Is Trump a madman or a genius?

Along with most of the human population, I have been struggling to find a frame of reference to look at the phenomenon of Donald Trump. To say that Trump has broken all political conventions is stating the obvious but it does not by itself answer the title question of this post. Arguably, it was following the established conventions of international politics that burdened the World with the multiple crises of ISIS, unending war in Afghanistan, nuclear North Korea, refugees flooding Europe etc. It has also instituted political correctness as a de facto speech code of the media, to the detriment of the quality of public discourse. Trump challenges this status quo and the fact he is still there seven months into the most tumultuous presidency in the recent US history forces us to consider the possibility that he is not as mad as most people think.

In the post published in November 2016 I stated that I did not like him much but:

“At some point (…) I started feeling admiration for Trump who singlehandedly took on the whole political establishment of the US. Facing pathetically biased coverage in the media, condemned to defeat by the pundits, dumped on by feminists, Marxists, LGBT crowd and activists of all sorts he just carried on. His persistence was so impressive he earned my genuine respect.”

Donald Trump has not mellowed and his war with the Fake News merchants and politically correct pundits is still in full swing. But, much as I commented, he seems completely unaffected by the incredible pressure piled on him from all angles and has even managed to get a few things done. So what are Trump’s words and actions – as opposed to the mainstream media commenting on the style of his presidency – telling us about whether he is a madman or a genius?

  1. As the multiple investigations into Trump’s purported collusion with the Russian government are scraping the bottom of the barrel his consistent denials of any impropriety are looking more and more credible. Nothing that has played out in the public arena leads me to believe that a collusion – in any definable sense of the word – has taken place. The relentlessly biased, hair-splitting, self-referencing, hysterical media coverage amplifying and endlessly regurgitating every possible rumour suggesting collusion between Putin and Trump is now looking demonstrably silly. Trump on the other hand is likely to come out of it clean. Genius.
  2. One would think that, faced with so much external pressure, Trump would gather the few remaining faithfuls around him, circle the wagons and assume a defensive position inside the White House but this is not what has happened. He is still willing to fire whoever displeases him and keeps jabbing the Fake News outlets. It defies belief that a newcomer to the world of US politics with shaky support from the party he represents keeps turning against both his own men and the mainstream media the way Trump does. Mad.
  3. If anything, Trump’s war with the politically correct speech code is intensifying. In the aftermath of Charlottesville he deliberately violated the cardinal rule of the western public life which states that anything right-wing/white/male/heterosexual/Christian must be condemned outright before any nuanced criticism of the opposite views is allowed to be expressed. Progressive elements in all their guises – including the Antifa thugs – are always morally superior to the exponents of conservative views. Regardless of what had actually happened in Charlottesville Trump had little to win by stating that the blame was shared by both sides and, predictably, he got crucified by everyone. Mad.
  4. In February 2017 in a one-on-one closed door meeting with Comey Trump passed a hint of a suggestion to drop the investigation into Flynn’s Russian affair. This exchange documented by Comey in a contemporaneous memo gave the impression Trump got dangerously close to attempting the obstruction of justice. What was he thinking? Mad.
  5. For someone new to international politics Trump’s achievements are nothing short of remarkable. He punished Assad for using chemical weapons (something Obama never had guts to do), engineered a partial ceasefire in Syria with Putin, held his own in the rhetorical confrontation with Kim and now delivered a new plan of action for Afghanistan which appears to be reasonable. Trump made the unpredictability ascribed to him by the media into an asset he uses during negotiations. Genius.
  6. Despite the public stunt of the CEOs abandoning Trump’s council the real judgement of his business policy is delivered by the US economy. The Dow Jones is at an all-time high 22% up from the election date (not that you will learn it from the CNN coverage) and the unemployment is very low. The money people see through Trump’s abrasive presidential style and have confidence he has what it takes to provide a stable environment for growth. Genius.
  7. From the beginning of his presidential campaign Trump faced the hostile mainstream media twisting his every word and depriving what he says of context. Yet, he managed to force the same media to deliver his statements to the US electorate verbatim and unaltered – 144 characters at a time. Genius.

While the jury is still out my count is 4:3 in favour of a genius. What is yours?




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