Men like Trump: US president has been busy campaigning, taunting a porn star and making 'Pocahontas' jabs

Editor's note: Men like Trump is a series of dispatches that tell of how a reckless president is steering the White House, and the manner in which his actions are fundamentally altering the office he holds. The writer, being a woman political journalist from India, now transplanted to the US, is in a unique position to observe the three aspects that are critical to defining this presidency: chauvinism, gunslinger politics, and immigration.

Two weeks are a long time in a president’s life and US president Donald Trump has been as busy as a bee, tweeting and talking on five different fronts over the past few days—this, even as he hops from state to state campaigning for the midterm elections to 35 seats in the 100-member Senate and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives (Congress) on 6 November—the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Nikki Haley’s resignation from the post of US ambassador to the United Nations, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Native American ancestry, another fracas with adult film star Stormy Daniels and lastly, healthcare.

Trump has stepped out more than the average American president, by all accounts, to campaign for the Republican candidates for the midterms. Since I have seen the same thing happen in India, where all elections have become about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, I don’t find it surprising. But it appears new for the American public, both Republican and Democrat, who are watching Trump’s moves and flamboyant rhetoric with fascination.

Donald Trump, in many ways, is a political journalist's dream come true. Illustration: Satwick Gade

Donald Trump is being watched by the public with fascination. Illustration: Satwick Gade

The Democrats and his opponents within his party are trying to box him in on the issues listed above. But Trump has held his own, stuck to his line and managed to stay at the epicenter of attention with his trademark abusive language and attitude that ensures that nothing else is given importance.

The people I speak to from differing political stances and economic strata, are either horrified or highly amused by Trump. They point out that the US economy is in great shape, unemployment is low and since Obamacare continues despite Trump’s best efforts to destroy it, nothing really bad has happened. The ones who are horrified are upset about the belittling of the president’s post, the ones amused feel he has humanised it. Nobody, including the Democrats, are making a clear enough case that tax cuts are hurting the country’s social spend, essentially because everyone, from what I can see, is too preoccupied countering Trump’s in-your-face outrageous comments and actions.

Trump wrote a long editorial in USA Today about healthcare, in an effort to clear the air about why Obamacare (officially called the Affordable Care Act) and the Medicare for All promoted by the Democrats were actually detrimental. Trump’s effort to torpedo the Act was stymied by a single vote from the late Republican senator John McCain, who died recently of cancer. All through the editorial he tried to say the Democrats, who want a government-controlled centralised health system, wanted to take away free market competition and choice. His supporters extolled it, opponents derided it, with no clear indication that it changed anyone’s mind.

On Jamal Khashoggi, Trump is being attacked for the perceived closeness of his son-in-law and power centre Jared Kushner, with Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman who is referred to in the US as ‘MBS.’ Khashoggi has been living in the United States and writing for The Washington Post. He disappeared after entering the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, leaving his Turkish fiancee waiting for him outside. The US media has been full of reports that he was allegedly tortured and dismembered for his stand against MBS and Trump has been pushed into the position of having to defend his relations with the Saudis.

Trump initially said he would not jeopardise business relations with the Saudis over the matter, but the American perception that they are the upholders of human rights across the world pushed him into a more defensive position. Saudi Arabia finally said 18 people accused of killing Khashoggi were arrested and Trump, catching the lifeline, said he believed this. His own party leaders like Senator Lindsey Graham have expressed doubts, but the issue has further bolstered the stand of Trump supporters that he has American interests at heart.

The three women Trump had to deal with over the last two weeks have generated more interest in the public mind. American ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley resigned for no apparent reason, leading to a lot of speculation that she is positioning herself to be the Republican nominee for the president’s post in 2020. Haley denied this with Trump sitting next to her at a media conference announcing her resignation. She later made a joke about it and took several digs at Trump at a televised high-profile dinner.

Senator Elizabeth Warren took on Trump with her video stating that DNA evidence proved that she had Cherokee ancestry. This in response to Trump  derisively dubbing her “Pocahontas,” (a native American icon) in an attempt to show the senator as someone who is laying dubious claim to a race ancestry. Warren’s video, however, has not got the kind of response she hoped for as the ancestry goes back about six to 10 generations earlier and even has Democrats worried that Trump’s slur may now work better.

Adult film star Stormy Daniels lost the defamation case against Trump for his tweet: "A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!" Daniels claimed that she was being threatened for making public the hush money she was allegedly paid to not talk about her affair with Trump. The above response to her allegation was defamatory, she said. The court ruled that Trump’s tweets were protected by his position.

The result? Trump tweeted: “Federal Judge throws out Stormy Danials lawsuit versus Trump. Trump is entitled to full legal fees.” @FoxNews Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer in the Great State of Texas. She will confirm the letter she signed! She knows nothing about me, a total con!”


Updated Date: Nov 05, 2018 15:34 PM

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