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Trump The Showman Takes Center Stage

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Trump The Showman Takes Center Stage

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Donald Trump loves the applause

Our long national IQ test is over. We failed.

Donald Trump, chosen by fewer than half of those who voted, will enter the Oval Office in January as one of the most shockingly unqualified, unprepared presidents in American history.

There is reason to be afraid. There’s also reason to wait and see what happens, before you start shopping for a house in Quebec.

Yes, the Trump we saw on the campaign trail — the one who sickened so many Republicans I know, as well as Democrats — was really him. Or at least the “him” of the moment.

He was petty, profane, proudly vindictive and perpetually unarmed with real facts. He was comfortable standing as a florid caricature of a blowhard billionaire.

When rattled, he went off like a Muppet in a microwave.

But he’ll be our next president because he’s very good at giving a performance, whether he believes what he’s saying or not. The white working-class people that he sought to galvanize bought his act, big-time.

Trump figured out the pandering formula early. He also understood that the currents of discontent dividing this country run so deeply that he could get away with saying and doing things that would have doomed any other candidate.

Remember Gary Hart, once a luminous star of the Democratic Party? He might have been elected president in 1988 if he hadn’t been photographed with a young woman who wasn’t his wife on a yacht called Monkey Business.

Hart behaved like a Trappist monk compared to the lecherous Donald, but in 2016 it didn’t matter.

None of Trump’s heavy baggage weighed him down, and in the end the same sort of folks he’s been stiffing and stepping on for his whole business career were the ones who sent him to the White House.

Also racing to the polls in startling numbers were closet racists and online paranoids excited by Trump’s cynically coded promise to “take America back.” They, too, have been suckered.

For those fearful of a Trump presidency, here’s why it’s too soon to panic. People who’ve known him a long time will tell you that, first and foremost, he’s an actor.

He has no real ideology beyond advancing his brand and fluffing his own feathers. Ironically, this might actually work to the country’s advantage.

Not so long ago, Trump the businessman was a Democrat, who in the abortion debate presented himself as pro-choice.

He also spoke out for a ban on assault rifles and in favor of longer waiting periods for firearm purchases.

He has spun 180 degrees on those conservative issues, but on others he’s hard to pin down. There were moments during the campaign when he expressed very un-Republican views about raising the federal minimum wage, for example.

Trump’s GOP opponents in the primaries mocked him for flip-flopping, saying he was basically a liberal at heart, but those accusations didn’t bother Trump’s supporters one bit.

Every established conservative ideologue that ran against him — from Jeb Bush to Mike Huckabee to Ted Cruz — got crushed.

This fact shouldn’t be overlooked by Republican Party leaders who are now gloating. They had nothing to do with Trump’s astounding victory last week. It was all him.

If you can get past the vicious, venomous rhetoric he saved for his campaign rallies — and that’s difficult to do — you detect a different tone in some of his one-on-one media interviews.

He talked about being flexible, open to compromise and negotiation. Did he mean it? Does he mean anything he says?

Trump the showman now takes the biggest stage in the world. His true personality can’t be changed, but his persona must.

Paradoxically, his monumental ego and vanity could actually move the country toward healing. Trump wants to be widely popular, and he knows he isn’t.

You can be sure he’s been watching the mass street protests on TV.

If not for the archaic Electoral College system (which Trump once scorned as a “disaster” for democracy), he would have lost the election because he got 234,000 fewer votes than Hillary Clinton.

Trump might be incapable of humility, but he’s not immune to the fear of going down in history as a divisive, ineffective president.

Like all performers, Trump loves being cheered. The question is if he’ll revamp his performance to appeal to a much broader, more diverse audience. Will he strive to appear more humane, tolerant and thoughtful?

It would be a much better act than the one we’ve been seeing.

And if it doesn’t change soon, something else will:

The price of real estate in Canada.

Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Readers may write to him at: 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132

IMAGE: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump signs autographs after a rally with supporters in San Diego, California, U.S. May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen is an award-winning journalist, commentator, and novelist. Hiaasen has worked for the Miami Herald since 1976, and his writing focuses on environmental and corruption issues in his home state of Florida.

His latest book is Skink—No Surrender (2014).

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9 Comments

  1. Dominick Vila November 14, 2016

    In all fairness, Donald Trump has dominated public opinion since he announced his decision to run for President. He manipulated the media, got hundreds of millions in free press, and controlled the narrative for over a year.

    Reply
    1. Thoughtopsy November 14, 2016

      Yes it was like watching one of those “Top Chef” shows where one of the contestants controlled the narrative by hauling animals from endangered species into his kitchen, killing them on live TV using power tools, smearing his naked body with their blood, then cooking and eating them… every week.

      No-one could look away…. but it wasn’t for good reasons.

      Reply
    2. Darsan54 November 14, 2016

      Yes, we all like a good house fire or gruesome traffic accident now and then, but running the country? I have read articles on how he and his staff were surprised the “staff” doesn’t stay with the White House. But then, when someone is only good a bankrupting businesses……….

