Donald Trump Fails, Again.The orange emperor has no clothes.

Donald Trump Fails, Again

The orange emperor has no clothes.

Donald Trump has failed at most things he's tried to do in life, with the crucial exception of selling himself as a success.

Consider his business record over the past thirty years. In 1988, he bought Manhattan's Plaza Hotel for over $400 million — at the time "an unprecedented sum for a hotel," according to The New York Times. A few years later it was in bankruptcy protection. His casino company went bust, dragging the economy of Atlantic City down with it. Trump Airlines failed; the president defaulted on the loans he took out to buy it. Trump University was a con; he settled a lawsuit over it for $25 million.

The Trump name removed from his Atlantic City casino in 2014. His name was similarly removed from all the buildings along Riverside Boulevard in NYC. Trump won only 10% of the vote in NYC in 2016.

But as a self-marketer, Trump is peerless. He convinced people that he was a self-made tycoon despite receiving at least $413 million in today's dollars from his father, much of it, as The Times has reported, through legally dubious tax dodges. He was cast a paragon of business acumen on "The Apprentice" when most banks refused to lend to him. And then, to America's enduring disgrace, he was able to use his fictional reality-TV persona as a steppingstone to the White House.

Trump's fluke election was such an astonishment that it lent him an almost magical aura, making him seem less an idiot than an idiot savant, a man who could transcend the usual rules of politics.

But Democratic victories in the midterms, in addition to providing a crucial check on Trump, have highlighted what a naked emperor he really is. It turns out you can't desecrate democratic traditions and insult most of the country with impunity. Trump's mystique is irrevocably tarnished.

It's not just that Democrats flipped more seats than they had in any election since Watergate, or virtually wiped out the Republican Party in Orange County, Calif., a birthplace of modern conservatism. While some Trump sycophants — like incoming Florida governor Ron DeSantis — won, in several cases the president's interventions led directly to Democratic victories. Kyrsten Sinema became the first Arizona Democrat to win a Senate election in 30 years after Trump drove her Republican predecessor, Jeff Flake, not to run for re-election. Trump encouraged a successful primary challenge against the (very conservative) Representative Mark Sanford of South Carolina. The Republican victor then lost in an upset to Democrat Joe Cunningham. In the Kansas gubernatorial primary, Trump backed far-right Kris Kobach, known for his voter suppression schemes. Kobach won that race but lost the general; Kansas's new governor will be a Democratic woman.

The spectacle of Trump's political failure unfolded as his policy failures are starting to harm more voters' lives. Trump's first two years in office have been rife with debacles, including the botched response to Hurricane Maria and the sadistic policy of snatching undocumented children from their parents. Trump let himself be manipulated by North Korea's Kim Jong-un. He made the United States a literal laughingstock before the world.

So far, the people most directly affected by this record of misrule haven't been able to vote in national elections. It was only a matter of time, however, before Americans started feeling the material consequences of Trump's incompetence.

As NBC News reported last week, tens of thousands of veterans haven't received promised housing and education stipends because of technical glitches at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Some veterans are facing eviction and homelessness, and at a hearing last week, V.A. officials couldn't tell Congresswhen the problem would be fixed. NBC noted that the agency lacks a permanent chief information officer. Over the summer, ProPublica reported that the V.A. was being unofficially run by a trio of Trump cronies out of Mar-a-Lago.

On Monday, The Times reported on problems with the $12 billion bailout program the Trump administration created to help farmers hurt by its trade policies. Thanks to what the story called "red tape and long waiting periods," few payments have been made so far.

Under a 2007 law, people in some public service jobs are eligible to have their federal student loans forgiven after 10 years of payments. Last year, according to Department of Education data, only 96 of nearly 30,000 applicants for loan forgiveness were approved, which appears to be partly the fault of the Trump administration. Attorneys general for 10 states and the District of Columbia have written to Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos, about her department's "failure to keep its promise to borrowers."

I know it's not a precise analogy, but during the Trump administration, I've returned several times to a psychological study called "When Prophecy Fails," about how members of a millenarian U.F.O. cult reacted when no extraterrestrial saviors appeared. Most redoubled their commitment to spreading the cult's message, as if needing others to confirm their challenged faith. Most, but not all.

Many MAGA hat-wearers will probably go to their graves insisting that Trump is an agent of American redemption. But as the economy shows signs of cooling and Republicans realize, with a panic, that driving white suburban women away from their party was a bad idea, I wonder if some are finding it harder to choke back their doubts. They might have thought they were Trump's allies, or his constituents. They've only ever been his marks.

Michelle Goldberg, November 20, 2018


November 20, 2018

Post Script. When will the GOP & the MAGA followerers realize what a loser Trump is? When the Dems under #SpeakerPelosi takes over the House makes his impotence visible? Thank you, @MichelleGoldberg for this analysis. Share it, folks.

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