As children we learn early to distinguish between fabrication and truth. Children have a unique ability to tell the difference between pretense and honesty. As we get older we learn to distinguish between a slick used car salesman and someone who is honest and sincere. We are told by those who are older and more experienced that these are important lessons to learn because there are all too many people out there who would like to take advantage of our trusting nature. Yet it seems that when it comes to politics there are many of us who quickly forget those early childhood lessons and willfully allow ourselves to be swayed by the flimsiest and most baseless rhetoric. Thirteen million Republican primary voters allowed it to happen to them and now we have Trump to thank them for.
The campaign Donald Trump ran during the primary season was filled with baseless personal attacks, half-truths and not so subtle inferences. It was heavy on bombast and light on substance. When challenged to explain how he would achieve the many goals he stated he just said believe me, it will be the best ever. When challenged to explain how he would reach these superlative goals he explained that he couldn’t give that information away but believe him, it will be great, the greatest. The fact is that thirteen million Republican primary voters did believe him. But primary season is over. Trump won the top position in the big leagues-he’s now the party nominee. At this level the performance expectations are higher and more sophisticated. The audience is broader and, in many cases more knowledgable and aware. Additionally, being placed at the top of the ticket creates additional expectations and responsibilities that didn’t exist darting the primary season. The future hopes and dreams of the entire Republican party are dependent on Trumps ability to succeed. The big question is how this opportunistic narcissist will react to the new world that currently confronts him.
Since his less-than stellar convention Trump has favored us with two “very important” policy speeches. We knew that they were important because they were among the rare occasions in which he used a teleprompter. The world awaited with great anticipation the words on the economic and foreign relations plans for the future that would be spoken by the Republican nominee for President of the United States. As we watched and listened we heard many platitudes and a great deal of bombast. However, any professional economist or member of the national security community who listened is still awaiting the substance. He presented these speeches with great seriousness and a brevity rarely seen in this candidate. Yet, neither speech contained a realistic and fact-based prescription for an American economy or foreign relations plan for the future. These speeches proved once again that Trump is a “light weight” when it comes to truly understanding the intricate and complex issues confronting our nation and the world. This is not information that is easily attained through a life as a businessman. However what is quite clear is that not only doesn’t he know, but it is jarringly evident that he doesn’t have the intellectual curiosity or self-discipline to learn.
The Trump campaign has just gone through another reorganization. They say that it is an expansion, but we have learned to distinguish the used car salesman from the honest sincere person, so we know it is a reorganization. But the fact that there is a campaign reorganization isn’t the issue. Most candidates go through this process during a hard-fought campaign. What is key here is that the campaign has reorganized to move away from the traditional and has moved again toward a more bombastic and innuendo-based direction. It has moved away from the “general election pivot” to “letting Trump be Trump”. It is obvious that there is nothing beyond the bombast. What we’ve seen is what we’ve got. There is no meat to fill in the empty plates. Yet, let’s not forget that thirteen million voters like what they see. That is perhaps the most frightening fact of all.