Donald Trump is No Culture War Apprentice.


Donald Trump on the former Larry King Show

While its still early in the game to be singling out a clear GOP nominee, Donald Trump is gaining momentum in recent polls. His strategy so far is to position himself as the leader of the birther movement to gain notoriety with the conservative base. Like the rest of the culture warriors, Trump’s comments are pure culture-war-tactics, and bad ones at that because they are so easily debunked. I won’t dignify the birth certificate issue with any response. Here’s what he said about other countries’ view of us.

“Right now, America is being taken to the cleaners by the Chinese … We’re being taken to the cleaners by OPEC. We’re being taken to the cleaners by virtually everybody that does business with us. We’re a laughingstock throughout the world. As president, I’d bring respect back to this country. [….] And, “Speaking in D.C. at [CPAC], Trump said the United States has become a “laughing stock” and “whipping post” for the rest of the world. … The world is treating us without respect, they are not treating us properly.” [….]

President Obama restored and increased America’s positive global image the moment he entered the White House. That hasn’t changed. In 2009, the Pew Research Center released a report, Confidence in Obama Lifts U.S. Image Around the World, that shows America’s favorability rating at 88 percent:

“The image of the United States has improved markedly in most parts of the world, reflecting global confidence in Barack Obama. In many countries opinions of the United States are now about as positive as they were at the beginning of the decade before George W. Bush took office. Improvements in the U.S. image have been most pronounced in Western Europe, where favorable ratings for both the nation and the American people have soared. But opinions of America have also become more positive in key countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, as well.”

Pres. Barack Obama | Official Portrait

On foreign policy, the Pew Center survey shows a 74 percent approval rating for President Obama (and the US), representing a jump from 37 percent approval rating in 2007. In 2010, the Center noted that the US and the President’s approval rating continued to enjoy the same success; especially on the global economy, “President Barack Obama gets an enthusiastic thumbs up for the way he has handled the world economic crisis.” Maintaining a global approval rating average of 86.5 percent soundly debunk’s Trump’s reference to America being a “laughingstock” in the eyes of the global community.

Libya is a prime example of the trust other nations place in the President and the US. America is the prime factor in strength and intelligence in the NATO forces. And who is leading America? Obama. If our allies saw us as a “laughingstock,” they would never follow us into battle putting their people at risk. They would never seek out our intelligence and expertise, looking for us to play a key role in that regard. You don’t rely on intelligence on the battle field from those you consider to be a “laughingstock.” Trump is merely following the culture war playbook. Grab hold of a good lie and tie it to your opponent; then say it sincerely and say it often.

Trump’s self-opinion that his successful business practices leads to the White House is pure arrogance. History has a litany of successful businesspersons, but that doesn’t make them presidential material. Trump boasts often that his business battles (bankruptcy filings – last one was in 2009) of winning over huge business debt and coming out on top as proof of the great businessman he is. The fact that he is a billionaire is a testament to that. But his methodology of winning those battles are unsettling when looking for someone to lead our country.

Trump Taj Mahal | Atlantic City NJ

Trump’s decision to finance the Taj Mahal hotel with junk bonds left him $900 million in debt when the recession hit in the late 1980s. He filled Chapter 11 bankruptcy, successfully restructured his business plan, while brokering yet another big deal on the side, and came out a winner. He was almost forced to file personal bankruptcy but was able to successfully avoid doing so (that never happened again).

Trump repeated that scenario on at least two more occasions and possibly a fourth that appears to not have gone to a full court filing. What’s unsettling is Trump eagerly takes junk bond style risks under the assumption he will land on top through restructuring or bankruptcy if things go awry, while simultaneously engaging in other big deals that keeps him looking “good” to potential investors. Its a gamble bordering on a shell game; a philosophy of ‘how much are you willing to lose if things go south.’ That might be okay for a business, but its neither okay or enough when leading a country.

There’s a website, Donald Trump Bankruptcy News, with a host of links, including one to the Donald Trump University, which says, “Join Trump University Today! When it comes to getting clear of bankruptcy, managing real estate, and being a successful entrepreneur, there is not a more qualified man than Donald Trump himself.” I couldn’t find any mention of preventing bankruptcy. The website is set up so as not to appear that Donald Trump owns it. If anything goes wrong, he walks away clean.

One thing for certain, Trump’s momentum in the polls with his “birther squawk” will undoubtedly spill over into increasing his ratings of his reality television show, The Apprentice. The show’s rank in ratings has been on a steady decline every year from number seven when it first aired in 2004 to a rank of 93 for last year’s season. If Trump doesn’t get the GOP nomination, he’ll still come out a winner. He’ll have a nice boost to his television show rank, an increase in viewers and the potential for more advertisers.

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