In a recent Sunday edition, The New York Times devoted much of its front page to what it sees as the problem with Donald Trump — or more precisely, Mr. Trump’s tongue.
In a headline that could have come from The Onion, the Times told us that “95,000 Words, Many of Them Ominous, Come from Trump’s Tongue.” No doubt that could be said of many of us, especially in the morning. But in fact, the quotes chosen from what the Times claims is a week’s worth of Mr. Trump’s utterances seem much less ominous than that.
The problem for the Times and much of the media, accustomed to accepting the current thin veneer of political correctness as reality, is that Mr. Trump doesn’t play his assigned role in today’s carefully choreographed campaign kabuki. And so the press is reduced to writing about ominous things like his tongue.
There’s little ominous about the words in “Crippled America,” however. Mr. Trump professes no animosity toward the press. In fact, he uses it. “The cost of a full-page ad in the New York Times can be more than $100, 000,” he says. “But when they write a story about one of my deals, it doesn’t cost me a cent, and I get more important publicity. I have a mutually profitable two-way relationship with the media — we give each other what we need. And I am now using that relationship to talk about the future of America.”
Negative or not, most publicity is good publicity, and Mr. Trump makes full use of it, with the national media functioning as his cost-free megaphone for regularly communicating with a huge cross- section of American voters. Hence the frequent bombastic statements. They get reported and amplified. Mr. Trump benefits. And so does the media.
Mr. Trump represents something seldom seen — a protest candidate running as the poll-leading favorite of one of the majors, while, like a successful protest candidate, able tap into the uncertainties of Americans who believe they’re losing their country.
His mission, he tells us, is “to bring America back, to make it great and prosperous again, and to be sure we are respected by our allies and feared by our adversaries.”
“I’m not going to play the same game politicians have been playing for decades — all talk, no action, while special interests and lobbyists dictate our laws. I am shaking up the establishment on both sides of the political aisle because I can’t be bought.”
It’s his intention here, he writes, to outline a vision for restoring American preeminence. Among the particulars: fix the tax code; reform health care; rebuild our military and “start winning wars;” keep our promises to our veterans; bring our education system up to international speed; bringing jobs back to America “by closing our doors to illegal immigrants, and pressuring business to produce their goods at home.”
He’d proceed to implement his agenda, he tells us, in the same way he carries out his business ventures. “I find the people who are the best in the world at what needs to be done, then I hire them to do it, and then I let them do it . I hire the best people, I pay them well, and I keep them working for me.”
A president, like a business executive, frequently succeeds because he surrounds himself with good people as advisers and cabinet members — something our current president has notably failed to do. Whether Mr. Trump can do it on a national scale remains to be seen.
Some readers will want more specific approaches to issues. But as Mr. Trump sees it, “To me, for politicians to claim that we have an answer to every problem is silly. When you listen to some politicians reeling off their prepared answers, you almost fall for it They’re all experts. But nothing ever happens.”
What Mr. Trump wants to happen is outlined here in the first 170 pages of this slender book. And for anyone wanting to know more about his qualifications, the last 17 pages, titled “About the Author,” list his business accomplishments over the years in small, packed type.
When the primaries begin and hard votes replace polls, he may well fade, as the pundits insist he will. But in the meantime, he has tapped into something that neither the media nor most politicians seem able to get a handle on — something much more significant than Mr. Trump’s tongue.
CRIPPLED AMERICA: HOW TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN
By Donald J. Trump
Threshold Editions, $25, 193 pages
• John R. Coyne Jr., a former White House speechwriter, is co-author of “Strictly Right: William F. Buckley Jr. and the American Conservative Movement” (Wiley).