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Trump Goes Back to his Box of Magic Tricks

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

President Trump Signs an Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship 
(of QAnon, and US/Nazi propaganda).  Oh are they happy!
President Trump Signs an Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship (of QAnon, and US/Nazi propaganda). Oh are they happy!
(Image by The White House)
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I have written on this subject on a number of occasions. Trump, as his niece and numbers of others have told us, is not very bright, is poorly educated, very limited emotionally, and very mean and nasty. As I said myself in a column back in 2018:

"Trump has a particular way of acting, very well known to everyone, that all started in the way he was brought up, particularly by his father (and I am not about to say here anything that any objective observer doesn't already know). He is a bully. He is poorly educated and doesn't care that he is. He is highly opinionated, without too much dependence on fact for his opinions. He is a racist from his youth. He is a faker/liar from the beginning; e.g., indeed he went to the Wharton School (likely with a paid-for entry-form) but there is no evidence (to my knowledge) that he received its graduate degree. And so on and so forth."

(Actually, as it turned out, he apparently had his SAT's taken him for him by a hired hand, and he only attended a couple of Wharton classes while at Penn.)

But as history's greatest con man he has made it all the way to the U.S. Presidency. And so, how did he do it? As detailed in the columns referenced just above, I came to the conclusion that he did it with what I called his remarkable "Box of Magic Tricks," developed over the course of his younger life. There are six of them:

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 to use when he faces an adversary of any kind. He learned it from Roy Cohn (who learned it from Joseph McCarthy): "Always attack; Never defend." (For example, just watch him deal with "Die Luegen Presse" [Hitler-speak] in his daily campaign speeches.)

3. Also learned from Roy Cohn is the mantra: "when you run into a problem, just sue." [One example? Last April 29, 2020, Trump actually threatened to sue his own campaign manager, Brad Parscale, because he, Trump, didn't like the negative poll results that Parscale was reporting to him.] 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, certainly in politics, and not just at this time. In dealing with them, his supposed "Art of the Deal" has never been about deal-making, but always about attempted opponent-crushing. Negotiation in the usual sense of the term is just not his thing.

6. Finally, Trump is history's greatest con man (as noted above).

It is well-known that when the COVID-19 pandemic (which I call the "Trumpidemic2020Â ") first appeared, Trump first down-played it, then claimed that he had prevented its entry into the U.S. from China by a travel-ban (which proved to be sieve-like), then claimed it would magically disappear --- over an ongoing series of differing deadlines --- and so on and so forth. But back in February when with Hannity etc. he was claiming that talk of an impending epidemic was all a combo "Democratic/'Fake News' " plot to deny him re-election, it turns out, as recorded on the "Woodward tapes," that privately he knew, or seemed to know, the true nature of the impending calamity.

Actually, at the same time he and Hannity were pooh-pooing the whole thing publicly, he and certain aides were telling certain financiers about the true nature of what was coming. A common reaction among them was apparently "sell short." (One wonders if Hannity --- and perhaps others at Fox"News", like its owner ---knew of this.)

OK. So, Trump really knew what was really coming. And as is well-known, and as is detailed in a variety of my columns and thousands of other since the Trumpidemic2020Â first burst through in the Northwest and New York City, he has not only done nothing effective to deal with it but has done tons of stuff to make it worse. So, the question is "why?" If he knew back in February what was about to happen, why does the United States have the worst outcomes of any developed country (e.g., click here)?

We do know that if Trump had instituted a common, well-understood, public health program (like the one that had been developed by Obama/s pandemic preparedness office that Trump dismantled) back in February-March our nation's experience would have been very different. And in my view back then Trump would have been on a glide-path to re-election. But although his one-and-only concern has always been getting re-elected, he didn't see (or was simply incapable of seeing due to the lack of both intelligence and education) that the "public health road" would do it for him.

He chose the wrong pathway, certainly for the hundreds of thousands of U.S. dead and permanently damaged (in one way or another), and very possibly for himself as well. The conclusion that I have come to, very recently, is that when, way back then, he already knew that his electoral chances were slim, he decided that the best pathway to re-election for him would be the creation of chaos. Which is precisely what he has been trying to do all along. But now, as it comes down to the last two weeks, he is trying to achieve that end most intensively by using his old reliable "Box of Magic Tricks." And so:

1. The enablers. Hannity, Carlson and their ilk are always there (although the News division of Fox is apparently backing away from the latest magic trick, the "Bidens Story," at least a bit and there are the elements of the newsroom at The New York Post who are refusing to buy in as well). But the principal enabler right now is the neuroradiologist Scott Atlas who has suddenly become an "expert" in public health and is pushing the "herd immunity" hoax (and it really is a hoax --- see just below). That is that if lots of people get sick (which with this disease means that many will die) then eventually the whole population will become immune.

