The long wait for the real Donald Trump to finally emerge has ended; it’s time to admit that what you see is what you get with a cantankerous 71-year-old man set in his ways and now becoming even more erratic each day.
For years, Trump has garnered attention by trafficking in conspiracy theories, inflaming racial tensions, insulting political opponents, and making outlandish claims with no evidence to back them up.
As he teased the public as to whether or not he would run for president in recent years, his rhetoric became more caustic and bombastic, but most dismissed it as theatre from the king of reality TV.
Trump encouraged the birther movement that claimed Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and Trump promised in 2015 that his investigators had found proof. For two years, Trump incited suspicions about Obama, and, more importantly, tried to sell the public that Obama was a closeted foreigner set on undermining our democracy. In the end, Trump delivered no proof and no apology.
When Trump launched his campaign for President and called Mexicans rapist, drug dealers, and bad hombres, his comments were dismissed as just political talk. When he labeled his opponents Lyin’ Ted, Crooked Hillary, and Little Marco, people laughed off the nicknames as playful campaign banter. Anyone that crossed Trump’s path was labeled a loser or worse, like an insecure bully on the grammar school playground.
During the campaign, when a recording surfaced of Trump making sexist and misogynistic comments, bragging that he got away with sexually harassing women in the past because he was a star, he and his supporters dismissed it as locker room talk and old news. Even his daughter failed to hold him accountable for his lewd and lascivious behavior, and millions of women ended up voting for him anyway.
Supporters promised the showman would turn into statesman after the campaign, when the weight of the office set in. He would become presidential, they claimed, and would show his serious, business-savvy side to the public, and become worthy of the position he had won.
Since his election, though, Trump has continued with the same behavior as during the campaign. On Inauguration Day, Trump and his staff insisted the crowd at his swearing-in was the largest ever, even though media coverage and pictures from the National Park Service clearly showed a much smaller crowd than during Obama’s 2008 inaugural. Trump’s feud with the media only got worse as he started calling all media outlets “fake news”, except, of course, his friends at Fox News and the National Inquirer.
Within days of entering the Oval Office, Trump issued executive orders fulfilling some of his most divisive campaign promises. First, he signed the order to build a border wall with Mexico and increase deportations of undocumented immigrants. He then issued his now infamous ban on immigrants from six Muslim countries, igniting a firestorm of political and legal reactions.
If that weren’t already enough, Trump’s White House began sparring with the media at press conferences, began limiting media availability, and even banned reporters from traveling with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on foreign trips.
On Trump’s weekend trips to his golf courses in Florida and other states, reporters were put in rooms with covered windows so they couldn’t cover Trump’s golf outings, and often lied about whether he was playing golf. Their contempt for the free press seems like a dictator of some banana republic.
The bizarre world Trump has created since his election would be funny if it weren’t so damaging to the country and the world. In the past few weeks, Trump’s erratic behavior escalated tensions with North Korea to a point that our military was locked and loaded for war where millions of lives could be lost with the push of a button.
But, this week, Trump hit a new low, even by his low standards.
After a woman was run down by a self-proclaimed white supremacist during a rally of neo-Nazis and other white nationalists groups, Trump condemned both sides on Saturday, equating counter-protesters to the bigots spouting hateful slogans like “Jews won’t replace us”, “blood and soil”, and “Heil Trump”, just to name a few fit for print.
Trump tried again on Monday to properly condemn the unacceptable actions of those responsible for the racial conflict during a teleprompter speech from the White House, this time calling racism an evil. Not bad.
But, on Tuesday, Trump spoke off-the-cuff and the train came off the rails.
He criticized removing statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, asking if Washington and Jefferson were next. His false equivalence in comparing rebellious treason against the U.S. and the country’s founding fathers was just a cover for his unabashed support for white nationalists. It isn’t new, and shouldn’t be surprising.
Donald Trump has discriminated against black tenants in his rental properties, has criticized women based on their looks, and has lumped innocent Muslims into the same heap as extremist terrorists. His tactic to disenfranchise the free press stifles democracy. His failure to give a full-throated rebuke of racist neo-Nazis was reprehensible. His nationalist views will further embolden hate groups and continue to cause racial tensions.
Trump has not changed because he doesn’t want to change. This is the real Donald Trump, and he will continue to engage in divisive, derisive, and destructive behavior until politicians, business leaders, and voters call him out for what he really is: He’s practically awful in every way.