Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Garth Rattray | The taming of the shrewd

Published:Monday | July 25, 2016 | 7:00 AM

No doubt, Donald Trump is a shrewd businessman, but can he prevail in the upcoming United States general election in November? He made his name as a real estate mogul, entrepreneur, reality-television personality and now as the GOP presidential nominee. But, even within his own party there was a serious movement dedicated to ousting him.

Ostensibly, in order to bridge the divide and gain party support, Trump (a brash, volatile outsider with a sparse ideological track record) shrewdly named Indiana governor Mike Pence (a strait-laced, disciplined warrior of the social conservative movement) as his running mate.

Trump has garnered immense popularity in certain quarters. He entertained the bored electorate with his brash, braggadocio and bombastic verbiage. His promise to make America great again captured the imagination and ignited the hopes of millions who feel powerless and let down by several political administrations.

Citizens tend to distrust politicians. Many Americans feel that their country isn't aggressive enough with terrorist groups and illegal immigration, and compromised too much on trade deals that end up costing many workers their jobs.

Trump capitalised on those emotions. He is not a politician per se, he conveniently donned the mantle of the Republican political party and is using politics as a vehicle to get where he wants to be, which is in a position of power so that he can effect major changes to the way that the country is run. However, I think that this is just another adventure for him, the ultimate challenge the prestige of being the number one CEO in America and an opportunity for him to right the wrongs as he sees them.

 

LEGENDARY INSULTS

 

He started off his campaign with waffling, generalised, shallow ideations about how things should be in America. His insults are legendary. When I looked up the number of times that he has used insulting words publicly, the figure was about 6,700 (words were often repeated). He derives great pleasure from attacking anyone and retaliating against every negative comment aimed at him.

During a debate, he insulted Fox's Megyn Kelly when he said: "She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions, and you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever." And during another political debate, he said this about Carly Fiorina: "Look at that face ... would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!" He tweeted this about President Obama's Rutgers speech: "In politics, and in life, ignorance is not a virtue. This is a primary reason that President Obama is the worst president in US history!"

He accused his own (adopted) Republican party of being unfair and rigging the electoral system. He labelled the North Atlantic Treaty Organization "obsolete" and intends to leave it if he is elected president. He wants to force Mexico to pay for a wall separating them from the United States. He wanted to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the USA. His various and sometimes outlandish remarks have made him extremely unpopular among foreign nations polled, and he's viewed as aggressive and volatile among a growing number of Americans.

 

BACK-PEDALLING

 

However, as Trump readies himself for the general elections, his handlers (family members) are trying to tame him. His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was summarily dismissed. Trump is reading prepared speeches off teleprompters to try to stay on point. He's back-pedalling on issues like banning Muslims. He's boning up on foreign policy issues, trying to provide details of his plans for governance and depending very heavily on advisers for guidance.

He can't help being combative and aggressive. The GOP remains divided on supporting him. Even if he becomes president, he will not be able to effect many of the changes that he wants. Important foreign nations disapprove of his policies. He will alienate America's allies and trading partners, which would be catastrophic for her economy and security. As a businessman, he has had many successes and several failures. A country can't be run like the Trump empire. For these reasons, he's still trailing Hillary Clinton in the polls.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to garthrattray@gmail.com and columns@gleanerjm.com