratic socialism, success and effectiveness were measures of merit. It doesn’t take much insight to compare Trump’s various enterprises with federal programs. Public education, banking oversight, public housing slums, poverty doles, veteran’s fiascos, internal revenue hijinks, and even some Defense Department procurement programs are consensus failures. The F-35 “Lightning” fighter is an illustration, arguably the most expensive single DOD boondoggle in history. Pentagon progressives seldom win a cat fight these days, but they still spend like sailors.
If and when Trump fails, he is out of business.
In Trump’s world, failure has consequences. In contrast, Washington rewards failure with better funding. Indeed, generational program failure is now a kind of perverse incentive for Beltway politicians and apparatchiks to throw good money at failed programs.
The difference between Trump and McCain should be obvious to any fair observer; Trump has done something with his talents. McCain, in contrast, is coasting on a military myth and resting on the laurels of Senatorial tenure.
Any way you look at it, Donald Trump is good for national politics, good for democracy, good for America, and especially good for candor. If nothing else, “the Donald” may help Republicans to pull their heads out of that place where the sun seldom shines.
The author had two tours in Vietnam as a junior officer and subsequently served as command Intelligence briefer in Hawaii where he updated CINCPAC, John McCain’s father, on POW matters.