Monday, February 13, 2017

"Crippled America" by Donald Trump: A Review

My religious values were instilled in me by my mother. The first church I belonged to was the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens. I went there every Sunday for Bible class. The church had a strong influence on me. later I went to Reverend Norman Vincent Peale's Marble Collegiate Church when I was in New York, and joined Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida.

Reverend Peale was the type of minister that I liked, and I liked him personally as well. I especially loved his sermons. He would instill a very positive feeling about God that also made me feel positive about myself. I would literally leave that church feeling like I could listen to another three sermons.

I learned a lot from Norman Vincent Peale, who wrote the classic The Power Of Positive Thinking.

I think people are shocked when they find out that I am a Christian, that I am a religious person. They see me with all the surroundings of wealth so they sometimes don’t associate that with being religious. That’s not accurate. I go to church, I love God, and I love having a relationship with Him.

I’ve said it before – I think the Bible is the most important book ever written- not even close. (130)

Donald Trump is officially the President of the United States of America. That is still odd to me. I did not support him or his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Nevertheless, he is our President and thus as I have done with his predecessors, I have invested in his writings to better understand his worldview and politics. Therefore, I picked up his campaign book Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again.

The book seeks to lay out for voters where Trump stands on the pressing issues of the campaign. He tackles issues like immigration, the economy, health care, education, law and order, energy, taxes, and the media. It is this last topic that, unsurprising to those who followed the campaign and the transition, that receives the most ink. Of the seventeen chapters, Trump dedicates two to the subject of media bias and unfairness. Although I am sympathetic to his complaints, Trump does go overboard on the issue. I do not believe the Right should continue to accept unfairness from the press, yet Trump's approach of pettiness and whininess is unbecoming of the office of the President. Of all the pressing issues of our days, media bias does not rank at the top.

Nevertheless, the reader is given an important insight into how Trump uses the media for his advantage. For those who have observed the dance between Trump and the press, one will discover that the press seem oblivious as to how to cover him and Trump seems to enjoy playing them for fools. That is precisely Trump's game. Early on in the book, Trump writes:
I don't mind being attacked. I use the media the way the media uses me - to attract attention. Once I have that attention, it's up to me to use it to my advantage. I learned a long time ago that if you're not afraid to be outspoken, the media will write about you or beg you to come on their shows. If you do things a little differently, if you say outrageous things and fight back, they love you. So sometimes I make outrageous comments and give them what they want -- viewers and readers -- in order to make a point. I'm a businessman with a brand to sell. . . . But now I am sing those talents, honed through years of tremendous success, to inspire people to think that our country can get better and be great again and that we can turn things around. (10-11)
That, in a nutshell, is why Trump refuses to surrender his Twitter account. Within 140 characters, Trump is able to take the media on a wild ride that he controls. What is most fascinating is Trump's openness about this and the media's ignorance of it. Over and over again they treat Trump like he is just another politician, but he is not. He does things differently and will treat them differently.

Beyond this, however, the book articulates Trump's view on the state of the world, politics, the country, and why he is running for President. The same bravado we've come to love or hate (depending on your position) is found throughout each page. No one has ever claimed Trump lacked confidence. However, even if one disagrees with Trump's policies or personality, one must admit there is a clear vision for America here. Trump may not be a details man (he practically says as much in the book when he explains how he has always hired the best and let them do their jobs with supervision), but he has a clear idea of what the country should do and believes he is the man to do it. During the campaign, Trump was distracted with insults and the rest, yet here, we return to teleprompter Trump who manages to finish a sentence without completely tearing someone down (though he does do that).

One of Trump's strategies here is to defend his conservative bonefides. Though I am not convinced Trump is a conservative or even thinks like one, no doubt his conclusions on many issues are conservative-esque. He writes:
Let's review the conservative scorecard and check my grades:

Affordable health care? Here's my word - and I never go back on my word: Obamacare needs to be repealed ASAP - and replaced with something far better.

Immigration reform? Has anybody been more of a leader on this issue than me? my plan is simple: We build a wall and take back control of our country. massive law enforcement on the borders. Legal immigrants should speak or learn English; without it they can never assimilate.

Anchor babies? They're here for one day and the child is entitled to a lifetime of benefits when others have spent a lifetime, or their lives, earning them. This needs to end!

The Iran deal? Iran cannot be allowed to build a nuclear weapon. That’s not a threat. It’s a statement of fact. Our allies and foes alike should take heed.

The Second Amendment? I believe the rights of law-abiding gun owners must be fully protected.

Defense of religious freedom? I believe religious freedom is the most fundamental constitutional right we have and must be protected.

Fix our broken tax system? There is no politician who understands our tax system like I do. It has to be changed to make it fair for all Americans—and simplified.

I am a strong, proud conservative. The biggest difference between me and all the do-nothing politicians who are all talk, no action? Those people constantly claiming they are more conservative than anyone else? I don’t talk about things, I get things done.

I am standing up for this country because our so-called leaders haven’t been able to. So the next time someone questions my conservative credentials, show them this list! (99-100)
And with this, Trump was able to win the hearts of conservatives without having to honestly deal with his womanizing and assassination of character.

On a whole, the book is Trump. It reads like a Trump speech. Of all the campaign books I have read, this is one that is likely less edited by campaign staff and publishers. Yet that is part of Trump's appeal: authenticity. We shall see how far it gets him in the executive branch. In the end though, he has told us who he is, at least politically, in this book. Nothing so far has been a surprise.
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