The Two-Trick Pony


Donald Trump has an exceedingly simple playbook as President. His two tricks are [1] control over tariffs and penalties and [2] hiring and firing Presidential appointees. As his recent misadventures in foreign policy illustrate, we should probably be grateful that he’s up to now been willing to limit his tricks to the first two.

When it comes to tariffs and trade, bluffing may work once or twice. Being the real estate tycoon, he claims to be, Trump obviously uses this trick because he can exert complete control and try to ‘scare’ other countries into playing the game his way. But, once his bluff is called—as it now has been by China—that game is finished.

Presidential appointments famously serve “at the pleasure of the President.” But, when Trump recently fired a 30-year professional woman Ambassador without any visible cause, the world spoke out. So that trick is over as well.

There are a few other so-called ploys like distraction, obfuscation and simple confusion. Those are the everyday running plays, that do not rise to the level tricks. But they do throw up a lot of dust.

So, what is left in Trump’s play book?

Throwing out the whole rule book entirely! I will grant that the Constitution is old, creaky and out of date. But Trump makes the case to ignore it by simply asserting that impeachment is illegal because it seeks to undo a legal election. No kidding! Indeed that is what it is supposed to be able to do!

He is said not to read much. Perhaps someone should risk their job by suggesting to him that he read the Constitution!

The almost daily disclosures of new examples of Trump’s abuse of power, and his own very public unraveling in the face of growing public support for impeachment and disgruntled Republicans in Congress, suggest that Trump is going to need a new trick: magically making himself disappear.

The alternative will be certain removal from office at the hands of either Congress or voters, with the additional likelihood of jail time in his post-Presidential career.


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