Washington: His supporters may be a “basket of deplorables”, as presidential rival Hillary Clinton suggested on the campaign trail, but Donald Trump is no basket case as his detractors have insinuated.
Twitter-thumb Trump may well be the most obnoxious egomaniac to ever occupy the White House as left liberal media paints him to be, but he is no “moron” as his exasperated Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is alleged to have once called him.
There is a method to Trump’s madness. His temper tantrums, intemperate tweets, and juvenile taunts all have a purpose: Distract, shoot and scoot. And time and again, the media has fallen for it hook, line and sinker.
Take the President’s latest rant against “shithole countries” in Africa. The alleged remark sent a nebulous bipartisan deal on “dreamers” — illegal immigrants brought to the US as children — down the toilet.
As conservative Washington Examiner aptly summed it up: “Trump was breaking ground on immigration, then it all went to shit.”
But probably that’s what he wanted to up the ante for a larger immigration reforms package that he outlined days after a short-lived shutdown of government with opposition Senate Democratic leader “Crying Chuck” Schumer throwing in the towel too soon.
Even as the media upbraided Trump for his intemperate language, he dangled new hope for the Dreamers — a path to citizenship for 1.8 million of them in return for $25 billion for his “big beautiful wall” on the Mexican border and a merit-based immigration system.
That’s part of the pattern for the author of “The Art of the Deal”. These very tactics have helped “The Donald”, as his first wife lovingly called him, notch up in just one year an impressive list of successes — good, bad or ugly! — despite the Russian “cloud” hanging over his administration.
He has instituted the biggest corporate tax overhaul in 30 years and drastically cut red tape by revoking hundreds of regulations to make it easier to do business. Trump is also rapidly reshaping the judiciary by naming a conservative judge to the Supreme Court and appointing a record 12 federal appellate judges who serve lifelong with hundreds more to come.
At home he has been rewarded by a roaring economy and a soaring stock market. Companies big and small have outlined plans to bring back profits stashed abroad and open new plants, raising minimum wages and giving $1,000 bonuses to workers.
Among them, information technology giant Apple has announced plans to invest a whopping $350 billion and create 20,000 new jobs in the US over the next five years. And corporate titans gathered at Davos too have started warming up to the “America First” President with his declaration that “America is open for business”.
Trump has also upended decades of US foreign policy, rattling allies and foes alike. Islamic State has been virtually crushed, thanks to a free hand given to the military and some help from Russia. Trump has also called Pakistan’s bluff and frozen its funding until it stops harbouring terrorists.
He has pulled out of the non-binding Paris Climate accord, approved two controversial oil pipelines — Keysone XL and Dakota access — and opened up about 90 percent coastal areas for drilling, throwing environmental concerns to the winds.
On the campaign trail, Trump had threatened to tear up the “disastrous” Iran nuclear deal on day one. But he is unlikely to follow through even as he has threatened to walk away from it after signing yet another waiver on sanctions.
Trump has recognised Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and announced plans to move the US embassy there two decades after the Senate passed a law and successive presidents signing waivers with little more than murmurs of disapproval from powerful Muslim nations.
Whether Trump’s actions would have a disastrous effect on climate change or would end hopes of a two-state solution in Palestine is moot. The point is Trump is having his way on all but a few issues.
Trump’s tantalising tweets and taunts have provided a circulation spinning bonanza to the “Failing New York Times” or Very Fake News CNN or other “Dishonest media”, as he has nicknamed them. But by falling for them they have also given The Donald a free pass.