Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Trump's Kobayashi Maru

The Presidency is an unwinnable game. It's an impossible job at best. How do you reconcile a Constitution that nobly aims to protect the rights and lives of every individual and every minority group with an electoral scheme that rewards gerrymandering, dirty tricks and plain old corruption to generate some artificial consensus by majority rule. Hell, if Obama couldn't do it, who could? Donald Trump didn't think he'd win the election. He didn't want the job, but he craved the fame.

Now, he's stuck. He can't do anything that would bear even the appearance of losing face. He's a self-described "winner" at all things competitive. He's lived his whole life bullying, lying, cheating and scamming others to promote himself and he's gotten kind of rich doing it. He hasn't really "won" in terms of becoming the richest man in the world, but, dammit, he's become the most famous blowhard in history. The problem comes in actually trying to do the job of governing, as the President is supposed to do. Trump is clearly in over his head, but he can't admit that. He's intellectually lazy and inattentive to details. Thinking about matters of great importance is too hard for him, so he resorts to relying on pre-digested sound bites from comic book news sources. He sputters and fumbles when he talks about substance, but he can lead a "great" cheer, especially when it happens to promote him personally.

He can't drain the swamp. He can't speak for the people. He can't balance the budget. He can't restore a manufacturing base to the United States. He can't deliver the kind of tax reform people want. He can't provide "Better than Obamacare" health coverage AND cut spending. Each one of those goals is mutually exclusive from the others. He really shouldn't try to keep a promise that no one ever really wanted him to keep. He doesn't have much time in which to create a Presidential legacy. He will start to build a wall because it's going to have his name on it. He may even reform health care because it'll be called Trumpcare from now on.  Doing any of those things, however, would placate a vocal minority at the expense of alienating another, powerful constituency. The problem is, there's no consistency among constituencies. He doesn't understand that pro-lifers don't care about ISIS; tea-partiers don't care about trade balances; billionaires don't care about food stamps.

He doesn't understand that if you crack open the head of an American voter, you'll find nothing but a sea of contradictions - a veritable cornucopia of cognitive dissonance. Build a $20 billion dollar wall, but don't raise my taxes; repair the bridges and highways that I drive on every day but don't raise my taxes; give me a license to pollute but don't raise my taxes. Stop spending money on an outdated and unnecessary military and I'll gladly pay more for social programs (That one might cause his brain to explode, but that's a story for another time). He's still not going to pay taxes, himself. He wins vs the IRS. He also wins vs his contractors and his employees. He wins vs the media. He wins the hearts, if not the minds, of the disaffected "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!" crowd.

He's well on his way to becoming the least effective, most unpopular President in history. Each lie he tells, every breath he takes, diminishes his stature. He's made a career out of failing up in the business world. Every time the shit was hitting the fan, he could declare bankruptcy and still stand in front of a hotel, or an airplane, or a golf course named TRUMP. There is no Bankruptcy Court for failed Presidents. There's only impeachment, or a grand failure named the Trump revolution, when the Democrats take back the legislature in 2018, or the humiliation of not even being considered for re-nomination at the 2020 Republican Convention. He may be a laughingstock around the world, but he still has legions of knee-jerk supporters who believe in him. He needs one last chance to preserve a fraction of whatever shred of dignity he's clinging onto in his own mind.

He needs to rig the system before it chews him up and spits him out. He can only do so if he finds a way to resign from office, say for health reasons, or because the job is too stressful or too dangerous for his wife and kids (poor things). A well-timed heart attack before the next big terrorist attack (which will probably be aimed at a Trump Hotel near you, by the way) should provide the perfect cover for him to quit while he still has a handful of zealous supporters out there to keep the debate going for years. He'll be out on the golf course, nursing his health, massaging his own ego and reminiscing about what he coulda, woulda, shoulda done if he didn't have to step down at the peak of his popularity. He deserves the rest.

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