Parliamentary historian and commentator Peter van der Heiden watched Donald Trump's press conference about business and golden showers. 'It was a meaningless charade.'
First of all, I am careful writing about American politics at all. I like to comfort myself with the thought that I know a thing or two about it, but I was incredibly wrong when I predicted the outcome of the last elections. It would be good to be slightly modest now. But modesty is not really my thing, so: what a charade!
What good will this guy be for the Americans in the upcoming years – and with them, for the rest of the world population? The next eight years even, according to Trump himself, even though I don’t even expect him to finish the first four. I consider Trump the kind of person to quit like Nixon, or to become the first American president who is discharged. One of the reasons for this opinion is the press conference I have just witnessed.
Trump made all the errors he could make. First of all, he did not formally step back from his imperium by selling it or putting it in a blind trust, but chooses for some vague form in which his two grown-up sons are going to lead the businesses. According to his lawyer, there will be ‘a wall between Donald Trump and the Trump Organisation’ – yeah, right. I am even willing to believe that Trump really thinks he meets all the requirements this way – but does he really believe that his offspring will not consult him about the goings on at the company? Come on. It’s a sham – he will get into trouble with this.
If we believe this report, Trump is Moscow’s puppet.
The other theme of the press conference was much more fun: the leaked report by a British former secret agent (hello, James Bond!) who, while giving almost no proof, gave American safety officials and press 35 pages of compromising material about Trump. If we believe this report, Trump is Moscow’s puppet, and Putin has been trying to get him into the White House for five years now. Besides that, the Russians allegedly have so much compromising (video) material about the president-elect that he has is at their mercy, if he wants to prevent video’s of him asking Russian prostitutes for golden showers from becoming public.
Of course this is not true, according to Trump. Even though the fact that he denies something, does not necessarily mean that it isn’t true. In the past, he has proved to be capable of denying proved facts like it’s nothing. The press had a field day, because what is more fun than asking questions about this? Except when you work for CNN, because Trump has banned that channel for publishing about the report.
According to Trump, this is all nonsense, and he condemns the role of the US intelligence agencies in this matter. Who knows what will happen when America gets a president who is not afraid to scold his own security services. He also immediately mentioned that Obamacare will be ‘repealed and replaced’, practically at the same time. The world ‘practically’ is crucial here, since many people who are insured through the Affordable Care Act could be left out. And of course, he wíll build a wall between America and Mexico, and the Mexicans are going to pay for it. Why? Because thousands of people have said that at his rallies (that the Mexican government refuses to talk about financing the wall, was comfortably left out). The biggest surprise: Mexicans are great people, according to Trump. Weird, since a year ago they were still drug dealers, murderers and rapists.
The contrast with Obama’s farewell address could not have been bigger. Trump presented himself as a revanchist bully without substantial plans – in other words, the Trump we know from before the elections. Everything will be ‘great’, ‘fantastic’ and ‘huge’ in the near future, in contrast to the ‘disaster’ his predecessors had done to the US (even the young Bush). It was an unsubstantial charade, this first press conference in 167 days, but I fear that Trump voters only feel strengthened in their choice.
The Republican members of Congress will scratch their heads, but they also know that they will need Trump’s electorate in two years. This is the ‘greatness’ we can expect in the next years – you would almost hope that the Russians publish the images soon.