Alon Ben-Meir: The ABCs of Trump’s political demise

alon ben meirAs we approach the end of Donald Trump’s first year in office, it seems appropriate to survey his performance and his outlook for the future. But right at the onset, one cannot escape the conclusion that, unlike any other of his predecessors, he is a weird and wild president who is devoid of any civility and moral responsibility. In less than a year, the absurd became the norm, ignorance became a virtue, and lying has sadly become the order of the day. He brought shame and dishonor to the most prestigious office in the world—the US Presidency. His moral lapses, notoriety, vulgarity, and self-deceit are beyond the pale of the human disorder.

If Trump’s behavior, public statements, and warped tweets do not seal his political demise, the blame must not rest on his shoulders alone. It must also rest on his party—the corrupt Republican establishment—for having mortgaged the fate of the country to a mentally unstable moron. The Republican party will be held responsible for what may well be irreparable damage to America’s global leadership and moral standing.

It is no wonder that each letter of the alphabet – from A to Z – provides at least one maligning word that describes the man that has brought nothing but disgrace to his office.

To say that Trump is Arrogant understates his propensity to show off his presumed skills as a negotiator, alleged business acumen, and supposed grasp of complex issues. He constantly claims that he is smarter than everyone around him, even insulting the US military by stating “There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am”, and “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.” No wonder Trump can’t sleep at night; he feels obliged to ‘enlighten the world’ with his early morning stream of twisted tweets.

Many people refer to Trump as a Bigot, a characterization which he owns and takes pleasure in displaying.  No one has forgotten his outrageous attack on Mexican immigrants, stating: “When Mexico sends its people… They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” His bigotry was even more pronounced when he belittled two Gold Star parents of a Muslim-American soldier who died in 2014 while serving in Iraq. By now, Trump has earned the distinction of making bigotry synonymous with his name.

One does not need to know Trump well to quickly discern that he is a Crude man with no scruples. He refers to Senator Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas, going so far as to do so at an event honoring Navajo veterans. He regularly calls people “losers”, “fools”, and “lame”, especially on Twitter. In speaking about the hosts of Morning Joe, he said “…low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago… around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” This is the real Trump—behaving like a wild caveman who has long since lost his civility.

Being a Demagogue is second-nature to Trump; he will say anything, however contradictory and absurd, only to fuel his base. He made a campaign and inauguration pledge to eradicate Islamic terrorism from the face of the earth, knowing that this will never happen. In his inauguration speech, he stated: “Every decision… will be made to benefit American workers and American families”—a phony claim, as the tax bill shows. He craves pomp and circumstance, claiming “That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military.” Demagoguery, to be sure, became Trump’s staple diet on which he feeds.

For Trump, being an Egomaniac fits not only his persona but his perpetually disturbing self-praise. Perhaps he still doesn’t believe that he is the president and needs that reinforcement. His tweets like “Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named “Man (Person) of the Year,” like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot. I said probably is no good and took a pass…” show the enormity of his ego. Trump continues to boast about the size of his inaugural crowd, insisting that he had a much larger turnout than Obama in 2009. He still can’t digest that a smaller crowd attended his inauguration than that of a black president.

Trump is the only president who has committed Fraud on such an unparalleled scale. Starting with Trump University, he violated NY laws by calling it a university but operating without an educational license. He charged students $35k a year, promising they would “learn from Donald Trump’s handpicked instructors, and that participants would have access to Trump’s real estate ‘secrets.’” No jobs were offered, and no secret information was revealed. He filed for bankruptcy four times (1991, 1992, 2004, and 2009), was repeatedly fined for breaking rules related to his casinos, and so on. The dictionary might as well define the word ‘fraud’ by citing some of Trump’s fraudulent business dealings.

