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Do Trump's '6 Magic Tricks' Still Work? Well, No."

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

Trump. See .Magic Trick No. 6.
Trump. See .Magic Trick No. 6.
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As regular readers of mine know, I have been writing on what I have termed "Trump's Six Magic Tricks " for quite some time, most recently just last November. The Six are the tricks of thought (to the extent he does that sort of thing) and behavior that have guided him through every success (that is success in his [and his father's] terms) in his life from real estate, through politics, to governing. (That is governing in/on his terms, for government is/was something in which he has never been much interested).

One or more of the Six have also gotten him through/past his many failures, personal and financial. Using one or more of them, in one way or another, by hook or by crook, Trump has always come up on top --- up to now. This time around, several of them simply aren't working for him, and thus I don't think that he is going to make it, at least at the level of success to which he thinks he is entitled. And of course, "entitlement" has been a driver for him since childhood.

As it happens, during his most recent crisis --- his 2020 loss and its aftermath ---- Trump has focused on his continuing campaign, one that as is well known centers on complaining that "the vote was rigged" and that somehow "he is still the President." Despite the fact that he is, by law, tan (Ooops! That is how I actually typed it the first time 'round) ex-President, he has added nothing new to his package of offenses and defenses. As it happens, the wide ramifications of that narrow focus, plus the fall-out from the Attempted Insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, have the tide turning against him, politically for sure, and personally perhaps. Why not? It is because in my view, as we shall see below, he does not have all of the Six Magic Tricks working for him this time.

(On a side note, whether or not he even physically survives the current challenge as a 76-year-old man depends upon whether or not his high level of negative-health risk factors --- overweight, high fat diet, no physical exercise, and very high constant internal and external stress level get to him in one way or another. That is matter upon which I will not speculate here. However, it is something that his coterie, still quite large, of public, political, private, and financial supporters might want to consider. I would be surprised if some of them are not doing so already.)

Further endangering him and possible future success, this crisis is qualitatively different from any of the others he as ever faced, such as: his failed real estate deals, his Atlantic City bankruptcy (out of which he was partially bailed by then-N.J. Governor Chris Christie), his failed businesses (such as Trump Airlines, Trump Steaks, and Trump University), the charges of assault, battery and worse leveled at him over the years by numbers of women, the "Stormy Daniels Case," The "Billy Bush Tapes," and so on and so forth. Those were all single-issue/focus episodes. This one is obviously not.

To review, here are Trump's Six Magic Tricks.

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 Joe McCarthy): "Always attack; Never defend."

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 (or runout of money for lawyers' fees [which Trump, for one reason or another, never seemed to do]).

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. In the end, he has still been able to escape from one legal (and other) scrape after another, as long as he has had a fixer, on his own.

5. Trump has lived his life surrounded by enemies, 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. He has thrived on that state-of-being. In dealing with his enemies/adversaries, as he told us in the "Art of the Deal," the key to winning for him has never been actual deal-making, but rather attempted opponent-crushing. Real negotiation is just not his thing.

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

So, let's see which of the above "Six" might, or might not, apply to Trump in the present legal-political mess in which he finds himself.

The first one, having an important male role-model/protector has been central to his defenses and his financial and pollical survival his whole life. First, of course, it was his father. Second, and the most important one after his father, was Roy Cohn, fellow political-assaulter to Joe McCarthy (and technically his Counsel). Sometime after Cohn came Michaà l Cohen, who was Trump's personal attorney and self-styled "fixer" from 2006 to 2018, when Cohen pleaded guilty to a variety of counts of financial fraud in order to serve the minimum prison-time in comparison with what he would have faced if he had gone to trial and been convicted (which Cohen, the lawyer, felt that Cohen the Fixer surely would have been). And of course, turned states-evidence to the extent that he could.

