H.W. Brands’ The General v. The President is a pointed reminder of the vitriol by Republicans against Harry Truman and all that he stood for. Truman’s friends used words like persistent and plain speaking; his enemies: inept and unfit. Though the comparison is not deep, there is much in parallel between the personalities of our 33rd president and our 45th, Donald J. Trump.
Trump’s own book, The Art of the Deal, published in 1987, proves a prescient primer for what may lie ahead during his presidency. With the campaign long over, a few lines from Deal tell us much about the man who presently grips the tiller of our ship of state.
Most instructive for friends and enemies alike was how he and Don Imus collaborated to help a Georgia woman whose husband dropped dead trying to raise money to save the family farm. When Trump called the bank to initiate a rescue, the banker told him to forget it, whereupon Trump threatened to sue him and the bank for the man’s “murder,” having harassed him to death. The banker soon caved and about the incident Trump said, “Sometimes it pays to be a little wild.” It's an MO I guess we'll have to get used to.
In reference to a negative comment by an architectural reviewer, Trump lambasted the guy. “My people keep telling me I shouldn’t write letters like this to critics.” He went on: “The way I see it is critics get to say what they want about my work, so why shouldn’t I get to say what I want about theirs?” This was long before Twitter, of course. In fighting back, “the risk is you’ll make a bad situation worse… . But my experience is that if you’re fighting for something you believe in—even if it means alienating some people along the way—things usually work out for the best in the end.”
“I don’t do it for the money,” he started out his story. “I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.” He added, “I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after. Sometimes, I settle for less than I sought, but in most cases I still end up with what I want.” His secret is this: “I like thinking big. I always have. To me it’s very simple: if you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big. Most people think small… . And that gives people like me a great advantage.”
That background, his MO, his drive all suggest a sequencing that might look like this:
Trump’s work with auto, airline, and tech execs begins the job growth environment a sound tax approach will further encourage. Baby boomers retiring with newly-fattened 401Ks will create openings for professional and technical talent. The economy will kick into gear when there are jobs aplenty for those who work with their hands, and that will happen faster when borders are secure, putting our people first in line for service, construction, and factory jobs. That also gives us freedom from jihadi horrors like the Boston Marathon, Ft. Hood, and San Bernardino, to name just three. Deporting criminal aliens and eliminating sanctuary enclaves will better job opportunities for all who remain when labor demands escalate and welfare burdens diminish. Revenues from more working taxpayers will strengthen the military and our infrastructure, all while Russian and other imperialists are in some way neutralized.
Seems clear enough.
With this president, at least, there’s a plan! And it’s for all Americans, not just the noisy left’s newest best friends.
At the end of his book, the future president wrote, “In my life, there are two things I’ve found I’m very good at: overcoming obstacles and motivating good people to do their very best work. One of the challenges ahead is how to use those skills in the service of others… .” That was in 1987.
In 2017, the obstacles are great, and while the talent is greater, the opposition is determined. If driving progressives to distraction is a pleasant thought, adapting a Truman era line also comes to mind: “Give ‘em hell, Donald!”