If nothing else, Trump is a master of Garbled words. Despite his praise of his own language skills, his unscripted utterances are incoherent, such as his description of visiting Napoleon’s tomb, saying: “He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death.” He rambled on about foreign policy, stating “You know, he [Obama] can talk tough all he wants, in the meantime he talked tough to North Korea. And he didn’t actually. You look at the red line in the sand in Syria. He didn’t do the shot. I did the shot…” Yes, Trump did attack a Syrian airbase, but only after ‘receiving permission’ from Putin.

Putting his travel ban into immediate effect, stranding hundreds at airports, and blocking off access to the US arbitrarily is as Heartless and cruel as can be imagined.  He endorsed a proposed repeal of Obamacare without plans to provide aid to disadvantaged communities. He has made no effort to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, ending care for 9 million low-income children, while giving billions in tax cuts to the richest of the rich. He callously ended DACA, which will affect almost 800,000 young adults who came to the US when they were children and don’t have a home to return to if deported. Terminating DACA would also lead to splitting up families –those who illegally immigrated but have children that were born in the US. If Trump needed a heart transplant, his body would reject any heart which has not already been imbued with cruelty.

Trump has repeatedly demonstrated that being Ignorant is a virtue, especially when he pretends to know everything. He suggested that Frederick Douglass is still alive, offering “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.” He took pride in the fact that he was tutored by Chinese President Xi Jinping about Korean-Chinese relations at a dinner. That’s how quick a learner he is. When discussing healthcare, he stated in February “Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated.” Of course not. Trump thought that repeating “repeal and replace” is all it takes to resolve America’s healthcare problem.

Trump talks, walks, and brags like a Juvenile. He childishly tweeted: “We should have a contest as to which of the Networks, plus CNN and not including Fox, is the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted in its political coverage of your favorite President (me).” Exactly like an infant, he also engaged in a Twitter war with basketball personality LaVar Ball, after Ball did not thank him for negotiating his son’s release from a Chinese prison: “…LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you…. Ungrateful fool!” So, if you walk, talk, and brag like a juvenile, you are qualified to replace Trump.

Being Knavish is just another characteristic that defines Trump as he has become known—with no scruples and no principles. He insists that the tax bill will benefit all Americans, when every study shows that the tax bill will benefit the rich the most, and will in fact harm middle class and low income families. He falsely claims that the tax bill “is going to cost me a fortune, this thing—believe me. Believe me, this is not good for me” (this has been disproven by economists). He commonly mistreats his workers (many of whom were immigrants). There are still many lawsuits against him for not paying his laborers. Unfortunately for them, they will have to wait to be paid until he is impeached.

If nothing else, Trump is known as a compulsive Liar, and his political ascendance was built on lies. He really believes that if one repeats a lie time and again, it becomes the accepted truth, and that is good enough for his base. Trump has lied about voter fraud, protesters paid to oppose him, Obama wiretapping his phones, how many times he was on the cover of Time—the list goes on and on. His file in Politifact says he has outright lied over 48% of the time. At a rally in Pensacola, FL, he said “Black homeownership just hit the highest level it has ever been in the history of our country”, but it has actually fallen almost yearly since 2004. Trump is in his element when he is living in a world of colorful lies.

As a master Manipulator, Trump uses language to galvanize voters; for instance, by using the marketable slogan “Make America Great Again,” he made his politics an easy sale. He has licensed and sold his name to give the appearance of success and stability. He used terrorist attacks in London and Egypt to push his travel ban. He condemns actions that others have done, to cover his own despicable delinquency (like his tweet in response to Al Franken’s sexual misconduct, when in fact he is the sexual predator-in-chief). His manipulation tactics are commonly known as ‘Trumpism.’ For Trump, manipulation is a sort of twisted art form, and he should probably have his picture on the cover of Time magazine with caption, ‘The Manipulator of the Year.’

When it comes to being a Narcissist, Trump trumps them all—Putin, Erdogan, Netanyahu, and even Kim Jong Un. Everything Trump does is designed to make it solely about him. When campaigning for failed Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange, he said “I’m taking a big risk because if Luther does not make it, they are going to go after me.” Even in tragedy he pulls attention back around to himself: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism…” On his desk, instead of having a Truman-esque plaque that reads “The Buck Stops Here,” Trump’s should read “It is me, me, me, all about me.”