Next, Trump hoped, would come Jefferson [read "Davis," read Confederate General] Beauregard Sessions. {Just a fun note. I think that Sessions' parents likely named after those two heroes of the Confederate States of America.} However, as reactionary as Jeff Sessions was, he wouldn't engage in all of the legal (and likely illegal) maneuverings that Trump wanted him to. So, wailing "where's my Roy Cohn(?)" Trump fired him. Then of course, Trump got his "Roy Cohn" at the Justice Department, Bill Barr. His work covering up for Republican Presidents charged (or possibly charged) with crimes went back to GHW Bush and the residue of "Iran-Contra."

Perhaps Barr's most famous "work" on behalf of Trump was his to-become-famous mis-representation of the Mueller Report at the time of its release. Eventually Mr. Mueller and the House Judiciary Committee eventually got around this, but while the Report contains evidence for about 75 instances of Trump-campaign-Russia collusion and 6-8 instances of Trump obstruction of justice, unfortunately in my view (and that of many others) to date nothing has been done with that evidence. Barr's muddying the waters, and giving Fox"News" and etc. many "false" talking points, was a major factor in in "making the whole thing go away." But, over the "the election was stolen" fraud, even Barr has abandoned Trump. Since then, Trump has tried a variety of others lawyers, like Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, and Sidney Powell. But he has found no lawyer that can fill Roy Cohn's shoes.

Then there is Mark Meadows, formerly nothing more than a far-right-wing leader of the all-icing/no-cake Tea Party who eventually got to be Trump's last White House Chief of Staff. He was stupid enough to turn over about 8,000 documents to the January 6th Committee before he woke up to what he was doing (and the Committee has made excellent use of those documents[!]). As for the ever-present Roger Stone, he doesn't make it up to the Significant Man level either. Over the years, Stone has worked more like a high-level-bodyguard-fixer-lobbyist [most recently an allegedly possible active organizer of the Insurrection], just as he has filled that role for many-a-Republican politician since the early 1970s. My impression of Stone is that he has always thought that he was more important in Republican politics that he was in reality.) Ginni Thomas is a special case, given her co-seat on the Republo-fascist Supreme Court. But we do not yet know where that track might lead. So as of this writing at least Trump has no one to fill the "Magic Trick No. 1" role.

As for Magic Trick No. 2, "Always Attack; Never Defend," it is right out front, where it has always been. On his first return to Washington, D.C. after the failure of the Insurrection, in a planned major speech, except for such minor defensive thrusts, such as: " 'They have me throwing food,' Trump told the crowd. 'I don't throw food in the White House. I don't throw food anywhere. I eat the food' " Trump was clearly in attack mode, e.g.:

A. "Trump said he had watched Thursday night's hearing, which focused on what he was doing while the violent mob breached the Capitol as Congress was certifying Joe Biden's 2020 election win. The former president called it a "hoax."

B. "He also railed against Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who told the members of the Jan. 6 committee that Trump pressured him, without evidence, to say the 2020 election was fraudulent. Trump called Bowers 'a RINO coward who participated against the Republican Party' during the June hearing.

C. "Where does it stop? Where does it end? Never forget: Everything this corrupt establishment is doing to me is all about preserving their power and control over the American people, for whatever reason. They want to damage me in any form so I can no longer represent you."

D. " 'If I stayed home, took it easy, if I announced that I was not going to run any longer for political office, the persecution of Donald Trump would immediately stop,' he added. 'They're coming after me because I'm standing up for you.' "

As for Magic Trick No. 3, "sue, sue, sue," which he has used successfully so many times, it doesn't seem to have any applicability here. Who could he sue, and for what? His well-practiced "when-in-trouble-just-sue-brain" may come up with something, and since he all of sudden seems to have tons of money collected through his on-line "Stop the Steal" and etc. campaigns, he may well come up with a lawyer willing to represent him on such a fantasy. But none has yet surfaced. (On a minor matter, he did sue on the release of The National Archive documents, but that got nowhere.)

