Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Trump the Incompetent

The Times reports the welcome news that Hillary Clinton's brain trust is taking the Trump threat very seriously and studying approaches to convince the disaffected that his promises are empty. Here's the emerging Democratic thinking, according to Amy Chozick and Patrick Healy:
The plan has three major thrusts: Portray Mr. Trump as a heartless businessman who has worked against the interests of the working-class voters he now appeals to; broadcast the degrading comments he has made against women in order to sway suburban women, who have been reluctant to support Mrs. Clinton; and highlight his brash, explosive temper to show he is unsuited to be commander in chief.
One potential problem, as Greg Sargent argues this morning, is that the "heartless businessman" attack used on Romney may not work in this case, because the nature of Trump's appeal is different. His followers respond to his assertions of "strength" -- and past heartlessness may only reinforce that. It might be more effective, as Kevin Drum has suggested, to point out Trump's serial business failures -- emphasizing not just that he hurt people, but that his promises were empty, his judgment comically bad, his execution terrible.

The Washington Post's account yesterday of the rise and swift fall of Trump Mortgage (founded in 2006!) provides a distilled essence of Trump's art of the debacle. Here's the Rise and Fall pattern, recounted by Tom Hamburger and Michael Kranish:

1. Ignore market signals
“I think it’s a great time to start a mortgage company,”  Trump told a CNBC interviewer in April 2006, adding that “the real estate market is going to be very strong for a long time to come.”
2. Fail
Within 18 months, as the experts’ worst fears began to pan out and home prices began to dip, Trump Mortgage closed, leaving some bills unpaid and a spotty sales record that fell short of Trump’s lofty predictions.
3. Blame surrogates
Trump distanced himself from the firm’s demise, saying at the time that he had not been involved in the company’s management and that its executives had performed poorly.
4. Stiff everyone
The Trump Mortgage closure continued to reverberate following the crash for at least one former employee.

Jennifer McGovern, who had been a mortgage seller, filed suit, saying she was fired before receiving $238,000 of promised compensation for a commercial real estate deal she negotiated.

McGovern, a mother of three, won a judgment in 2008 by a New York State Supreme Court judge, who ordered that she be paid $298,274. But the bill was not paid. “The company was set up in a way that we could never recover what we were owed,” she said
5. Lie about it when everyone's forgotten
Recently, as a candidate, Trump has presented himself as a truth teller who sounded an early alarm about the pending mortgage crisis. He told MSNBC last July that he had known the housing market “was a bubble that was waiting to explode.”

“I told a lot of people,” Trump said. “And I was right. You know, I’m pretty good at that stuff.”
And by way of epilogue: Trump's promises about America under his leadership likely to go same way as his promises about Trump mortgage. Upon launch back in 2006...
He batted away skepticism from CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo, who cited a 10 percent decline in new-home sales in one recent month.

“I think the market is very good,” Trump responded. “We’re going to have a great company. It’s Trump Mortgage and trumpmortgage.com. And it’s going to be a terrific company,”one he predicted would quickly become an industry leader.

Trump derided economists during the broadcast, saying they were often unable to predict significant events.

“I went to the Wharton School of Finance. I was actually a very good student, believe it or not, but I’ve never been a huge believer in forecasting what’s going to happen because you really never know what happens down the road,” he said.
Trump is a disaster meister. His campaign subtext, properly understood, is captured by the refrain of Groucho Marx, President of Fredonia, in Duck Soup:

If you think the country's bad off now, just wait till I get through with it.

UPDATE: Jonathan Last, arguing that Trump does not have a lock on the nomination, highlighted that the facts about Trump's business record are not widely known:
The single most shocking number from Super Tuesday might have been this poll showing voter awareness about various aspects of Trump: Only 27 percent had heard about his reluctance to denounce David Duke and the KKK; 20 percent about Trump University and the fraud lawsuit; 13 percent about the failure of Trump Mortgage.

Ever made someone whole, Donald?
Trump, in one word

1 comment:

  1. Sunday night, the movie, "Spotlight," delineating the problems of the Roman Catholic Church, its clerical child molestation problem and subsequent denial and coverup, won an Oscar. I have to wonder just how many adherents the Church lost, as a result of all that - not so much the film as its actions and inactions - because a lot of Mr. Trump's adherents seem to be as immune to reality as do the Catholics who continue to belong, even though it was in some cases, their own children who were molested. Is Mr. Trump not merely a demogogue, but a tent revivalist for a certain group of authoritarian-raised people?