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One secret to Trump's political success: He is a 'doer'

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Trump triumphs. Clinton struggles. Who would have predicted that?

Soon it will be Donald Trump, who is now the presumptive Republican nominee, versus former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton by a landslide in the general election? The great philosopher Yogi Berra once said: "Never make predictions. Especially about the future."

Safer to talk about the past. So what explains Trump's astonishing political success? The best explanation was given in October by, of all people, the legendary rock star Alice Cooper, who said, "I know Donald, and I know he's a 'doer.' He's not a 'sayer.'"

That's it exactly. Trump is a "doer." Why are so many voters going for that? Because they are exasperated by President Barack Obama. They see Obama as a sayer and a thinker but not much of a doer.

Actually, Obama has gotten a lot of things done: healthcare reform, elimination of Osama bin Laden, economic recovery when the country was teetering on the edge of another Great Depression, Wall Street reform, rescue of the U.S. auto industry.

Nonetheless, his critics see Obama as ineffectual. They look at Washington, and they see gridlock. They expect a president to get things done. They don't want to hear, "Congress won't give me what I want." Tough leaders like Presidents Lyndon B Johnson and Ronald Reagan could get what they wanted out of Congress by twisting arms and turning on the charm.

Instead, all critics see is that Obama can't stop Islamic State. He can't do anything about Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression in Ukraine and Syria. They don't believe he can stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. He can't bring well-paying jobs back. As for healthcare reform, most Americans never supported it, and increasing numbers are turning against it.

Even Democrats are frustrated, which helps explain their continuing support of Senator Bernie Sanders, (I-Vt.). Obama can't shut down Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He can't deliver immigration reform or gun control. He can't do much about climate change.

Why does Trump come across as a doer? For one thing, he's a real-estate developer. Last month, Faroll Hamer, a retired planning official, wrote a Washington Post op-ed contending that Trump fits the stereotype of a developer -- bold, pragmatic, decisive and "megalomaniacal." In Hamer's experience, developers haggle and push and scheme and contrive to get what they want. They have no ideology, except success. Trump wrote the book on getting what you want: "The Art of the Deal."

With a builder, the results are there for everyone to see. And benefit from: "Everything they do is for us," Hamer wrote, "because they are building places for us to live, shop or work." Builders see themselves as public heroes. In some works of fiction, they are: Ayn Rand's novel, "The Fountainhead," Henryk Ibsen's play "The Master Builder." Hamer's prediction: "Trump really would build a wall."

Trump was surprisingly magnanimous in his comments after the Indiana primary. After Senator Ted Cruz of Texas dropped out of the race, Trump called him an "incredible competitor."

That's the way developers operate. Once they get what they want, they're all sweetness and light.

There's another reason Trump comes across as a doer. He's not a politician. On Monday, Cruz was confronted by pro-Trump protesters as he campaigned in Indiana. An angry young man pointed to Cruz and said, "You are the problem, you politician. You are the problem."

People expect government to solve problems. They're angry because the federal government can't solve problems any more. It can't stop illegal immigration. It can't keep jobs in the United States. It can't stop terrorists from killing Americans. Trump says he can do all those things.

Most Americans see politics as the enemy of problem solving. Why can't government deal with the national debt? Because of politics. Why can't we deal with climate change? Too much politics. Why can't we control our borders? Politics gets in the way.

"For years," former President Bill Clinton once argued, "politicians have treated our most vexing problems like crime, welfare and the budget deficit as issues to be exploited, not problems to be solved."

Trump offers himself as a strongman. He'll ignore politics and just get the job done. It's not quite clear how. But his supporters don't care. He'll just do it. It's the reason why voters have always been attracted to political outsiders like Ross Perot and Colin Powell -- and now Trump. They can put politics aside and just fix what's wrong.

Can Trump actually get elected president? It's not likely. He's too risky. And viewed as dangerous. Obama warned this week, "He is not somebody who, even within the Republican Party, can be considered as equipped to deal with the problems of this office."

But it's not impossible. What it would take would be an extraordinary event. Suppose there is another serious financial crash in October. Or, God forbid, a terrorist attack in the United States like the ones in Paris or Brussels. A catastrophe could cause voters to lose their inhibitions. They would be desperate for change.

People would start saying, "We can't go on like this." That could doom Clinton, who represents the status quo to most voters ("a third term for Obama"). Both parties are experiencing a wave of dissatisfaction with the status quo. It's putting Trump over the top on the Republican side and fuelling the Sanders surge among Democrats.

The polls show Clinton's lead over Trump is narrowing. She will not be an easy candidate to elect. Clinton has a negative favorability rating, an average of 55% unfavorable. What she has going for her is that Trump's unfavorability rating is even higher -- 65%.