As for Magic Trick no. 4, legally he is getting in deeper and deeper, as the present U.S. Attorney General has just revealed to us. Nevertheless, he feels no sense of responsibility to anyone, for sure. But this time around, since he was President at the time the attempted insurrection occurred, with mounting evidence that he actually took the lead in facilitating it. Thus it is becoming more and more obvious that he bears major responsibility for what happened. And so, Magic Trick No. 4, ignoring responsibility for anything, can easily work for him here. But in this monstrous case, doing so will just make everything worse for him, not better.

And then there is Magic Trick no. 5, being always surrounded by enemies, which in the past has always mobilized him to greater levels of antagonism, anger, and arrogance. This time too this trick is just not working for him. There are too many of them, even for him, and they are positions of power in the Legislative and Executive branches of the government. More importantly, they do not respond to his anger, attacks, and earlier in the game attempts to undermine their legitimacy on the one hand, and power on the other. He can rail away and poof, noting happens in the House of Representatives, the Justice Department, and also in the media which, in the anti-Trump/pro-bourgeois-Constitutional-democracy sector seems just to keep on doing their respective jobs

Finally, we come to Magic Trick No. 6: Trump is history's greatest con man. As I said in part in an earlier column:

"[U]sing his highly-mastered Art of the Con, Trump always managed to win whatever was the current battle in which he was engaged. Or at least he managed to convince himself that he had won. Then he was able to project whatever 'winning' was at the time onto both his public- and self-image. This was because his losses never seemed to really cost him, or at least cost him much (see above, the note on Magic Trick No. . . . . He was somehow or other able to present them to that part of the public that was interested in such things, or totally devoted to him, as 'wins.' The Art of the Con, absolutely mastered by Trump, always seemed to work. Indeed, 'completely unqualified in any conventional sense for the job, he conned his way into the most powerful position on Earth.' "

The present version of this con is of course that "the election was stolen." And as is well-known millions of U.S. believe that and will continue to believe that, for a variety of reasons (beginning with the racism that has been at the center of Trump's whole expedition into the world of politics). But of course, this con will not work on the forces which are presently confronting him, and which will possibly be charging him with one or more criminal offenses. And thus, Magic Trick No. 6 will not work in the present poltico-legal context. Unless a future Republo-Fascist Congress and Administration completely reverses the present course of events, Trump will be going down. Why, when through the use of the Six Magic Tricks he has gotten out every major conflict, from minor to major, that the has previously faced? Because this time around not just one or two but four of the Six Magic Tricks, in whole or in part --- are not working for him.

Of course, as I have said previously, that Republo-fascist train is roaring down the track, which may lead to a continuation of the political/power life of Donald J. Trump. But again, that outcome will be due to political and Right-wing-ruling-class factors-powers outside of Trump himself, which factors-powers find Trump as a symbol, useful to them, not to the magic of any of Trump's Six Magic Tricks. That is, if he somehow gets out of this mess, and even returns to power, that will not be due to his use of the Magic Tricks. It will be due to financial and electoral power wielded by the worst of the Republo-fascist ruling class. And then, Trump would no longer be in control. He indeed would be a puppet of his controllers. "What then?" would be the subject for another column.

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY). As well as having been a regular political columnist on several national websites for over 20 years, he is the author/co-author/editor/co-editor of 37 books Currently, on the columns side, in addition to his position on OpEdNews as a Trusted Author, he is a regular contributor to From The G-Man.  In the past he has been a contributor to, among other publications, The Greanville PostThe Planetary Movement, and Buzzflash.com.  He was also a triathlete for 37 seasons, doing over 250 multi-sport races.  Among his 37 books (from the late 1970s, mainly in the health, sports, and health care organization fields) are, on politics: The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022; A Futuristic Novel (originally published 1996; the 3rd version was published by Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, Brewster, NY, sadly beginning to come true, advertised on OpEdNews and available on  (more...)
 

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