But sorry folks, among other things wrong with/about Dr. Atlas (like setting himself up as a public-healther with neither training nor experience in the field), that is not what herd immunity is.

As I learned, when doing my Master of Public Health degree at Yale back in the 1960s, "Herd immunity is a concept used for vaccination, [emphasis added], in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached." The concept was actually first developed in observing herds of cows in France, about a century ago, who had been immunized against tuberculosis. When enough cows had been given the vaccine, it was found that the whole herd became, pretty much, immune. I guess that Dr. Atlas must have just missed that basic public health course in medical school. But boy, is he is enabling Trump, in actual fact in creating chaos.

(Actually, I have been thinking about setting myself up as a neuroradiologist. After all, I did graduate from medical school, still have my license, and did look at some X-rays at the time. And actually, if I hooked up with the right politician and became the national leader for re-setting radiology policy, the first thing that I would do would be to have the whole field go back to film for X-rays. They have a real feel that images on a computer screen can never manage. And then, on the "freedom" issue that Atlas, and Trump, and many others on the Right keep harping on in relation to mask-wearing, I would advocate that just like not wearing masks to protect others from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, people who feel like it should have the freedom to move their bowels into a conveniently located public water supply. That is, if so doing would make them feel "free.")

2. "Always attack; never defend." As for example, Trump's screaming attacks on Dr. Fauci and Vice-President Biden in re the public health approach to the pandemic. I will not take the time here to deal with the substance, but as with so much of what he is running on now, "Always attack; Never defend" worked so well for Trump in 2016, why would he not roll it out with guns blazing now.

3. "Just sue." I don't see any examples of his doing this vis-Ã -vis the Trumpidemic2020Â but he is creating a side-show with the E. Jean Carroll "slander" case, even getting Barr to try to do his dirty work for him on this one too. And of course, he got tons pf legal action going in his attempts to sabotage the vote. (By the way, have you noticed the following, vis-Ã -vis Barr [as I tweeted]: thepoliticaljunkies tpjmagazine: Click Here. Two reasons why Barr will very likely not respond on this one. His widely heralded investigations of both "Trump-Russia" (Durham) and "unmasking" have flopped. Barr knows he will be out of a job w/Trump, win or lose. Barr wants to work again, somewhere.)

4. As he has done for the whole of his life, Trump is totally running his own show, even if he may well be running it into the ground.

5. "Living life surrounded by enemies." First, having no understanding of what the disease really is, Trump has managed to make the SARS-Co-V-2 virus itself into an enemy. (But, you might ask, didn't what he said to Bob Woodward indicate that he did understand the disease and the impending pandemic? Well, no. He was just spouting some information that he had heard at a White House meeting which he apparently quickly forgot. If he really understood it, national policy would have been very different.) He actually sees the virus as an enemy army, against whom he can send his loyal followers as warriors to defeat it. And to the Democrats in general, and to Hillary and President Obama in particular, he has now added to his enemies list former V-P Biden, Sen. Harris, and, of all people, Dr. Fauci. Man, amazing. And of course, what do you do to enemies? "Lock 'em up!"

6. And finally, we come back to Trick 6. He is indeed "history's greatest con man." And he wants to run one last con, having run the country into the ground, with worse yet to come. He not only wants to get back to the Presidency, but he knows that if he can con his way back to it, he can become dictator, running the country the way he has always run his companies (that's Trick 4). And after a lifetime of losing, as detailed in the marvelous book (Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump), and having to rescue himself over-and-over again with one con after another, wouldn't it be great to finally win one? So what if doing so would cost possibly millions of U.S. their lives and would also mean the end of U.S. Constitutional Democracy (which he never had much truck with anyway). It would be a win, wouldn't it? And yes indeed, it would have been that Box of Magic Tricks that brought that win to him.

(Article changed on October 22, 2020 at 18:14)

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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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