Like many others, I wonder how a person, let alone the president, can be as Obnoxious as Trump is. Will he ever quit his disdain of Hilary Clinton? His tweets about her pour out like waste from a corroded pipeline. During the second presidential debate, Trump loomed behind Clinton, following her and making faces at her throughout the duration of the debate. He is still obsessed with Obama’s birthplace, and when Obama won reelection, he had a meltdown on Twitter and even went as far as calling for a revolution. In a competition for the title of the most obnoxious person in the world, Trump would win it handily.

When it comes to Polarizing, you’ve got to give Trump an A+. His policies and behaviors polarize the public: such as the wall, the travel ban, his reactions towards the press, his treatment of immigrants… Trump’s name itself is polarizing. He sees everything in black and white, no middle ground, which has become increasingly painful for him in dealing with seriously complex issues. Since he came to office, the political and social divisiveness in the country grew ever wider, and ‘Us vs. Them’ became the refrain of the day. To keep his base, Trump plays one group against another while enjoying the tension he creates.

One other trait that distinguishes Trump is his Querulous nature. He constantly picks fights on Twitter, makes wild statements like threatening to attack North Korea, and engages in derogatory statements to pick fights with senators, judges, football players, and many others, only to score a point. After Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called for Trump to resign due to increasing sexual harassment, he showered her with insults and went as far as clearly implying that she traded sexual favors for campaign contributions. He craves mean fights, which seem to energize him and give him that psychopathic satisfaction.

Trump is a Racist man to the bone. Only a person who is disposed to white supremacy could draw a moral equivalence between white nationalists in the Charlottesville rallies and law- abiding counter-protestors, some of whom turned violent. He claimed that one of the federal judges acting in the class action case against Trump University couldn’t do his job because “he’s a Mexican”. And no one can deny the fact that there was a notable difference in his response to Hurricane Maria (which devastated Puerto Rico) vs. his prompt and immediate generous aid to victims of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, which affected Florida and Texas. From Trump’s perspective, white supremacy is only natural, as is the ‘inferiority’ of minorities.

Being a Showman is to a great extent the means by which Trump covers his shortcomings and lack of self-confidence. Everything, starting from his candidacy announcement riding on a golden escalator, has been a performance. He has a predilection for props, from comparisons of Obamacare vs. its replacement, scores of folders purportedly containing plans to disentangle himself from his businesses, to his most recent giant stacks of paper adorned with red tape (to be symbolically cut with gold scissors) to symbolize his efforts to cut regulations. Trump lives on showmanship, and without a stage he feels empty—because he is.

Toxic: There has been a rise of hate crimes and anti-Semitism since Trump took office. The spread of toxicity is known as the “Trump Effect”. Trump’s selfishness poisons the civilian and political atmosphere, infecting Congress and splitting the GOP. Senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake have spared no words to describe Trump’s toxicity. The list of current and past government officials, conservative media editors and columnists, and intelligence officials in opposition to Trump is incomparable to any of his predecessors. Trump wanted to “drain the swamp” in Washington, but all he has done is leave toxic waste in his wake.

Many people are concerned about Trump’s Unstable behavior, and even more are deeply troubled about its implications on his mental instability. Time and again Trump has demonstrated how unhinged he is. He is compulsive and reacts to matters unrelated to governance, getting into Twitter fights with people like Michael Moore, ESPN commentator Jameel Hill, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, with no logical reason. Trump is dangerously losing touch with reality. By freely taunting North Korea, for instance, he raised tensions while disregarding the potential dire consequences. Psychiatrists and psychologists strongly suggest that given his erratic behavior, he has a mental illness.

