Donald Trump: Four More Years?

President Donald Trump isn’t an unwitting, brainwashed assassin in the same way that Sargent Raymond Shaw was in The Manchurian Candidate. He’s worse. Donald Trump is real. And he’s being manipulated and guided by people who may have taken the time to read Richard Condon’s book or at least watched either John Frankenheimer’s 1962 film or Jonathan Demme’s 2004 re-make.

During his first 11 months in office Trump pushed through one of the most aggressive tax reforms in recent history. “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” was signed into law on December 22, 2017 and was lauded as one of the greatest things to happen in recent American history.

It wasn’t.

Let’s be honest, Donald Trump is no member of MENSA. To think that he has the intellectual capacity to help research, plan and craft a sweeping piece of legislation like “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” in under 11 months is foolish. It’s doubtful he could do it in 11 years, if ever.

The most likely scenario is that this bill had been festering in Washington D.C. for eight years, or more, under President Obama. When Trump got elected, Republicans, corporations and rich folks across the country got a taste of what it’s like when some of us average folk reveal $20 on our scratch off.

In other words, they’d just won the lottery.

So, how’d Trump push through such a sweeping overhaul so quickly? His inability to think critically played a big role, as well as Republican control of both the House of Representatives and Senate.

By almost every discernible measure, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act shows no evidence of making its way to average Americans, as promised. For 2018, the average tax refund check is down 8%.

The Republican leadership of Congress could’ve pitched President Trump on a plan to build a golf course on Mars. They could’ve pitched him the idea of painting the White House gold. To be fair, they could’ve pitched him anything. It just so happened that it was a tax plan that would give crazy corporate tax breaks and loads of benefits to the top 1% of Americans. It’s not like he read the bill, or if he did (and he didn’t), he would have understood it.

In any event, he just signed it into law. However, I suspect Donald Trump would hand vomit onto anything Mitch McConnell told him to.

They say you can judge a leader by the people they surround themselves with. In the case of Donald Trump, it’s been challenging. They change almost weekly. It would seem as though a revolving door has been installed in the West Wing.

If it weren’t so frightening, it might be almost funny that many senior level advisors and cabinet members of President Trump have the word “acting” as part of their title.

In any event, even if they may only be “acting”, they’re not acting as smart people. They are smart. Except maybe Stephen Miller, he who only went to Duke University because he thought it was named after famed KKK Grand Wizard David Duke — it’s not named after him.

Anyway, recent Trump recruit National Security Advisor John Bolton is no dummy.

While Bolton’s bushy mustache may make him look like a slimmer and taller version of actor Wilford Brimley. Don’t be fooled by his mustache’s disarming affable appearance. John Bolton’s political ideology is to the right of Attila the Hun.

He appears to love the idea of war almost as Donald Trump loves avoiding taxes. Bolton’s open hostility to Iran and North Korea borders on obsessive. And lately Bolton has been beating the war drum. Okay, that’s not entirely new, it’s just now his drum kit is right down the hall from one of the most powerful men in the world  . . . and he’s beating it with the veracity of Gene Krupa.

Two years ago, it’s unlikely Donald Trump could have picked out where Iran was on a map (I hope he could figure out that North Korea was the one above South Korea, but . . . ).

Because of John Bolton’s Krupa like war drumming geopolitical prowess, Trump has tightened sanctions on Iran’s oil exports and on May 8 he imposed further restriction on the countries steel, iron, aluminum and copper sectors.

On May 9th the U.S. seized a North Korean ship for violating sanctions.

Donald Trump doesn’t care about North Korea. He doesn’t care about Iran. He doesn’t care about his “base”. I’m not convinced he cares too much about his family. Donald Trump cares about one thing — Donald Trump. And the Space Force, he’s oddly fixated on the Space Force.

Not only does he not care about . . . well, about much of anything besides himself (and the Space Force), he lacks the leadership skills, foresight, temperament and intellectual capacity to hold the office he has. Because of that, he’s at least smart enough to do what he’s told.

President Donald Trump, more than any of his predecessors, is a puppet. His many puppet masters are savvier than the multi-platform and multi-bankrupt businessman. They’re more articulate than the “phoners” he gives to FOX News and the 240-character rambling “press releases”. The people he surrounds himself with are just smarter.

Let’s not confuse smarter with better though.

The current American president is so intellectually stunted and politically pliable that getting him to bend to the will of the Republican party, his “acting” advisors and cabinet members or the wishes of corporations appears to be about as difficult as operating Velcro.

Despite the war mongering of his “acting” advisors and cabinet members, the questionable motivation and moral fiber of others, Trumps own lack of intestinal fortitude and in spite of the lawsuits, the accusations, his questionable relationship with white nationalists, the lying (can’t forget that) and very odd affection for authoritarian leaders like Vladimir Putin, Kim-Jung un and Xi Jinping, notwithstanding the recent declaration by his arch foe, House Leader Nancy Pelosi, that the United States is experiencing a “Constitutional Crisis”, lest we forget the concrete evidence that Russia has, and will again, interfere with the American election process . . . in light of all that, America will hand Donald Trump a second term as President.

The Democrats running for president are a varied lot and getting them to line up behind one candidate and deliver a cogent and actionable message will be a Sisyphean task. While Joe Biden may have the best chance of making that happen, his age and whiteness will turn away many young voters. Which in turn bodes well for Republicans.

When voting day arrives in 2020, of 20 current Presidential candidates, both Republican and Democrat, the average age is 61.25. Of the current Democratic front-runners, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, it’s Warren who will be the youngest at a spry 71.

On election day Trump will be 74.

Under any other circumstances, 50% of these candidates, regardless of party, would be greeters at Wal-Mart.

Also working in Trump’s favor is the American economy. It’s doing well and unemployment is down. Those will be important factors during the election cycle. Regardless of whether Trump had any influence over their success he will, and should, take the credit for them. “To the victor go the spoils” and all that.

While America is still 18 months out from the actual election, it’s still really anyone’s guess. And given the age of some of these candidates, one can’t rule out a visit from the Grim Reaper between now and November 4, 2020. I know, awful, but these folks are old.

However, something tells me the American electorate will remain undeterred by all of Donald Trump’s hi-jinx and shenanigans and again line up behind him. For many reasons, but chief among them is that he’s easy for the Republican party to manipulate and for the political apparatus to operate.

While the character of Sargent Raymond Shaw, the assassin, in The Manchurian Candidate was just that, a character. President Donald Trump may not be an assassin, and he may be a character, he’s real . . . and he’s also one of the most powerful men in the world. As opposed to being one of the most influential people, he’s one of the most easily influenced.

That’s not the ideal combination in a leader, being powerful and easily influenced.

The potential nightmarish landscape that drove the drama in The Manchurian Candidate didn’t come to pass in the movie. It’s sort of taking shape right now. Who would’ve thought that The Manchurian Candidate would end up as a predictive work of fiction?

Maybe Blade Runner isn’t that far off after all.