A castrated Republican Party Featured

TRUMP's presidential triumph in 2016, was no fluke but neither was it pre-ordained. But his failure during the four years of his term was expected — even predictable. Last column's speculation on Trump's Second Coming was predicated on MAGA's continued hold on the conservative right's narrative.

Today's column will shed light on these conjectures as we further delve not only into the flawed character of this man making a comeback, but a cursory review on how he progressed from a business career of bankruptcies, failures, and scams, punctuated by a 15-season run of his reality TV series "The Apprentice," parlaying this into a launching pad for his political career. Several books written during this period will be excerpted here: "The Making of Donald Trump" by a New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, (David Cay Johnston, 2016); "American Carnage" (Tim Alberta, New York Times Bestseller, 2019); and "A Very Stable Genius" (Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, Penguin Press, 2020).

David Cay Johnston describes Trump's rise to political power, using the tools he perfected as a private businessman and a professional scammer. The second book is a cursory review of what Tim Alberta describes as "the Republican Civil War," presaging the rise of Trump within its ranks. The third book starts with the perversion of the GOP designating him as its presidential nominee after the primaries and over the carcasses of the traditional GOP old guard.

The making of Donald Trump

Trump's sordid reputation when he threw his hat into the ring was not a deterrent but in a bizarre way, contributed to his mystique. True, he was a political outsider and a tyro but his brash and "no-holds-barred-the-devil-takes-the-hindmost" approach to capture the nomination fired the imagination of the GOP fringe, already wary of the establishment in the wake of a series of past governments. This movement metamorphosed into a cult-like assemblage with the slogan Make America Great Again (MAGA). Not an original one, this was lifted from Ronald Reagan, the icon of the American conservative right and the GOP's quintessential guru.

His stint at "The Apprentice" was a precursor to his insidious manipulation of media, helping him create a fictionalized version of himself as the "can-do-no-nonsense" executive. Keenly aware of the weaknesses of American media working under constant stress for headlines and deadlines — premium is given to sound bites in lieu of deep-research as de rigueur. This served him well as a candidate and later as president, who spends hours not at his Oval Office but binge-watching tv news and instantly texting replies on Twitter. He has no qualms about bullying journalists in his regular press conferences with his "alternative facts" when confronted with news and realities not in consonance with his own narrative. Those he labeled as "fake news." The book's author, Johnston, posits that "... Trump tries to hide the considerable gaps in his knowledge by making up his own facts, projecting a façade of superior intellect..."

Johnston further concludes that in Trump's dealings with his detractors, he uses the instruments of the law as plaintiff — monetarily burdening and intimidating the defendants with his financial clout. This ominous streak reveals the Donald himself to be "... a petty, immoral and vengeful man who will break the law and risk the lives of others to... get even."

The American carnage

Writing in 2019, Trump's second year in office, Tim Alberta gives us an interesting glimpse of the ideological deterioration of the GOP from a party of prudent conservatives, affluent suburbanites and champion of American values to that of one advocating the emerging right-wing voices on the fringes, replete with hints of racism and white supremacy. After a two-term GOP-led government of President "Dubya" Bush, who precipitated the Afghan war as a consequence of September 11 and the Iraq war — an alibi for the fake "weapons of mass destruction" — America had to undergo the subprime mortgage crisis. Added to this was, surprisingly, the heated issue of immigration, which many American's blamed for job losses and economic dislocation.

With these issues, John McCain, the American war hero, was trounced in the elections of 2008 by the first black American president, Barack Obama. The GOP and the political right were consumed by ideological zealotry and racism. And for Obama's two terms, the GOP seethed — paving the way in 2016 for Trump's takeover of the discredited GOP with his "baskets of deplorables." The GOP, once the bastion of American values, has transformed itself into what Tim Alberta dubbed as "... the home of laid-off steelworkers and angry white nationalists."

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Trump's bursting into the scene was timely. Addressing one of the cores of America's despondency — immigration — he said "... we will build a wall, and Mexico will pay for it...;" a scarier manifestations of what Americans are really being confronted with all along, using immigrants as scapegoats, "... feelings of instability that de-industrialization and free-market policies had brought to large swaths of the US over the last thirty years."

Tim Alberta's final take: "The Republican Party has been a battleground for ideological conflict over the last decade. The party's more moderate establishment, along with its policy platform of globalization and free trade, has been overthrown by the ideological right, in the shape of Donald Trump, who has brought a far more nativist and divisive agenda to the party. As Trump's presidency continues, the GOP is set to change even more."

A Very Stable Genius

Written in the third year of Trump's disastrous presidency, authors Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig gave a running account exploring the controversies and defining moments of Trump's failing presidency behind the scenes while things are volatile and in a dangerous flux.

Foremost of these was the Donald's disdain for expertise, demonstrating ignorance of subjects presidents have traditionally been expected to know; alienating the US military hierarchy itself when, from the very start, he declared at a high-level meeting at the Pentagon that he knows more than the admirals and generals, who are losers and "... he would not go to war with them."

In foreign affairs, Trump was enamored with Putin and practically realigned the US with Russia, its traditional enemy. More disastrously, the NATO leaders were denigrated by Trump, threatening to leave the alliance, abandoning them to the whims of their common enemy — if they don't pay up.

Rucker and Leonnig segued over to the damning Mueller report investigating the interference of Russia in the US elections. It contained a catalog of misconduct where, despite insufficient evidence proving Trump colluded with the Russian government, the report was unequivocal in claiming Trump and his aides hampered Mueller's investigation. Trump was obstructing justice! Yet because Trump controls the levers of power — the FBI and the DoJ which refused to exonerate him — he fired the FBI director unceremoniously. It wasn't the report itself, but its interpretation that mattered. "Here, the loudest voice won out — Trump's," the book's authors declared.

Mueller had the last say: "... he had neither concluded that the president had committed a crime, nor exonerated him." The Donald got away that time.

Not this time. Today, he is a convicted felon!
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