The Exceptional Trump
Donald Trump, unlike Barack Obama &Company, loves talking about America’s “exceptional” qualities, but we tend to overlook the importance of the exceptional qualities of Trump himself.
No, this will not be a suck-up exercise about the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
A serious discussion of President Trump and his record should not neglect Trump’s faults and mistakes, but it must honestly assess how Trump’s own background has shaped events in America and the world.
In many respects, Trump is a fulfilment of the vision of America by the French historian Alexis De Tocqueville, who studied and described American exceptionalism almost 200 years ago, and his words are still accurate.
De Tocqueville saw what made America special, different from Europe, and one of his observations was that great men in America tended to go into “commerce” (today we would say business), leaving politics for more mediocre people.
If one looks at Congress, one finds a collection of mostly mediocrities, failed lawyers and future lobbyists, rarely anyone who has proven himself or herself in any field like business, science or medicine. This is especially true of the Democrats, though there are always some Republican mediocrities, too.
One is hard-pressed to find a Democrat in the House or Senate from New York, California or Illinois who ran a successful business like Donald Trump, George W. Bush or Carly Fiorina, had a medical career like Ben Carson John Barraso or Rand Paul, or led the Screen Actors Guild like Ronald Reagan.
Being an independent businessman who becomes a presidential candidate -- whether Donald Trump or H. Ross Perot (who died this month) -- promotes independent thought, and it exposes the candidate to creative concepts that are out-of-the-box and out-of-Washington.
Trump’s critics emphasize Trump’s Twitter eruptions (and they are sometimes right to criticize), but they minimize the fact that Trump does NOT have the habits of the play-it-safe politician but rather more of the can-do man of commerce, constantly looking for ways to solve problems and curb inefficiencies.
Even before he actually took office, Trump was trying to cut deals and cut costs -- whether revising plans for the new Air Force One or bringing more jobs back to Ohio and Michigan. His work routine -- long hours and personal involvement -- showed he would spend less time golfing in Hawaii and vacationing in Camp David.
Any fair assessment of Trump starts by realizing that Trump knows how to work, how to make others work for him, how to make money and how to make money work for you.
Donald Trump is the first modern president who has learned life’s lessons of how economic forces work. Trump does not need to read Paul Samuelson or (God Forbid) Paul Krugman. He understands how to leverage money for building a hotel in New York (that others said would never be built) or how to leverage money, tariffs and sanctions to deter, seduce and coerce China, Iran and Russia, and even Mexico and Canada.
This is a businessman who loves to take credit and hates to walk away from a fight but who loves it even more when he makes a deal no one else could make, collecting the profits (even without taking credit).
You will not hear the “experts” at NBC or CNN or NYT or WashPost admit this, but this exceptional man, who wanted to deal with Vladimir Putin, was also the first US president whose forces actually fired at the Russians -- twice in Syria. Tell that to the huffy puffy hallucinators who claim Trump “colluded with Russia.”
These are the same partisan geniuses who insist Barack Obama deserved a Nobel Peace Prize, ignoring Obama’s hand in bringing more destruction to Syria, millions of refugees to Europe, a failed state in Libya, and nuclear bombs within the grasp of the Iranian ayatollahs.
Trump’s foreign policy record is an amazing reversal of Obama’s failures, and Trump’s economic record is real.
They are exceptional achievements, especially extraordinary for being achieved in the teeth of the “resistance” deployed against him by the media-Democrat team.
One need not be a Trump devotee to appreciate the amazing record of more jobs and higher wages achieved -- despite the forecasts by “experts.” One need not be a fan of Trump’s to appreciate that his attention to Asian affairs was not the kind of policy fiction of Obama-Clinton-Kerry
By all means, keep criticizing Trump -- his rhetoric, his style, his long ties, his hair, ya-da-ya-da, but step back to appreciate the full picture.
Take exception to elements of Trump’s style, but not Trump’s exceptionalism.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
Dr. Michael Widlanski taught political communication for two decades at The Hebrew University, Bar Ilan University and as a visiting professor at Washington University in St. Louis in 2007-8 and at the University of California, Irvine in 2014. Earlier he was a reporter at The New York Times, Cox Newspapers, Israeli Army Radio and Israel Television.