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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 7/8/20

If at First You Do Succeed, Do Do It Again

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"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, August, 2018)

Fred Trump 1939. (I dunno which one it is, but we do have him to blame --- see Mary Trump's book.)
Fred Trump 1939. (I dunno which one it is, but we do have him to blame --- see Mary Trump's book.)
(Image by (From Wikimedia) Brooklyn Eagle, Author: Brooklyn Eagle)
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Many observers seem to be surprised that with Trump's July 4th Weekend speeches he has gone full-bore racist, with an extra helping of Roy Cohn-inspired red-baiting, in his quest for reelection in 2020 (which may or may not be for real). After all, we hear that privately some Republicans wish that he would at least start on another tack. And then Lindsey Graham, usually (since 2016, that is) the Trumpiest of Trumpian lap dogs, running for re-election against a moderate African-American candidate, actually, criticized Trump for his attack on NASCAR's Bubba Wallace and his (Trump's) promotion of the Confederate flag as a positive symbol of the "American Heritage." But that has not stopped Trump, at least not yet anyway.

Actually, he seems to be wading ever-deeper into the racist/White Supremacist/Up-With-the-Confederacy/the-South-Shall-Rise-Again muck. (Major question, no one is yet asking: does Trump have a huge stash of Confederate dollars that he could use to pay off the possible mountain of debt he has been hiding --- remember the tax returns, Deutsche Bank and the missed debt payments, and the Russian cash, etc., folks.) Leaving aside for the moment the speculation that I and an increasing number of other observers have been making that Trump will actually not run this year, suppose that he really is. Then why is he doing what he is doing --- running on a clearly racist platform, with, as I said above, an increasingly smelly dose of red-baiting?

(Side note: One must wonder why the mainstream media, even the left-leaning MSM like MSNBC, including their guest commentators, African-American and other as well, for the most part shy away from using the terms "racist" and "racism" to describe Trump and the bilge he spews. Sure, he uses code words and code phrases. But everyone, especially his followers, knows exactly what he means. So why not say it, instead of more polite formulations like that he is "responding to white grievance"?)

As I have written previously, Trump has gotten through life, all the way to the Presidency of the United States using what I have called his "Six Magic Tricks." They are:

1. He has always had one or more protectors and enablers, either personal, or financial or both.

2. For decades he has had a standard operating procedure when he faces an adversary of any kind. He learned it from Roy Cohn (who learned it from Joseph McCarthy): "Always attack; Never defend." (Just watch him deal with "Die Luegen Presse" [Hitler-speak] in his daily campaign speeches. And notice how every one of his close aides, like for now Kayleigh McEnany, is totally skilled in the technique too. One wonders if they go to school for it or if having it as an innate quality is the first requirement for being a Trump hire.)

3. Also learned from Roy Cohn is the mantra: "when you run into a problem, just sue." You may not win, and it may cost you some money. But a) you might win and b) with the endlessness with which civil litigation can be drawn out in the U.S. legal system, the other side may just get worn out.

4. In the whole of his business life, Trump has never been responsible to anyone else, either above him (except for Dad, of course) or even alongside.

5. Trump has lived his life surrounded by enemies (real or imagined --- if he doesn't have them in reality, he makes them up), whether in business, in his personal life, in his banking and financial life (except for a select few, like Deutsche Bank), certainly in politics, and not just at this time. In dealing with them his "Art of the Deal" has not been deal-making, but attempted opponent-crushing. Negotiation is just not his thing.

6. Finally, Trump is history's greatest con man (a subject to which I have devoted a whole column).

In the 2016 campaign, which featured racism (mainly anti-Latino, but with of course a touch of "birtherism"), Islamophobia and xenophobia in general, the main tricks from the above list that he used were: 2. "Always attack; Never defend;" 4. Not responsible to anyone besides himself; 5. Being surrounded by enemies, real and imagined; and of course 6. the skills of History's-Greatest-Con-Man.

