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First impressions last

  • Published at 07:10 pm May 4th, 2017
First impressions last

With the lowest approval rating on record of 40% since WWII for his dismal scorecard, and for constantly backtracking on campaign promises, President Trump displayed extreme incompetence and ineptitude of governance as president during his first 100 days in the White House.

It seems he has realised that he cannot thrive on bluff and bluster alone, living in a world of make belief and delusion, misinformation, and appearance stripped of reality. He confessed that he did not know that the presidency was so complicated. He must know now that there is a difference between the ease of campaigning and the struggle of governing.

A shrewd businessman turned politician, Donald Trump, a master orator, ascended the oval office riding roughshod on populist rhetorics of national pride and grandeur. He manipulated the language of popular appeal such as “America must protect its citizens to make America great again,” “Buy American and hire American,” “America is proud and strong,” “Renewal of American spirit,” “A new surge of optimism is sweeping the nation,” “My job is to represent America and not the world.”

These are echoes of the dangerous extreme right, the parochial voice of fascism reminiscent of Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco.

What makes a fascist

A sense of victimhood is essential for the rise of fascism. Fascists scapegoat and demonise other groups.

Resentment, anger, and distrust of the prevailing political and economic order is a prerequisite appeal of fascism.

Trump appealed to the sympathy of the vast majority of disenfranchised and disgruntled Americans left behind by the privileged elite class of rulers, businessmen, educated technocrats, and corporate mafias.

Soon after achieving his ambition for unassailable power as the president of the United States, Donald Trump threw away his mask of an avowed leader of the poor and downtrodden and assumed the lavish lifestyle of an authoritarian ruler.

There is no mistaking that he is, if anything, no leader of the poor underlings.

Trump has an incoherent and frightening foreign policy. Is he an isolationist? Is he protectionist? Is he an interventionist?

His weekly jaunts to his holiday resort Mar A Lago in Florida to play golf at huge expense to the public exchequer for supporting a vast paraphernalia of officers and security staff, and journey by Air Force One was not a pastime of the poor.

He betrayed the working class who voted him to power.

He said he would drain the Washington swamp of elites and lobbyists. But instead, he was mired increasingly in the swamp of billionaires in his cabinet. The visitor’s book in the White House is now a secret document to hide the name of business lobbyists to the White House.

Broken promises

He promised to provide health care within the reach of everybody by repealing and replacing Obama’s affordable health care insurance. But his botched health care bill in Congress, if passed, would have meant 24 million poor without health insurance coverage. He dismissed the reproductive choice of women by withdrawal of funding for family planning.

He said he would reach democracy at the doorstep of everybody. But he ridiculed the First Amendment. He derided dissenting journalists as a bunch of dishonest, disgusting scum, engaged in supplying fake news.

He humiliated the judiciary by threatening judges who stayed his executive order for a travel ban of refugees and others from seven Muslim countries.

Yet the ban falsified traditional American hospitality enshrined in the Statue of Liberty: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Xenophobia, Islamophobia, and bigotry strained his presidency. Yet, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Turkey were excluded from the travel ban, as Trump has business connection with these countries.

His nominee Attorney General Jeff Sessions failed to get Senate confirmation as a federal judge in 1985 for his record of alleged racist slurs. President Trump has banned H-1 visas for professionals, which only enriches the talent pool in America.

He chastised Mexico over what he claimed to be influx of criminals, meaning undocumented immigrants from Mexico. He warned of building a wall along the Mexico border with money from Mexico.

But when Mexico declined the proposal out of hand, and Congress too refused to foot the bill, he ate humble pie and disgracefully climbed down from his adventure for now. This is one of the most ignominious defeats of his many tantrums during his initial 100 days in the White House.

Chaos in the White House

When Trump realised that he clumsily handled important appointments in the White House, he fired his National Security adviser, General Michel Flynn, over a scandal of receiving financial benefits from his Russian connection.

He had to clip the wings of Steve Bannon, his chief political strategist, from his position in the National Security. The appointments of his daughter and son-in-law show great conflict of interest.

Trump cares little about fact-checking. He lied about unsubstantiated charges against Obama for wire-tapping his phone during his campaign trail. He boasted of unprecedented turn out of crowd during his swearing ceremony. He refuses to release his tax returns.

Trump has an incoherent and frightening foreign policy. Is he an isolationist? Is he protectionist? Is he an interventionist? He sends confused messages.

Far from remaining constant to his professed belief that he is president of United States and not of the world, he made belligerent noises of sabre rattling when he fired the mother of all bombs on Afghanistan, 59 cruise missiles into Syria, and dispatched an aircraft carrier to the Korean peninsula seas and deployed anti-missile THAAD in South Korea.

President Trump unveiled the biggest tax cuts in history -- a massive giveaway to millionaires and billionaires at the expense of middle class families. It would be a mockery by Trump to claim that he is a champion of poor Americans.

Trump’s 100 days of presidency was full of sound and fury signifying nothing, but holds portents of a dark future. Americans had taken leave of their senses when they elected Trump as their president.

Now, it seems that we all have to pay for their folly.

Abdul Hannan is a former diplomat.