The record on Trump’s Vulgarity is astounding. He seems to relish his vulgarity and his meanness that goes with it. He called women like Rosie O’Donnell dogs, fat, slobs, pigs, and disgusting. He said about Senator Rand Paul: “Truly weird… reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain. He was terrible at debate!” Trump enjoyed mocking a disabled reporter at a campaign rally. And in a feud with Megyn Kelly, he blamed her criticism of him during a presidential debate on her menstruation (“blood coming out of her wherever”). For Trump, vulgarity is his drug of choice, on which he regularly overdoses.

Trump himself openly and repeatedly admitted that he is Whiny. In a statement to CNN’s Chris Cuomo, he admitted: “I do whine because I want to win and I’m not happy about not winning and I am a whiner and I keep whining and whining until I win.” He has complained that “No politician in history – and I say this with great surety – has been treated worse or more unfairly” (this he did immaturely at a graduation ceremony at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy). Trump will soon realize that no matter how much he whines, in the future he will end up the loser because he has nothing to offer, except for whining.

Trump was born Xenophobic, a chauvinistic fool with no sense of what is right or wrong. He led an assault on immigrants—whether they be Muslim, Arab, or Mexican—which he reinforced through his refugee and travel ban and “America First” campaign. He has attempted to cut off funding for sanctuary cities, which house thousands of immigrants, through Executive Order 13768. And through AG Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department, he has been sending letters that attempt to harass jurisdictions that he feels have weak immigration policies into working with ICE. Trump’s xenophobia is a consuming obsession based on illusions far removed from reality.

Trump is simply a Yellow-bellied coward, which has been plain to see for decades. He dodged the draft in Vietnam, and reacted to being gifted a veteran’s Purple Heart by saying “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.” In his efforts to end the Russia probe, he fired FBI Director Comey. He is terrified of what Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation may eventually reveal. At the very least, Trump is facing obstruction of justice, let alone Russia’s interference in the election and the potential collusion to help him win the presidency. Deep inside Trump knows he did not earn the Presidency, and he is horrified that it will be snatched away from him. Perhaps he should not hold his breath, because the writing is on the wall.

Trump is an unbending Zealot – not as much about his religious or ideological convictions, but far more so about his possessions and the image he wants to project. To show his conservative credentials (albeit he would trade them for any self-serving interest), he nominated two extreme right-wing federal court judges to lifetime positions. One helped craft voter suppression laws in North Carolina, and the other professed that the promotion of transgender rights is “Satan’s plan”. Trump delivered a speech in Warsaw this July that was highly reminiscent of alt-right rhetoric, leaving the unmistakable impression how zealotry will guard his conservative white base.

There is a touch of humor here and there to lighten up this alphabetic review of Trump’s first year in office, but the subject matter is fateful to America’s future. Trump is dangerous; his shortsightedness, mental instability, and ominous off-the-cuff statements could spark unintended horrifying violent conflagrations.

The Republican party, which is deeply engrossed in partisan politics, has become the enabler of Trump, ignoring that they were elected not to protect the president but America’s global and national security interests, and the wellbeing of the American people. Every member of the party establishment will be held responsible for not rising and stopping Trump from causing irreparable damage to the country’s leadership role, moral standing, and the social and political injury that he will inflict on the nation.

Any individual, let alone the president, who praises Putin’s Russia—America’s foremost enemy—and in the same breath severely criticizes and disparages our most esteemed institutions, especially the intelligence agencies and the judiciary, is tantamount to treason. How could any Republican official who claims to put the country’s security and safety first remain silent in the face of this unfolding perilous development? And worse yet, how could they continue to support a president who is unstable, unpredictable, and unfit to occupy the chair of the president?

Republicans and Democrats must join hands and present Trump with a choice to resign or be impeached. Nothing else will save the country but Trump’s political demise. Republicans in a position of power must now demonstrate where their loyalty lies—to the country, or to a corrupt party and to a so-called President who has never been able to rise above the fray, to the detriment of the nation.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.