Does Trump consciously think about his box of magic tricks? One cannot be sure. But since he is obviously one of the least self-conscious persons ever to walk the face of the Earth (in the sense of having the ability to see himself and how he functions from a perspective outside of his own mind), that is unlikely. And in this election season his Box of Tricks have become more important to him than ever. Why? That can be summed up in two words: The Trumpidemic2020©. Of which he has made, as my English friends like to say, a complete balls-up.

As I have explained at length previously, it is quite obvious that he does not know what a virus is. Therefore, he cannot possibly understand how the disease is spread, what its disease-consequences are, and how its spread can be controlled and its patients treated. He sees it as an enemy, of course, but since he cannot comprehend a virus, he converts it into a number instead. Which is why he so dead set against any national program for organized testing, and actually talks about bringing the case numbers down by not testing, as if a case of viral infection would not exist if it were not discovered by a test. (Furthermore, he is under orders from the Club for Growth and the Chamber of Commerce not to engage in any national planning to deal with it. But that is another story.)

And so we have the outcomes we have in terms of case-numbers spiraling out-of-control, deaths the same, the health care delivery systems in successive parts of the country being overwhelmed, the serial shortages of everything from test kits (that work) to PPE's, and so on and so forth. Compared to what has happened in most of the rest of the developed world (and in certain less-developed countries as well) the outcome here is an ever-worsening disaster. And since the chief executive of this country took an entirely course to dealing with the oncoming epidemic from that of the chief executive almost every other country that has dealt with the outbreak successfully, we know who to blame.

Trump does too, of course, at the level of his sub-conscious. Which is why he is trotting out with increasing ferocity his racism/red-baiting-based election strategy that is the product of Magic Tricks 2, 5, and 6. With them, he has created of one his favorite political tactics, the construction of his own WMD, that is Weapon of Mass Distraction. So as the country is pulled down into ever-expanding disaster that is the Trumpidemic2020©, and what will become the TrumpDepression of 2020-21, the pressure to "Look Over There" builds evermore strongly. Which is precisely what he is doing.

For of course he distracts his base from what is hitting them ever-harder as the Trumpidemic2020© moves into the "Red States." And he distracts the media, at least in part, from that focus as well. For every minute that his "press secretary" can spend fighting off questions about his racism and his racist campaign are minutes that she doesn't have to spend fighting off questions about his disastrous policy (if you can call it that) for dealing with the epidemic and the resulting economic collapse.

In summary, there are three reasons why Trump is doing what he is doing in his current campaign. 1. He is a racist and has been since childhood (learning from his father's knee about discriminatory housing policies). 2. Racism worked for him last time around. 3. Since he has not the foggiest notion of how to deal with pandemic in any way that could be at least partially effective, he has got to distract-distract-distract. The more focus there is on him and his racist campaign, both negative and positive, the less focus there will be on the continuing-without-end-in-sight Trumpidemic2020© and his responsibility for it and the economic disaster that is facing the nation as a result of his mismanagement of it.


Post-script: And yes, despite all of the above, I do think that he is going to quit the race, after he gives his race-baiting riff a whirl for a while? Indeed I do. Trump has been a gambling man his whole life. But as far as we know he has most often gambled with other peoples' money (and often lost it, but that's another story). Sometime in the next few weeks he will come to the realization that the gamble of winning the Presidency again, this time with his own money on the line, however much or little of it there may be, is simply a risk not worth taking. And it (as well as, possibly, his personal freedom) would be on the line should he lose, because of the host of legal problems he would face if he remains in the country, even with a Pence pardon in hand for Federal crimes (which would certainly be challenged anyway). Think New York state, local (NYC, D.C.), and civil actions. And so, as I have said previously, not only will he not run (for the Presidency), but he will take his money and run (out of the country) while he still can.

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a “Trusted Author,” he is a Senior (more...)
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