Trump’s Achilles Heel

I am more and more convinced that one of the basic keys to understanding The Donald’s operation in his new job is the simple fact that his only modus operandi is the same as the way he worked in his old occupations of (pretty sleazy) real estate developer and reality TV star: fantastically overblown PR.

It goes without saying that I have no experience in either of those fields, but it strikes me that the way Trump has enjoyed success in them is by working intensively on massively inflating his image and the image of his properties (and eventually, not his properties, but other companies’ products on which the great Trump name was pasted for a licensing fee). In the TV business, also, the trashier the show, the louder the advertising for it has to shout that it will give viewers the greatest experience of their lives.

Obviously, Trump had a great natural talent for blowing himself up (my image of him is the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters), as well as the ancillary skill of blasting the public faces of his opponents to pieces. And it is easy to understand that, after decades of building up a great fortune with these skills and using them to win a national election (in the Electoral College, anyway), he would assume that they would bring equal success in his new White House position.

However, it is often noted that the skills that make one a success in one field often don’t carry over into another one. In his current position, he needs a very different set from the ones that he is familiar with. He needs (a) deep understanding of how the federal government works, the relationships between the different branches of government and how to use them effectively, (b) the ability to work with experts in many subjects that will be involved in executive actions and legislation, (c) the ability to study and understand large amounts of information that come to him in briefings every day, (d) excellent “people skills,” beyond blustering and bullying, to get other people onto your good side and make friends and influence them (where did I hear that before?), and several others. 

Above all, though, for someone in the very dangerous legal position he is in, in the sights of a lethal investigative team of a special prosecutor, he must understand the best strategies for defending himself, relying on the advice of the best attorneys he can find. Instead, he is using mainly lawyers he is familiar with from his earlier life, who were mainly used to fire off threats to sue his opponents—threats that were almost always empty. Obviously, that is not going to help him in his present situation; nor will shooting off volleys of self-incriminating tweets every other day. 

When your back is to the wall, having only one arrow in your quiver when you need a large and varied set of weapons—and not even apparently admitting that your back is in that position—does not augur well for your survival. This guy not only does not have the qualifications to do his job; he doesn’t have what it will take to keep it.

qedd© Jon Johanning 2011