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Trump's Character Is His Fate

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 8/10/2015 Richard North Patterson

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously wrote "A man's character's is his fate."This truth neatly captures Donald Trump's rise - and inevitable fall - as a presidential contender.
Already there are hints of his collapse beneath the weight of his quest. Trump's performance in the second debate resembled the slow leak of a balloon, overinflated by an indulgent media which viewed him as ratings helium. Though he now promises that his candidacy will have a "second act," Trump has within him but one act - his own. Thus polls suggest that he has reached his ceiling, and it is hard to imagine him drawing mass support from the adherents of his rivals.
For the Trump campaign, if such a happening can be called that, does not reward more serious scrutiny. His persona is not that of a seasoned political leader, but an entertainer, a combustible mix of PT Barnum updated by Kim Kardashian. His seeming supernova exemplifies how social media and reality TV have debased our sense of who to admire, and for what.His puerile jibes-at Bush's energy,Fiorina's looks and Rubio's sweat glands - suggest the tiresome braying of a witless frat boy. And his reflex to demean anyone who displeases them - including women - combines the pollution of our civic dialogue with our appetite for seeing others humiliated as entertainment.
Trump offers no real program - he offers himself. While many politicians may be narcissists, Trump alone treats narcissism as a contest he must win. To him, his dominance of the airwaves must have seemed absurdly easy, confirming his rightful place as the center of public attention. After all, as he recently remarked, were he not in the race "there'd be a major collapse of television ratings."
To put it mildly, this suggests an under - appreciation of the seriousness of his current enterprise. The goal of becoming the most powerful man in a dangerous world has not moved him to undertake the difficult task of truly understanding that world. In Trump's inner world, the world will come to him.
So in place of substance, he channels the primal scream of those so gripped by media - fueled outrage that contempt for government and those who lead it is program enough. His ignorance of governance is a klieg-lit embarrassment, his pronouncements on policy self - preening blather. His immigration plan is incoherent, unachievable, inhumane, budget - busting and borderline racist. His foreign policy, when he deigns to have one, consists of chest - thumping. His economic program is a muddled melange of populism, protectionism and tax proposals which don't add up. As a political thinker, he is Herman Cain on steroids.
In this intellectual Sahara, a credulous media has greeted any sprout of sanity - his renunciation of the Iraq war, repealing tax breaks for hedge fund managers - as a sign of growth. And the 24 hour cacophony of Trump as a political colossus by commentators with their jaws agape obscures the fact that, as a candidate, he has not been with us for four years, but four months, with 13 months to go until November 2016.
He will never get that far, for whatever months remain to him will come to feel like a merciless persecution. The flip side of his self - involvement is that he is a thin - skinned bully, and such people do not endure attacks with grace. 40 years of self - celebration have scattered nuggets of video which his detractors will convert to bullets. They will be fired at his heart by the Republican establishment and donor classes, their own hearts filled with a particularly ruthless loathing - not simply because they fear that Trump would lose a general election, but because his intimation of tariffs and tax hikes is, to them, an economic sacrilege which threatens their own place in the firmament.
As the primary field continues to narrow, one or two well - financed opponents will - as Romney did to his rivals in 2012 - carpet bomb Trump with viciously crafted negative ads from state to state, a drumbeat of humiliation which will make Megyn Kelly's recitation of sexism look like a Caribbean cruise.Conservative media will peel back his curtain of red meat and expose that, as a conservative, Trump is the Wizard of Oz; his all too ripe personal life will begin repelling evangelicals. Slowly, inevitably, Trump will crack, flooding the maws of an avid media with a cascade of whining, petty feuds and overblown grievances, mindlessly feeding the hunger for a new storyline in which Trump consumes himself.
His audience will be watching, and not kindly - some out of sheer fascination with his self - destruction, more because most Americans are, at bottom, sensible. They want an optimistic leader who imbues them with hope, not a self - obsessed whiner whose endless psychodrama is, in the end, exhausting. Not only will they not want Donald Trump in the White House; they won't want him in their living room. And one by one they will switch the channel,until Trump is left alone on a soundstage, and the lens into which he stares becomes an empty mirror.

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