      Reply
  2. TZToronto November 14, 2016

    Uhh, Carl, the price of real estate in some places in Canada is already out reach for many. For example, the average house price in Toronto is currently in the $700,000 range. Sure, that’s in Canadian dollars, but that’s still close to half a million in US dollars. Until recently, house prices in Vancouver were even more crazy. Anyway, Trump the performer reminds me of the Robert Redford character in The Candidate. He was a very attractive candidate who had nothing to offer. Once he won his election, he had no idea of what to do hext. Trump also has no idea of what to do next, which is why he’s appointing establishment people (Priebus) and pariahs (Bannon), crazy people (Giuliani), and dependents (family members). There doesn’t seem to be a clear pattern of appointments that identifies a consistent policy orientation, other than his lack of one.

    Reply
  3. mike November 14, 2016

    What a joke of a post.
    He ignores the divisive, and ineffective Obama. Trumps victory was made possible by obama’s 7+ years of pathetic policies. Obama’s legacy is secure. It’s one of abject failure. Foreign policy a failure, Race relations worse, he stoked racial tension as a bitter partisan, lied about Obamacare which is on life support, Less religious freedoms, middle class marginalized.We see a country with around 124 million employed and about 109 on welfare(35%), we see 14 million who have quit looking for work, have dropped out work force. Fewer full time jobs. The list goes on.
    Between Obama’s failures and and Clinton’s corruption the left got their butts kicked last Tuesday.

    Reply
    1. Thoughtopsy November 14, 2016

      Well well well… that was a giant pile of bullsh!t.
      I’ll pick one thing out of the morass just so I can laugh at you:
      “Less religious freedoms”…. really?
      Just because your “I hate fags” religious discrimination laws were ignored in civil society, where, if you choose to engage in business activity, you are required to treat all people equally?

      How do I know it’s religious discrimination NOT religious “freedom”?
      Because freedom allows people to be free… your “freedom” comes at the cost of demonising and discriminating against other people.
      Do it in your f**king Westboro Baptist church. Not in your company or workplace.

      Because if you walked into a store and asked the shop keeper if you could purchase some item or service, and he or she took a good long look at you and said:
      “Sorry I don’t serve dumbf**k rednecks in here. In my religion we can’t “give aid, service or succor” to those who fail a basic standard of morals or intellect.”

      Would you feel judged?
      Would you feel unfairly labelled?
      Would you feel discriminated against?
      Would you rage, and cry, and demand that you be treated the same as other smarter people who were being served while you stood there looking shunned?

      Yeah.

      The Daily Show did a great piece where they took a Food Truck to North Carolina? I think it was (somewhere with Religious discrimination laws) and when people came up to the window, told them they looked gay, and they wouldn’t serve them due to their religious beliefs.

      I suggest you watch it.
      It’s highly instructive watching blind bigoted white people looking aghast that their discrimination laws can be applied to them.

      The rest of your post is also bullsh!t, but that was the most amusing part.
      I suggest you try some basic education, and a course on rational thought.

      Reply
      1. mike November 15, 2016

        Well! Well! Well! Your post is exactly why the left took a beating last Tuesday.
        Because of your arrogant and condesending attitude fostered by your secular progressives agenda the left lost everything. Presidency, House Senate, SCOTUS. The left is only tolerant when one agrees, disagree and the intolerance comes full force.
        I can name many attacks on our religious freedoms but here are few.
        Hobby Lobby, Sisters of the Poor, Catholic Church adoption agency that was forced to close its doors because it’s biblical stance on placing children with only hetersexual couples. Houston ordering a minster turn over his sermons, Boston threatening to prevent Chick-fil-A from opening store because their stance on the definition of Marriage.
        As to Bakers or the photographers stance being force to participate-or even better-celebrate the act which indicates approval, and a rejoicing with the couple to be married is wrong. Whether a Christain doe or does not agree to these services to same-sex couples should remain a matter of conscience and to not to be by law. Most distressing is the follower of Islam, Star Transport, a trucking company in IL who was sued for violatiing Fed. Law for terminating 2 Muslims drivers , who on religious grounds, refused to drive a truck that transported alcohol. Perfect example of muslims being accomodated but the beliefs of Christains not.
        No Religious freedoms are being lost and under constant attacks from the secular progressive that’s a fact.
        Your refusal to acknowledge the rest of my post just shows how far you have your head where the sun doesn’t shine.
        So obama never lied about Obamacare on costs, right?
        Race relations better, right?
        Heck you’re not worth my time. Ta Ta

        Reply
    2. Darsan54 November 14, 2016

      Interesting. The Republicans never seem to be present during the last eight years. Like the Devil*. they have convinced you they don’t exist.

      *an insult to Satan with the comparison. Apologies. Satan serves a useful purpose in the universe.

      Reply
  4. Darsan54 November 14, 2016

    Brother Carl, I hope the hell you are right. However, I suspect the Dump just likes the spotlight period. If he can get there for being a vile, inane, morally bankrupt cretin, well no problem, that’s a role he can play. And as a morally vacuous hole in the universe, then Republiclans Ryan and McConnell will happily sell him on the virtues of their plans to sell the US to the highest corporate bidders. I can’t even hope for any good, I only expect the worst.

    Reply

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