Who is Donald Trump?
I applauded when Donald Trump jumped into the Republican presidential nominating fray. Here was someone with overwhelming national recognition due to his celebrity status, as well as someone who was politically independent due to his wealth. Someone of that stature could potentially drive a stake through the heart of the Republican establishment and forcefully blunt the folly of political correctness that has inundated American society. During the early stages of his campaign Trump exceeded all expectations in both of these arenas. However, as the novelty has begun to wear thin and his speeches and talking points have become annoyingly repetitive the question must be asked: who is Donald Trump?
Over the past six months, in both the mainstream and some Republican/conservative media, much has been made of Trump’s vacillations on major political issues over the years. A headline last fall is typical: Two Decades of Trump Policy: The Donald Was For Almost Anything Before He Was Against Most Everything. A myriad of articles have pointed out that he has dramatically changed positions on taxes, health care, gun control, labor unions, immigration and abortion over the past 20 years. However, there is no thinking person, much less a politician, that has not evolved in their approach and positions on various political issues over the years particularly as they get older and circumstances change.
While Trump’s vacillations on issues over the years are not overly troubling on the surface, these dramatic evolutions do require a thought provoking examination of his character and who he truly is.
In an interview with The Guardian (UK) in 2007 Trump was asked which was more important to him, performing or winning. His reply: “Well, they’re very similar words. You know, good performance leads to winning. You perform to win. It’s all about the endgame.” This approach sounds eerily similar to the socialist adage of the end justifying the means. How much of what he is saying on the stump today is performance (i.e. saying or doing anything) in order to win and how much does he truly believe and intends to carry out if elected?
Timothy O’Brien, then of the New York Times, wrote a book in 2005 disputing Trump’s claim of being worth billions. Donald Trump was so incensed that anyone would question him that he sued the writer and publisher for libel. In a deposition, conducted on December 19-20, 2007, the following exchange between Trump and the attorney for the Defendant took place:
Trump: My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with the markets and with attitudes and my feelings, even my own feelings, but I try.
Ceresney: Let me understand that a little. You said your net worth goes up and down based upon your own feelings?
Trump: Yes, even my own feelings, as to where the world is, where the world is going, and that can change rapidly from day to day…
Ceresney: When you publically state a net worth number, what do you base your number on?
Trump: I would say it’s my general attitude at the time that the question maybe asked. And as I say, it varies.
Needless to say the lawsuit was thrown out by the court in a scathing opinion by the presiding judge. However, Trump has successfully left no stone unturned to make certain that everyone knows that he is a wealthy and powerful man. Why is he so obsessed with what he is worth that he would go to court and humiliate himself by revealing to the world his paranoia and insecurity? And how would these traits manifest themselves if he were to occupy the Oval Office?
In 2013, after flirting with running for the Republican presidential nomination a year earlier, Donald Trump essentially endorsed Bill DeBlasio, who was known to be a committed socialist with a long record of being on the extreme left. Trump said,
“I think pretty strongly that he’ll be a good mayor. Maybe a very good mayor and I don’t think he’s going to want to kill the golden goose.”
This was said before the election when there was a viable Republican candidate running against DeBlasio. Just how committed to conservative principles is Donald Trump? Does he really have a core set of principles?
Over the years Trump has contributed enormous sums of money to individual Democrats and party campaign committees including the most unethical and partisan Senate Majority Leader in recent history, Harry Reid. Trump has justified these contributions as being necessary to essentially buy influence in order to get his real estate projects etc. approved. Perhaps so, but that does not explain when asked in February of 2014 who were his favorite journalists, he listed such liberal luminaries as: Maureen Dowd, Diane Sawyer, Andrea Peyser, George Stephanopoulis, Bob Scheiffer and Mika Brezinski. Therefore, does Trump, in his heart, still believe what he said in 1999 when he quit the Republican Party saying, “I just believe the Republicans are just too crazy right.”?
Donald Trump will turn 70 in June of this year. An age when one’s character and belief system has been firmly established for some period of time. Yet as someone his senior I must ask him: “Donald, who the hell are you and why should the American people trust you with the fate of the country potentially hanging in the balance.”?