The key unknown is turnout. A lot of people might stay home because they don't want to vote for either Trump or Clinton. But if polls begin to show Trump winning, that could generate a huge turnout of fearful anti-Trump voters.

Hamer, the former planning official, warned that developers get into trouble when they "act for short-term tactical gain without principles and without knowing where [they're] going." Replacing a thinker with a doer would be a grave risk. Americans could end up with a president who "does" without thinking.

The United States has a safeguard against a megalomaniac: the constitutional system. The last time Americans elected a president who had no political experience was General Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. His predecessor, President Harry S. Truman, famously predicted: "Poor Ike! He'll say, 'Do this!' and 'Do that!' and nothing will happen. It won't be a bit like the army. He'll find it very frustrating."

So would "Poor Donald."

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2016.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

13 Comments
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Was this column written for 11-year-olds? It comes off like something from the Weekly Reader, which some Americans might recognize as a newspaper distributed in elementary schools to .... 11-year-olds.

Note that the article, touting Trump as a "doer," only mentions on actual thing that Trump has done, and that is "write" a horrible book (with some assistance no doubt).

Here is what Trump actually did: He inherited a boatload of money from his old man, and continued in his old man's business. Eventually he diversified, and became an entertainer.

Some other things the man did: Ran a number of businesses into the ground, left a number of other business people holding the bag.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

When Obama won the election, Republicans overtly and consciously adopted a strategy of obstructionism in order to defeat him. They outwardly proclaimed they wanted him to be seen as a failure, so they'd block every plan or proposal he led, even if it was good for their constituents. Because beating a Dem was more important to them than getting good policy.

And now look what's happening to their party as a result. I'd say it was just desserts, if only it weren't that the rest of us also have to deal with their irresponsible fallout.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@todd topolski

Obama turned a recession into the great recession.

Chronologically impossible. Dates for the Great Recession are December 2007 to June 2009. Obama assumed office on January 20th 2009. The Great Recession was in full swing well before he took over from Bush, and ended several months later.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

He is still talking like a professor and that just dont cut it in politics

Only if "not cutting it in politics" overlooks the fact that he was elected to the Senate, won the Democrat nomination, was elected President, and then re-eleected. Current approval rating around 50 percent.

Shit, even Fox News has him at 49% approval versus 47% disapproval.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_approval_rating

If he talked more like Trump, or George Bush, would he have "cut it" more than he does now?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

5petalsMAY. 10, 2016 - 08:08PM JST Obama got allot done but his delivery sucked. He is still talking like a professor and that just dont cut it in politics

Obama's style of speech in not high flown or professorial in the least. The fact that you and a number of other posters feel this way is exemplary of the general coarsening and dumbing-down of American society.

He could easily win a third term.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The only thing he "does" is con people into investing in him and then leaving them high and dry and much poorer.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The US guys at the office say Trump is simply feeding on the racism and fear of the future of the bottom class of the US. They have been left behind by modernity, don't understand it, and don't have any skills to work in it. So you find a skapegoat: the MUSLIMS!! (you know, like the Jews in Germany). "It's all their fault!! It's the Muslims! And Japan and China!! Don't forget Japan and China!! I mean, it's not like it's my fault." Also, they said if Trump becomes president, they will naturalize to Japanese.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

One secret to a master pickpocket's success: He is a 'doer'

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"Trump offers himself as a strongman. He’ll ignore politics and just get the job done. It’s not quite clear how. But his supporters don’t care." - artilce

A strongman with stupid followers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

http://youtu.be/lt1VueEDGQs (CBS News -Donald Trump "model citizen" for Wollman Rink NYC)

http://www.wollmanskatingrink.com/ (still managed by Trump)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Restate Obama's failures for what they are and,trumps,success is better explained. Obama turned a recession into the great recession, Obama started at least 6 wars mostly by doing nothing, helped groups like Isis by declaring climate change is the real threat only days after Paris was hit by terror attacks and Obama transformed healthcare from OK enough for 90% of the population into a complete failure. Trump the doer is winning because of 9.5 years of Democrat party rule. They we're in charge of the house and Senate in 2006 and the Democrats completely screwed the country and some of the world. Then add the inept and ineffective Republicans in partial control for a short time. It is not surprising trump is winning. Hillary, who helped Obama create the barackalypse is also a corrupt criminal. Trump will win because a large number of voters won't vote in a criminal.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Why are so many voters going for that? Because they are exasperated by President Barack Obama. They see Obama as a sayer and a thinker but not much of a doer.

That speaks volumes. Obama got allot done but his delivery sucked. He is still talking like a professor and that just dont cut it in politics

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Thoughtfully presented article. One argument I hear from some outside of Washington DC, from whence I now write, is "would you trust a politician to build a skyscraper?" On the whole I agree with Todd Topolski's take on this.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

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