Why are the Americans rooting for Donald Trump as president? What makes this arrogant and pompous tycoon so appealing? CNN’s Chris Cuomo’s assessment of this tycoon is worth a second look
By Shobha John
The way he is going, this billionaire may just come up trumps at the hustings. If polls are anything to go by, Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, may just end up being the next US president. An uneasy thought considering all the wild and offensive things he has been saying recently, so much so that Republican Lindsey Graham even called him a “jackass”. A bit excessive, but then Trump has rubbed many people the wrong way. He says forcefully: “We are a country in serious decline,” and he thinks he’s the best man to tackle it.
In order to gauge his growing popularity and the reasons for it, VON decided to watch an interview of his with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on August 19. Now, Cuomo is a seasoned journalist who has worked earlier with ABC and comes from a family with political links. His father, Mario Cuomo, was a former New York governor and his brother, Andrew Cuomo is the current NY governor. So obviously he is no push-over and as the interview progresses, one can see his growing scepticism over Trump’s chest-thumping statements.
The interview was smartly divided into various sections—Hillary, immigration, trade, jobs, ISIS, TV education, family—making it easier for American voters to judge him on various issues. Interestingly, the interview is done in what seems like a mall, with curious onlookers watching from a distance and taking pictures.
HITTING AT HILLARY
Asked about polls saying he and high-profile Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton were in close competition, Trump dismisses them saying Hillary will have a hard time over her leaked emails. And then ridiculously, he compares this to the leak of classified documents by Gen David Petraeus, then CIA director, to his mistress. Cuomo rightly points this out to him, but it hardly matters as Trump asks righteously: “What’s she doing?” “Why is she doing it?” He even goes on to say the email leak could be a criminal act or incompetence, none of which is good for the US president.
Coming to geo-politics, Trump takes the credit for predicting that if Iraq is decimated, Iran would take over the Middle East and then, someone would take over the leftover oil, which is ISIS. “So call it vision, I have to call it vision as I am trying to get elected,” he says pompously.
But he is clear and blunt about one thing—oil. He says categorically he will take the oil there—“the source of their wealth”—and give it to the armed forces and wounded soldiers coz “they deserve it, they are the greatest people and I love them”. No wonder America is loving him!
He slams the Iran-US nuclear deal,calling it the worst deal a country has ever made. While an ever-sceptical Cuomo says Iran has been fighting against the ISIS, Trump says that the US has been making many mistakes in the Middle East and in Syria. “I want to take care of ourselves and want to rebuild this country and focus on the wealth of ISIS.”
It is this sense of false bravado and fighting for what he thinks is truly American that is getting him the votes. He wants an incredible and powerful military that no one can play games with or mess with—he says looking after the military is what he will be best at. Does that bode well in an increasingly hostile world?
GREATEST JOBS PRESIDENT
Coming to the economy, Cuomo says that Americans think that as Trump is rich he can make others too rich. But Trump’s statements on this—“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created”—seem ludicrous when he says emphatically that he will take back jobs from Japan, Mexico, China….
He lambasts big businesses for building factories and cars in Mexico instead of the US. But that’s coz labor is cheaper there, interjects a stiff Cuomo. But Trump says these businesses will have to pay a tax/penalty to drive those cars back in! But won’t these cars be expensive for US consumers? “Then they should buy fewer cars,” says Trump triumphantly. He seems to have got his economic fundas mixed up. Cuomo looks astounded as Trump says: “We are getting killed on trade.”
Even foreign relations and diplomacy are plain business for Trump. “They are killing us and they don’t even like us,” says Trump of China. Calling a spade a spade, eh? “With me, they will like us and we will beat them,” he says emphatically. Sure. “Even my Chinese tenants love me,” says this real estate magnate. Of course, they will love him—he is rich and can throw them out any time. Trump goes on about China: “They understand they are ripping us off….We have the greatest business people in the world.”
But he says they have the wrong people in the wrong job like Caroline Kennedy, US ambassador in Japan “who doesn’t even know how she got the job”. He cribs about Japan sending in ships with cars (“But they are cheaper,” says an incredulous Cuo-mo) even as the US sends beef and wheat to them which they don’t want. That’s unequal trade for Tru-mp. It will be interesting to see how he equalizes it.
For a man running for president, Trump is anything but presidential. He is downright offensive and runs down rivals. He calls Jeb Bush, another Republican presidential hopeful, “a very low-energy person”. He claims he was given an award by the Marines Corps at the Waldorf-Astoria. When CNN checked this out, it found out it was the Marine Corp Law Enforcement Foundation, a charity. Two different things, ain’t it, Mr Trump?
However, Trump’s views on women would sou-nd like music to their ears. “I will protect women more than anybody else.” And yes, he is willing to allow women in combat roles after speaking to the generals.
He is also unabashedly arrogant, saying he has the greatest company and has created tens of thousands of jobs, and he looks after his people well. “I am a job producing machine,” he says as he taunts the other presidential candidates for not being in the same league as him.
While Trump is full of bluster and blows his own trumpet at the drop of a hat, Cuomo, nattily dressed, came across as too serious. His lack of humor is matched by Trump’s own lack of charm. One almost misses the silky smoothness of Bill Clinton. Perhaps Cuomo would do well to see BBC’s Hardtalk where journalist Tim Sebastian interviewed world leaders in such a relaxed manner that they seemed like drawing room conversations. His interview with Isabel Allende, a Chilean-American author, will be remembered for its charm and graciousness.
No wonder Sebastian won Britain’s prestigious Royal Television Society Interviewer of the Year award in 2001.
Coming to Trump, Cuomo asks him why he wants to send illegal immigrants back. Isn’t this a constitutionally dubious and extreme position? He says righteously: “I have to do the right thing. This country is so politically correct and no one wants to take a stand on anything.” He says he will send the migrants back to their countries, build a wall along the border and they would need to get back in legally. Ludicrous idea, I say!
The problem with Trump is that he approaches every problem like a businessman and says: “We are losing business to Mexico…. Three hundred thousand births among illegals.” He even dismisses the 14th Amendment which will prevent this. But he promises that he will get “good people” to come back, but legally.
He even has a message for the Pope who will visit the US next month. “I like him, he seems like a pretty good guy.” How flippant. And if the Pope is against capitalism, which Trump says is a very good thing, he will tell him the ISIS is coming for him! Yup, he said that.
Good luck to the Americans!