Memories of the Trump Administration

U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks in New York
“I’ve got another puzzle for you …”
Evan Osnos has thought about what, for many, is the unthinkable: A Donald Trump administration.

For his piece in The New Yorker about what a Trump term would involve, Osnos talked to Democrats and Republicans, Trump advisers and Trump despisers. Normally I would link out to such a long and informative article on Sunday for my Sunday read, but Osnos’ work — which appears in the magazine’s most recent issue — is worth reading right away.

Trump, and his campaign, have been all about dominance, as Josh Marshall has written. Osnos adds that positions won’t get in the way as long as Trump comes out on top:

Trump’s Presidential plans are not shaped by ideology. He changed parties five times between 1999 and 2012, and, early on the campaign trail, he praised parts of Planned Parenthood (while opposing abortion), vowed to protect Social Security, and supported gay rights (while opposing same-sex marriage). He is governed, above all, by his faith in the ultimate power of transaction—an encompassing perversion of realism that is less a preference for putting interests ahead of values than a belief that interests have no place for values.

This doesn’t necessarily mean Trump is pragmatic, though adviser Roger Stone calls him “a Reagan-type pragmatist.” Reagan, however, was willing to take a few half-loaves — from Tip O’Neill during the 1982 recession, and with Mikhail Gorbachev when the Soviet leader offered an olive branch to reduce the threat of nuclear missiles.

For all his deal-making, Trump doesn’t seem to like the idea of win-win. It’s his victory or nobody’s.

As Osnos writes:

In “Trump: Think Like a Billionaire” (2004), Trump wrote that others “are surprised by how quickly I make big decisions, but I’ve learned to trust my instincts and not to overthink things.” He added, “The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience.” He prides himself on vengeance and suspicion. “If you do not get even, you are just a schmuck!” he wrote, in 2007. “Be paranoid,” he said in 2000.

Besides, even if he wants to cut a deal, he now has an army of absolutists behind him. Will they accept a smaller-scale wall? What if immigrants aren’t shipped back to Immigrantland immediately?

Of course, there’s always one sure-fire path to support: Start a war. One foreign-policy hand told Osnos that, in 1990, Trump had approached a nuclear-arms negotiator and offered him advice on how to deal with the Soviets.

“Trump told him to arrive late, stand over the Soviet negotiator, stick his finger in his chest, and say, ‘Fuck you!’ ” the diplomat told Osnos.

That should work. I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.

 

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