The Corner

Trump Isn’t Upset by the Obama Era, He’s Always Been a Wannabe Mussolini

In response to More Court

Jay — you note that Donald Trump praised the massacre at Tiananmen Square and suggested that the USSR was too weak:

An interview that Trump gave to Playboy in 1990 has just come to my attention. If I’m the last to know about it, forgive me. Trump was asked about Gorbachev — who was nearing the end of his time in power. Trump said, “Russia is out of control and the leadership knows it. That’s my problem with Gorbachev. Not a firm enough hand.” His interviewer asked, “You mean firm hand as in China?” Trump answered, “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak … as being spit on by the rest of the world –”

Forget for a moment how disgraceful it is to hear an American talking like this, and note how eerily familiar Trump’s language is here. To hear Trump tell it in 2016, he has been pushed over the edge by Barack Obama’s weakness on the world stage. America, he has suggested during this campaign, was once “great,” but, after George W. Bush and Mitch McConnell and Barack Obama got their hands on it, it was turned into a weak, directionless, laughing stock — a shadow of a country, with a hollowed-out economy and an underperforming military and culture that is shackled by a perpetually offended elite. At his announcement, Trump summed up this view well:

Sadly, the American dream is dead. But if I get elected president, I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again.

Because we have gone through a long period of war and a terrible recession, this sort of talk appeals to many. And understandably. And yet it turns out that Trump isn’t talking this way because he has diagnosed a recent problem with American life; he is talking this way because this is how he talks. That Playboy interview, you will note, was published in 1990. Back when the country was riding high after the Reagan years. Back when the American military was capable of kicking Iraq out of Kuwait with no problems at all. Back when the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse. This isn’t about Obama. This isn’t about the Republican Congress. This isn’t about the recession. It’s about Trump’s being little more than a third-rate, wannabe strongman — a man with one hammer and one nail. Trump doesn’t praise Vladimir Putin because he thinks America is going through a weak period! He praises Vladimir Putin because that’s what he thinks leadership is. The Chinese Communist Party? Weak. The USSR? Weak. George H. W. Bush? Weak. Trump? Il Duce!

Trouble is, Trump isn’t strong at all. Here, for example, are a couple of Trump promises from the same Playboy interview:

Q. The Taj Mahal in Atlantic City is going to be ___ ?

A. The most spectacular hotel-casino anywhere in the world.

Q. And the Trump Shuttle will be ___ ?

A. Easily the number-one service to Washington and Boston.

The Trump Shuttle never turned a profit and collapsed within a year. Because he had taken out so much debt to finance the project, Trump was forced to default on his loans and lost the company to his creditors.

The Taj Mahal, meanwhile, is now the poster child for a failed and crumbling Atlantic City, and a perfect example of the disgraceful way in which Trump’s businesses practices tend to screw over the little guy.

Weak? Donald Trump knows a lot about weak.

Most Popular

White House

The Trivialization of Impeachment

We have a serious governance problem. Our system is based on separation of powers, because liberty depends on preventing any component of the state from accumulating too much authority -- that’s how tyrants are born. For the system to work, the components have to be able to check each other: The federal and ... Read More
U.S.

‘Texodus’ Bodes Badly for Republicans

‘I am a classically trained engineer," says Representative Will Hurd, a Texas Republican, "and I firmly believe in regression to the mean." Applying a concept from statistics to the randomness of today's politics is problematic. In any case, Hurd, 42, is not waiting for the regression of our politics from the ... Read More
Culture

Feminists Have Turned on Pornography

Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the feminist movement has sought to condemn traditional sexual ethics as repressive, misogynistic, and intolerant. As the 2010s come to a close, it might be fair to say that mainstream culture has reached the logical endpoint of this philosophy. Whereas older Americans ... Read More
Culture

Not Less Religion, Just Different Religion

The Pew Poll tells us that society is secularizing -- particularly among the young -- and who can deny it? That is one reason that the free expression of religion is under such intense pressure in the West. But it seems to me that we aren't really becoming less religious. Rather, many are merely changing that ... Read More