More than once in the past week, I have heard the idea voiced that Donald Trump is trying to sabotage his own candidacy. Interestingly, I said in the very beginning that Trump had no real desire to be president, that it was all about public relations, egomania, narcissism, and a need to be seen, to get attention. I believed that if not forced out, he would drop out quite soon. Of course, that was back in June 2015, when he first threw his hat in the ring. Here we are nine months later and the man is still in the ring … sort of.
I believed nine months ago, and I still believe today, that he has no aspirations, no desire, to actually become president. The cause for my doubt is first, that he is, first and foremost, a businessman, not a politician nor a diplomat. He likes to make money, he likes the thrill of starting a new business, but seems, based on prior experience, to tire of it after a time. Only about half of his business ventures have been successful, and those that failed he seemed to leave behind quickly, moving on to the next challenge. For Trump, the thrill is in the buck. Second, he does not tolerate criticism well and seeks to avenge those who would critique him either directly or indirectly. All we need to do is look back over the past nine months to see how he has handled criticism by his opponents, the press, and others. Then look back at all the criticism that has been directed at President Obama for the last seven years and ask yourself how Trump would handle the same level of negativity. Trump is, by his own admission, a wheeler-dealer, who has some quite radical ideas about how the country should operate, but without understanding virtually any of the issues facing our country. Nor has he made any attempt to understand those issues, which a serious candidate, one who truly wanted the job, would certainly have done long before now.
Trump, a first-class narcissist, has a deep need for admiration, an inflated sense of his own importance, and a lack of empathy for others. None of these are characteristics of a good leader. What happens when another world leader who is a loose cannon does not give Trump the admiration that he feels he deserves? We can be sure that notoriously anti-American dictators like Kim Jong-un of North Korea or Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei are not going to give him any respect, let alone praise. How would a President Trump react when he feels he is being put down or undermined? Will we see the start of World War III because the leader of one of the most important nations in the world does not feel that others are kissing his ass as much as they should be? Surely a man with the high IQ he claims to have, is aware that his temperament is not compatible with the job of president of the U.S. I cannot imagine Trump being willing to be reserved and calm when discussing foreign policy with world leaders. I cannot imagine him accepting advice from his cabinet members and other advisors. I cannot imagine him working to bridge the partisan gap in Congress. Being a world leader requires patience, something which Trump has not been blessed with. It requires strength, but also humility. It requires honesty and compassion. Without those traits, the leader of this nation is destined to fail and to bring us down with him.
I have noticed an escalation of the bad judgment that Trump is known for, and this is what makes me wonder if he is trying to sabotage his own candidacy. I do not for one minute believe that he wants the job of president, as it truly is a job with 319 million employers! I think that his candidacy started as a lark, with Trump basically thumbing his nose at the GOP, the establishment, and saying “watch this … watch what I can do!” But now, his approval rating is beginning to decline, his supporters are still waiting for some meat in the rhetoric soup, and everyone is getting tired of the bullying and violence that seems to accompany Trump wherever he goes. He is no longer able to maintain increasing popularity simply by spewing radical ideas with no policy basis. Ted Cruz has gained some momentum, and as of today, if Cruz and Kasich combined are able to get another 443 delegates, Trump will not have the magical 1,237 going into the July convention. At that point, although technically he could win in the convention’s first vote, I think it is doubtful. He does not stand a chance after that first vote. Now, I think Trump surrounds himself with analysts who have explained to him that his odds are dropping. And I further think that failure is unacceptable to him. All of which would explain why he is ratcheting up his bad behaviour with things like mocking the woman who was injured by his senior henchman. Then came his big faux pas Wednesday morning, stating that there must be “some form” of punishment for women who have abortions. (Interestinly, at one time Trump was a registered democrat who was in favor of liberal causes like abortion rights) Though he tried to back up and punt on the abortion comment, he talked in circles, leaving even the most astute analysts scratching their heads. Add another notch in Cruz’ belt. Another point for Clinton or Sanders.
There is no doubt that some of his former supporters are leaving for what they hope will be greener pastures. I think Trump is in over his head and wishes he could head for greener pastures, though being the egoist that he is, he may not believe he is in over his head. By dooming his own campaign with ever-increasingly xenophobic rhetoric, he is providing himself with a target for blame when his campaign comes to an end. He will blame women, he will blame Cruz, he will undoubtedly blame the press, though if not for them he never could have come this far. And he may even blame President Obama, who is always a good target for blame for everything from the economy to a rainy day, dirty laundry or a scraped knee.
It is true that I do not like Donald Trump. I have never liked him, but since he started this circus train nine months ago I like him even less. Still, it is almost sad to watch a train wreck of this magnitude. Note that I said almost. I even heard it said that his entire campaign was his way of handing the election to Hillary Clinton, though the source of that statement was obscure and I do not believe he would invest this much time and money to help anybody. Please pass the aspirin.