Over the past weekend, I revisited the interview in its entirety between Donald Trump and Bill O’Reilly as seen on The O’Reilly Factor Wednesday through Friday of last week. “The Donald” (does anyone call him that anymore) seems to be everywhere on talk shows lately as he’s fueling speculation as to whether he’ll run for President in 2012. So given the latest round of his domestic and international perspectives as to what he’d do if he were President, does he have the traction to at least make this upcoming campaign season more entertaining, or will be the 2012 version of Ross Perot.
Why is he getting all this airplay? Why the attention? In my opinion, two reasons. The first, he’s pressing hot buttons for many citizens who agree with his “I don’t like the direction my country is going.” And yes, we hear that every election cycle, so why is this any different. Everyone knows Trump to be the quintessential self-promoter, who blends self-hyperbole with fact. But, what he isn’t, is a professional politician. Nor is he a lawyer. He’s a businessman. And whether one agrees or disagrees with how he does business, Trump knows what it takes to run a business successfully and most importantly, how to read a balance sheet.
As a former boss of mine used to say, “no guts, no glory”, which leads to the second reason, leadership. Right now, people are uneasy and feeling there’s a void. Contrasts are being drawn perceptively, as well as subconsciously, between Trump and the current leadership in both Congress and the White House. Trump has created a persona of knowing how to make decisions and get things done. There’s plenty of Trump bluster, which I think would be curbed if he decides to formally commit to the campaign. But there’s also a shrewdness, honed by years of negotiation and the ability to work with people, that counters the bravado. And when he says, “I’ll make America respected in the world again”, you can hear from the tenor of his voice that he really believes this lack of respect is the root cause of many of our national and international problems.
In listening to the 30 minute interview he gave to O’Reilly, there are several of comments I tend to agree with, while realizing that some of his answers raise more questions. “We’re rebuilding China at our expense.” His proposed solution is to slap a 25% import tariff on all Chinese-made goods coming into the US, which should result in a) making it profitable for American companies to compete with the Chinese, thus encouraging growth and job creation; and b) show the Chinese we are serious about their ending their currency manipulation.
However, what Trump doesn’t adequately address is what China might do in return. The US is still the largest importer of Chinese goods, but they hold $1.1 trillion of our public debt. If the Chinese were to dispose of a portion of that debt, or let their currency, the RMB a.k.a. yuan float, thus curbing their need for excess US dollars, who steps in to fill the void? As long as we do not address our deficit spending and balance our budget, we need entitites to buy our debt, which in turn affects how we conduct our foreign policy.
Trump’s positions on Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan are no less controversial. In short, get out of Afghanistan, but stay in Iraq. His thesis on Afghanistan is probably what most Americans already believe. The moment we leave, the Taliban takes over, and brutalizes the population back into submission. In Iraq, similar case, we leave, and Iran increases its subversive activities with its eye on the prize, Iraqi oil. Trump’s position, “if anyone is going to get Iraq’s oil, it’s going to be us.” Hence, an unending mission occupying the Iraqi oil fields. Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden is still free, only most likely somewhere in Pakistan. Trump’s solution, no more foreign aid to Pakistan until they hand him over to us.
His domestic positions? Anti-gay marriage, pro-life, militarizing the border to stop illegal immigration and the burgeoning drug trade, a simple, more fair tax code, less regulation, including Wall Street. As for the birth certificate issue, I’m surprised that Trump is bringing this to the forefront as strongly as he is. Because unless he has some facts that we don’t, this issue may come back to haunt him, if it’s not marginalizing him with some voters already.
So, is Trump viable? Polls show he’s doing well in New Hampshire. If Trump is serious about running, he’ll have to show us a different side of Donald Trump. Trump has a lot of baggage, and that means addressing his own flaws (his business deals which will prove unending fodder for the press). His ‘shoot from the hip’/ buy ‘em off approach rings hollow for many voting blocs, so dropping the bombast, and doing his homework on key issues will connect him better with the voters and taken more seriously. Otherwise, in 2012, he could go down as The “Political” Apprentice.