Donald Trump Is Going to Lose Because He Is Crazy
On the Cover: Artwork by Barbara Kruger for New York Magazine. For New York's July 9–22, , cover story, Jonathan Chait questions whether Trump has been influenced by a hostile foreign When Bruce Met Selina. New York Magazine energizes people around shared interests, igniting important conversations on the news, politics, style, and culture that drive the world. By Jonathan Chait. Enjoy it now . Cell signal puts Cohen outside Prague around time of purported Russian meeting. —McClatchy. a.m.
Suppose we are currently making the same mistake we made at the outset of this drama — suppose the dark crevices of the Russia scandal run not just a little deeper but a lot deeper. It would mean that when Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in on the president and his inner circle, possibly beginning this summer, Trump may not merely rail on Twitter but provoke a constitutional crisis.
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And it would mean the Russia scandal began far earlier than conventionally understood and ended later — indeed, is still happening. As Trump arranges to meet face-to-face and privately with Vladimir Putin later this month, the collusion between the two men metastasizing from a dark accusation into an open alliance, it would be dangerous not to consider the possibility that the summit is less a negotiation between two heads of state than a meeting between a Russian-intelligence asset and his handler.
A crazy quilt of connections.
Click or tap to zoom in. Getty Images It is often said that Donald Trump has had the same nationalistic, zero-sum worldview forever. Yes, his racism and mendacity have been evident since his youth, but those who have traced the evolution of his hypernationalism all settle on one year in particular: There are only a couple of examples of him commenting on world politics before then.
One possible explanation is that Trump published The Art of the Deal, which sped up his transformation from an aggressive, publicity-seeking New York developer to a national symbol of capitalism. But the timing for this account does not line up perfectly — the book came out on November 1, and Trump had begun opining loudly on trade and international politics two months earlier.
The other important event from that year is that Trump visited Moscow. During the Soviet era, Russian intelligence cast a wide net to gain leverage over influential figures abroad. The practice continues to this day. The Russians would lure or entrap not only prominent politicians and cultural leaders, but also people whom they saw as having the potential for gaining prominence in the future.
July 9, 2018
InSoviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin met Trump in New York, flattered him with praise for his building exploits, and invited him to discuss a building in Moscow.
Trump visited Moscow in July He stayed at the National Hotel, in the Lenin Suite, which certainly would have been bugged. How do you even think about the small but real chance that the president of the United States has been influenced or compromised by a hostile foreign power for decades? Trump returned from Moscow fired up with political ambition.
He began the first of a long series of presidential flirtations, which included a flashy trip to New Hampshire. The primary answer, of course, was the Soviet Union. A central goal of Soviet, and later Russian, foreign policy was to split the U. Indeed, it seems slightly insane to contemplate the possibility that a secret relationship between Trump and Russia dates back this far. How do you even think about the small but real chance — 10 percent?
It exerts different gradations of leverage over different kinds of people, and uses a basic tool kit of blackmail that involves the exploitation of greed, stupidity, ego, and sexual appetite.
All of which are traits Trump has in abundance. Throughout his career, Trump has always felt comfortable operating at or beyond the ethical boundaries that constrain typical businesses.
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Trump habitually refused to pay his counterparties, and if the people he burned or any journalists got in his way, he bullied them with threats. Trump also reportedly circulated at parties for wealthy men featuring cocaine and underage girls. But unlike the prospect of nominating a Scott Walker — or a more extreme version, like Ted Cruz — the risk does not carry any proportionate reward.
Bush, Walker, and Rubio all agree on the same basic domestic goals. Trump dissents from the field not just in his political strategy but in his overall orientation.
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These positions horrify the Republican Establishment. But few Republican voters find them actually disqualifying. Trump poses a dire threat to the party: If elected, he could not be trusted to work for the Republican agenda.
Trump has responded to attacks from fellow Republicans the way he has always conducted his feuds with journalists, celebrities, reality-show victims, or business rivals. In the short run, this can work. Trump is a polarizer. His grotesque, bombastic arrogance has worked very well as a business strategy. Everybody has an opinion about Trump, positive or negative. Trump-haters will tune in to his show just as Trump-lovers will. Even if three-quarters of the public wants nothing to do with him, the quarter that admires Trump forms a massive customer base.
But politics does not work like business. Trump has a brilliant strategy for winning the loyalty of a quarter of the primary electorate, or perhaps a third. He has no strategy for winning a majority, which is what you need to get the nomination. Indeed, the things Trump has done to elevate his profile have pushed that majority further from his reach. Trump has the power to destroy, but not to conquer. Which brings us back to the question of what it is Trump is after.
His presidential campaign seems to have come at enormous financial cost. His undisguised or less-disguised racism has made him an economic pariah.
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This immunity from consequence gives Trump the power to wreak apparently limitless havoc upon what is currently his party. Is Trump running to spite the reporters who mocked him as a bluffer? As an expensive lark, like the time he got piano lessons from Elton John?