Shorts and Briefs | 2 July 2019 | When You’re Smiling

Trump Thoughts Today This happens sometimes when I am surfing and I do my daily check as a lurker on

“ThankYouSoMuch Mr. President_#02,” Raffaello De Vito, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Trump Thoughts Today

This happens sometimes when I am surfing and I do my daily check as a lurker on Facebook. I saw two links in particular that caught my eye, to news stories in standard mainstream media sources. It really doesn’t matter which or what.

Trump gesturing in a photo at one of his rallies

He has much of the body language down. And he is not, in some objective way, not an ugly man (though obviously it’s impossible at this point in his life and his place in the cultural history of the United States to make a judgment about his looks utterly absent any preconceptions based on his known behavior and apparent character).

Clearly Trump says things about himself, and when addressing a crowd of presumed supporters—and he seems to presume that all people in listening range of his voice are supporters, or will be someday with a kind of doomed inevitability; such is the modality of all populist leaders—that make it clear that in his mind, he is a cool person. A cool dude.

The great and everlasting chagrin is that he is not cool. He can tell you expressly that he is cool. He probably does, repeatedly, and always has, somehow, though never in so many words (as if in some primitive cortex of his brain even he knows that’s something you never say expressly). He’s come close. His admission to Billy Bush, about being a star,* is as close as he gets, as if merely being notorious (I refuse to refer to him as “famous” in its genuine denotative sense) defines some hip status, never mind “stardom.”

In the context of these remarks, that is, regarding Trump’s lack of coolness, and as any number of career humorists, and avenues of institutional humor, like Saturday Night Live and The New Yorker art department (responsible for cover art and the magazines famous “drawings,” that is, its  cartoons) know full well, he is, if anything, a parody of himself. 

*How anyone who heard it or read it could forget, I’m not sure, but in case: “When you’re a star, they just let you do it [“they” are women, what you do when you “do it” is grope their genitalia, through their clothing, and sometimes, apparently, not with any intervention of habiliment if he can manage it].”

Trump saying flattering things about Kim Jung-un, especially how the shorter roly-poly one loves his people

Why is he escalating the nice things he’s saying about the dictatorial murderous tyrant he derisively dubbed, in the early days, “Rocket Man?” Because that’s his notion of what used to be called realpolitik. If it were a true backroom relationship (and not merely some species of Saudi embassy backroom rules, let’s say), he’d chuckle and say, “hey really, we’re all pals, and we know we don’t mean any of the things we say—kind of funny aren’t they? aren’t we cool?”

Trump’s first way of characterizing himself, before all else, is that he is a consummate deal-maker and negotiator. The best there is. And one of the basic tools in his deal-maker gadget bag is the butter-‘em-up tool. Say the nicest things, as if you mean it. The idea is to enable the deal, to facilitate the path sometimes means really spreading the oily charm on every square inch of it. We notice that Kim is not saying anything particularly nice about Trump—nothing that our news sources are working up.

Donald probably calculates that what Kim wants above all else is legitimacy as a serious world leader—and not merely a dictatorial murderous tyrant—which means mainly that the common wisdom about him is that he is less psychopath and more benevolent leader of his people. There’s no question of credence in anything Donald says, least of all for the sake of his own beliefs. He probably, at bottom, has no beliefs, except that he’s the greatest, in addition to being the Jesus Christ of dealmakers, and also the emperor of ice cream (why not?)

It suits his purpose in pursuit of the deal, in this case, not merely detente, but accord with the rogue nation and its even more roguish president for life. If Trump actually does bring this about, which the odds seem not at all to be in favor of, then no one will care what patent nonsense spouted from Donald—if 11,000 lies while in office thus far seems not to have slowed him down, or inspired true and effective dissent, why imagine these patty-cake make-nice platitudes about what a good guy Kim is will make a difference.

Trump would say, the words don’t matter. What matters is the result of using them and any others he deems useful.

And as for the test of what makes a successful deal, it’s any deal that is consummated that produces a result favorable to Trump, and favorable means not in any way damaging, certainly not calculable in any financial way, and certainly not as to what prevents what he has to see as his continuing and uninterrupted ascendancy in public favor on an increasingly global basis. Yesterday New York. Today, a great great America. Tomorrow the world.

3 thoughts on “Shorts and Briefs | 2 July 2019 | When You’re Smiling”

  1. Steve Lipsey

    I think his bottom line is, “Why play chess when you can play tic-tac-toe?”

  2. Steve Lipsey

    Well…so Putin clearly sees through Trump and uses Trump as he sees fit, and isn’t in the least susceptible to flattery…and rational European leaders see through him and abhor him…so only crazed demagogues are candidates for Trump’s form of “relationship management”?

    1. Well…yeah. With the proviso that to agree with your last question (that is, to answer definitively in the affirmative) is to suggest I know what Trump thinks as to who is susceptible and who isn’t. I say, with some relief, I have no idea. And further, it’s my theory that Kim is no more a sound “candidate” for persuasion in response to Trump’s transparent tactics than any other foreign leader (and for all we know, hates Trumps guts). Trump is apparently and demonstrably so simple in this regard as to act out, playing his part, in whatever he understands (and agrees to) as his role in the larger strategy drawn up by his brain trust. We should never forget, when using this expression to characterize the assemblage, that it consists of Pompeo, Bolton, Miller (who I’m sure weighs in, even on this foreign affairs issue), and the Kushner-Trumps. No doubt there are “unknown” and unsung more well-versed old hands at at least some of this stuff. But my advice is the same. Let a smile be your umbrella.

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