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Should Donald Trump spend his ‘Executive Time’ learning how to empathise?

There is no malignant phrase Trump is not ready to utter

October 29, 2018

4:49 PM

29 October 2018

4:49 PM

This morning Matt Drudge tweeted, ‘A segment on Fox News this morning where hosts laughed and joked their way through a discussion on political impact of terror was bizarre. Not even 48 hours since blood flowed at synagogue? Check your soul in the makeup chair!’ A new Gallup poll indicates that one week before the midterms, a number of voters may also be checking out from supporting Donald Trump. His numbers dropped from a 44 per cent approval rating a week ago to 40 per cent.

Trump has made the elections a referendum on himself, which means that he has bet the house, so to speak, on whether or not the GOP retains the Senate and House. If it does, he emerges as America’s strongman. He can fire Robert Mueller with impunity, denude the FBI and Justice Department of recalcitrant employees and move to end Obamacare for real. He would be hailed as a seer, a great man who had presided over an even greater victory for the GOP.

Though he may not have Steve Bannon at his side, Trump is pursuing the very strategy he concocted for the 2016 campaign with single-minded fervour. Trump may not work at being president — Politico reports that he spends up to nine hours a day on ‘Executive Time,’ a euphemism for watching cable TV, tweeting and chatting with his chums — but he is working at remaining president. In Great Contemporaries, Churchill said of Lord Rosebery, ‘He would not stoop; he did not conquer.’ Trump, by contrast, remains in a permanent crouch.

There is no malignant phrase that he is not ready to utter, no reputation that he is unprepared to calumniate, no perfidy that he will fail to perform. Today, Trump, who built a financial empire on chicanery, denounced Florida Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum as a crook: ‘In Florida there is a choice between a Harvard/Yale educated man named @RonDeSantisFL who has been a great Congressman and will be a great Governor – and a Dem who is a thief and who is Mayor of poorly run Tallahassee, said to be one of the most corrupt cities in the Country!’ What Gillum has stolen Trump did not say.

But Trump’s greatest target is, of course, the press, which he decried as the ‘true Enemy of the People’ today. In her press conference, Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubled down on this line of argument, declaring that the president was elected by an ‘overwhelming majority of voters,’ which is false, and that he has been ‘delivering day after day,’ which is debatable.

Questioned about who constituted enemies, Sanders responded, ‘Those individuals know who they are.’ In lashing out at the media, Sanders not only paid obeisance to Trump, but reaffirmed that he sees any and all criticism of him as tantamount to disloyalty to America.

She also indicated that Trump, together with Melania, plans to visit Squirrel Hill on Tuesday, where a white nationalist murdered eleven worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue. His visit may turn into a PR disaster, however, if locals protest it. Over 30,000 people have signed an open letter stating that he is not welcome unless he decries white nationalism. The White House has declined to comment on the letter.

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