Forget the art of the deal. Nine months into his presidency, Donald Trump has closed no deals, artful or otherwise. So far, all we’ve seen is Trump’s 10 rules for Trumpism.
1. Make everything about yourself. Whether it’s dying Syrian children, several million Americans without power or water a month after killer hurricanes, or American soldiers dying on his watch, Trump puts himself front-and-center.
After failing to say anything for days about four American soldiers who died in Niger, Trump spent the weekend golfing. He explained why he hadn’t yet called the families: “The toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens. Soldiers are killed. It’s a very difficult thing. Now, it gets to a point where, you know, you make four or five of them in one day. It’s a very, very tough day. For me, that’s by far the toughest.”
He then said his predecessors did not call or write letters to those who died in service to their country. Not true.
2. Never apologize. Trump consistently refuses to admit mistakes. He did not apologize to Barack Obama for falsely insisting for years that Obama was not an American. He never apologized to the Boy Scouts for an embarrassingly political, profane speech at their jamboree. He did not apologize for mocking a disabled reporter. He was not sorry for rude behavior to Angela Merkel and Theresa May. He did not apologize for demeaning Gold Star parents.
3. Threaten. When Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain powerfully pleaded for comity and bipartisanship as he expressed worry that today’s nationalism is akin to the isolationist movement that helped lead to World War II, Trump said he will fight back against McCain. “And it won’t be pretty,” Trump said, warning McCain, “Be careful.” McCain, who was tortured for years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, has brain cancer.
Immigrants? Deport or ban them. Nuclear war? Don’t be afraid to say you’re ready to blow up the world. After all, it’s “my attitude” that matters, Trump said.
4. Appeal to the lowest common denominator. Encourage racism. Blame opponents for violence in the wake of a white supremacist march in Charlottesville. Label football players as unpatriotic for protesting racial inequality. Call critics stupid, lazy, liars, ugly or losers. Give foes offensive nicknames.
5. Never accept responsibility for failure. No legislative victories? Blame Republicans and Democrats - everyone but yourself. An improbable number of Russian connections while you’re trying to get American votes? Fake news.
6. Overstate the benefits of anything you do. The world is grateful, thrilled, appreciative, awed and amazed at your every decision, word, gesture, visit and speech.
7. Never pass up a chance to make money even if you’re a multibillionaire. If you try to build a hotel in Russia while running for president, insist conflict of interest rules don’t apply to you and make as much money for your business as you can while in the White House. Have campaign donors pay your private lawyers and those of your son.
8. Appease your base and distract your opponents with phony accusations. NFL players upset about racial inequality? Accuse them of disloyalty to the flag, the military, the country, the president. Don’t like truthful news reports about you? Call them fake. Impugn the motivations of your (many) enemies. Conjure up a “war on Christmas.”
9. Be loyal only to yourself. If somebody irks you, fire him or get even. So far, Trump has gotten rid of his national security adviser, the FBI director, the acting director, the chief of staff, two communications directors, the press secretary, the strategic planner, the director of health and human services. He has belittled or humiliated the attorney general, the speaker of the House, the Senate majority and minority leaders, and the House minority leader, among others.
10. Avoid homework and late night reading to learn about complex national issues. Just use your gut, whether or not you know the facts. Possible deal on health insurance? Praise it and diss it, within 4 minutes.
In short, don’t bother being kind, empathetic, thoughtful, prudent, restrained, generous, long-sighted, respectful, temperate or judicious.
After all, you’re the boss.
Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.