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Donald Trump: A POTUS so out of his depth!

March 03, 2017 15:12 IST

Distressing as the first month of the Donald Trump administration -- with its missteps on matters of governance, ethics and protocol -- has been, it has been a comic opera of buffoons by comparison to the horrors that await us, fears Rahul Jacob.

Kellyane Conway Oval Office sofa

IMAGE: Albeit trivial in terms of the big picture, photographs of Kellyanne Conway, counselor to US President Donald Trump, perched on an Oval Office sofa, is the latest in the list of White House missteps under the Trump administration. Photograph: Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images.

 

With all the incompetence, nepotism and arrogance on display in the tumultuous four weeks that already feel like four years since Donald Trump arrived at the White House, it is hard to pick one instance that is emblematic of how out of his depth the man is.

The resignation of his national security advisor for not disclosing the details of calls to the Russian ambassador ranks right up there, especially since Trump blamed the media for treating Michael Flynn unfairly. Many in Congress are seeking a wider investigation.

There is also the matter of the broadside by Trump against the department store Nordstrom for dropping Ivanka Trump's clothing line because it was selling poorly.

Trump tweeted that Ivanka 'has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is… always pushing me to do the right thing!'

Meanwhile, Trump's aides have been instructed to schedule as many televised events as possible from the Oval Office because Trump enjoys being seen there.

His daughter kicked up a storm of criticism after circulating a photograph of herself seated in the president's chair in the Oval Office between her father and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 'A great discussion with two world leaders about the importance of women having a seat at the table,' tweeted Ivanka Trump.

I interviewed Ivanka onstage for an hour at a conference in Hong Kong five years ago and can report that she is not short on self-esteem, starting with the opening line of her book: 'In business, as in life, nothing is ever handed to you.'

Amid all these missteps on matters of governance, ethics and protocol, I cannot help adding the problem of Trump's ties.

The president cannot tie a tie properly. He leaves the broad end of his tie dangling well past his belt and the narrow bit unable to reach the loop on the inside of the tie. To keep things neat, Trump resorts to using cellotape to hold it in place.

This is an utterly trivial detail at one level, but also in a way disproves that Trump is capable of adapting to being in the White House.

Next, we will be discovering someone ties his shoelaces for him.

No matter: As Trump said in his press conference, this administration is running like a 'fine-tuned machine.'

If you can believe that, you can believe anything.

Apparently, his American supporters, who we must remember are a minority, do.

What amazes me, though, is how many fans he has in India.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh told a crowd in Uttar Pradesh that Trump had been elected because he said he would follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi's economic policies.

A Mumbai friend put out a video in support of him with this extraordinary plea: 'Please understand, he is radically different and unlike all the ex MIDDLE (OF THE) ROAD presidents. The country is up shit. He is trying to do something! Please give him a CHANCE.'

As the Americans say when mystified by the incomprehensible, 'Go figure.'

For starters, I would never have described the war-mongering Bush administration as middle of the road. But perhaps this unquestioning Indian support for him is not that puzzling.

Many of us believe the best answer for this unwieldy, 'functioning anarchy' of a country is a strong man -- or woman.

The crowds at Indira Gandhi's memorial far outnumber those at her father's.

The support for Modi's demonetisation was often couched in similar language: at least the prime minister was doing something.

Our middle class and our elites have a tendency to simultaneously look up to the US -- and envy it and put it down at the same time.

Travelling between Mumbai and New York, as the friend who wrote the email does often, it would take a pretty feverish imagination to conclude that it is the US that is in deep trouble.

New York's public spaces such as the High Line and downtown near the Staten Island ferry are being innovatively expanded and made greener every year. The subway system is better than I recall it while traffic-choked Mumbai, for all its laid-back charm, looks like it is coming apart at the seams.

Ultimately, distressing as the first month of the Trump administration has been, it has been a comic opera of buffoons by comparison to the horrors that await us.

It is apparent that the frightening Stephen Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, is actually in charge.

Trump's weak grasp of policy and constitutional proprieties is further weakened by his impatience for memoranda on affairs of state that are longer than a page. Yet, he reportedly thumbed through a book with 17 window-draping options for the Oval Office.

His administration is packed with Goldman Sachs alumni, who are likely to strip the US' financial regulations, reducing rather than increasing capital requirements for large banks -- making another Lehman-styled financial crisis and another taxpayer bailout more likely.

As for the risk of stumbling into a war, as Barack Obama said at his last speech before this fateful election in November, would you entrust the nuclear launch codes to a man whose campaign team felt the need to keep him away from his beloved Twitter account for a few days before the election?

Rahul Jacob
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